Hort Morsels - Bits and Pieces - Hort Snacks - March 2018

  Hort Snacks - March 2018
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 Featured Website | Mental Snacktime | Google Groups - Hort Snacks Forum | Q and A | Alberta's Elm Pruning Ban Starts April 1st | Berry and Vegetable Price Survey - Head's up

Featured Website

Northeast SARE (Sustainable Agriculture Research & Extension)
A bunch of projects on a range of topics

Mental Snacktime – Planning / Forethought

“Nothing is more imminent than the impossible . . . what we must always foresee is the unforeseen.” Victor Hugo

“Look and see which way the wind blows before you commit yourself.” Aesop

“I realized that with everything I did from that point onward, I would have to ask myself this question: "How would I feel if what I'm doing right now is written up on the front page of the Wall Street Journal or the New York Times or if it is on television? Would I still do it?" That is a very useful exercise for leaders to engage in, because we shouldn't do anything we might be embarrassed by or ashamed of.” John E. Mackey

“Change takes time, forethought and knowledge, as well as an envisioned goal.” Obiora Embry

“Productivity is never an accident. It is always the result of a commitment to excellence, intelligent planning, and focused effort.” – Paul J. Meyer


Google has all sorts of different features and tools. One that I ran across a couple of years ago is Google Groups. You can essentially create and join common interest groups or discussion forums and share information and ideas back and forth. You can alter the settings to get forum updates all the time, daily, weekly or whatever.

A couple of years ago, we created a HortSnacks Forum, tied to this newsletter. Anyone who is a member of the forum can submit posts (questions, comments, etc.) via Google or via email. To submit a question (or post), either log into the group using a Google account or simply send an email to hortsnacks-forum@googlegroups.com and it’ll send it to all members. You can reply from email or from Google. You have to be a member of the group to submit questions, but becoming a member is quick and easy.

To subscribe to the group, send an email from your email account to subscribe+hortsnacks-forum@googlegroups.com
Try it out today!

Q and A

Q: What is one thing that you do each winter which saves you time in the growing season?
A: The more equipment that we can get serviced, modified, and ready to roll seems to be one of our beat places to spend some time in winter.
A: Fix up equipment in garden so it is in working order
A: We stock up, making lots and lots of wine which we need in copious amounts every growing season; We also do an analysis of prior sales, make forecasts of sales, and then work out exactly what we need for supplies. This we communicate with suppliers months in advance so they have an idea of what is going to happen during the growing season. I, for one, hate to hear the words we don’t have that available at this time. The second time this happens after I have given them a heads up, they are done next.
A: Clean out my work stations.
A: Sourcing seeds and composting in the shop.
A: Start tomatoes, and some bedding plants inside.
A: Planning and organizing
A: We plan for upcoming seasonal evens and promotions
A: I use row covers to extend the planting and hardening off process.
A: I make sure seeding plans are made and equipment is ready to go
A: I start a lot from seed. I order my seed early, then sort them into large envelopes, one for each week or two week period, depending on how many I have. I label the envelopes with the date and what's inside. When seeding time rolls around, I can just pull the envelope I need and all the seeds I need for that week are there.
A: Make lots of fattening food to put in the freezer so we don't starve to death in May.
A: Update our online mailout and customer list.
A: Pre-purchase input material in the fall (when we can afford it) and receive them so we are ready to go
A: Planning!
A: I pay for prepricing of my perennials, trees and shrubs so that staff don't have to spend time pricing these items when they arrive in May and we are busy with customers.

Next Month’s ? What is one insect pest/disease that you are concerned about that you are watching for?

Alberta’s Elm Pruning Ban Starts April 1st

To help keep Alberta Dutch elm disease (DED) free, there is a provincial elm pruning ban in place between April 1st and September 30th. It is important to properly dispose of all pruned elm wood by burning, burying or chipping by March 31st. It is illegal to prune elm trees during the pruning ban and to store elm firewood.

Elm bark beetles, responsible for spreading the deadly DED fungus, feed on healthy elms and breed in dead and dying elm trees. If elm trees are pruned during the pruning ban period, these beetles, which are active at this time, can be attracted to the scent of the fresh wound and possibly infect your otherwise healthy elm with DED. Once an elm tree is infected with DED it will die within that year.

Having your tree pruned properly is important. Many trees are killed or ruined annually from improper pruning. Pruning like any other skill requires knowledge and should be done by an International Society of Arboriculture (ISA) Certified Arborist who can determine what type of pruning is necessary to maintain or improve the health, appearance and safety of your trees.

Topping or removing an excessive amount of live wood is not recommended on any variety of trees and will weaken the tree’s structure. For more information on pruning, ISA Certified Arborists, and DED visit either http://www.isaprairie.com/ or www.stopded.org

Berry & Vegetable Price Survey – Head’s up!

Having price information is valuable for people of all experience levels, to use as a reference against your own pricing and to compare against when calculating your cost of production and setting your prices.

Each year, I put a call out to producers, asking them to share what they were charging for their fruit and vegetable crops the past season (both u-pick and pre-pick for FM), as well as any price changes that they anticipate for the coming season. From that, I assemble average prices (as well as the range) to share with the industry. It is coming up on that time of year again, as experience has shown that earlier is better for everyone involved.

For those readers that get this newsletter electronically, I will send out the formal request in a separate, direct email. I hope to publish the summary in the April 2018 edition of Hort Snacks (May at the latest). For those that get this by hard copy, please feel free to send in your information by mail, fax (403-742-7527) or give me a call.

The following is an outline of the type of information I need.

U-pick price
Pre-pick price
Farmers Market Price
Unit of measure for each market
(e.g. per pound; per head/bunch)
Examples of Crops wanted
Fruit – strawberries, raspberries, Saskatoon berries, black currant, dwarf sour cherries, Haskap, chokecherries, other fruit; Vegetables – beets, carrots, radishes, rutabagas/turnips, corn, cabbage, broccoli, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts, kohlrabi, kale, spinach, lettuce (head and/or leaf), cucumbers (pickling, slicing), potatoes (baby, regular), rhubarb, peas, snap peas, snow peas, beans, tomatoes, onions, garlic, Swiss chard, winter squash, zucchini, pumpkins, etc.
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For more information about the content of this document, contact Robert Spencer.
This information published to the web on February 27, 2018.