Gardening: ’Tis the season to enjoy local horticultural operations

Central Albertan’s have the opportunity to purchase from local horticultural operations located throughout the region. Some are businesses are seasonal while others operate year round. Many businesses advertise but others are known to the local community or are found by word of mouth and social media. Olds Colleges’ horticultural department is one of the places that relies on word of mouth and their web site.

Local residents, college staff and students keep their Friday lunch hours (12 p.m. – 1 p.m.) open to visit the Greenhouse Rotunda in the Land Science Center. Here the horticultural department hosts a sale of seasonal products that are produced by the staff and students.

Items for sale varies with the season. Last Friday, there was a selection of root crops, potatoes (common to gourmet varieties) beets, apples, numerous types of garlic, a few varieties of carrots and a basket of onions. The pricing system was simple to follow; a dollar a pound or in the case of garlic, a dollar a head.

Being the holiday season, Poinsettias were available in a number of different sizes as were Christmas centre pieces and greenery.

Tropicals and succulents were available in 2, 4 and six inch pots but at present time the variety is limited. The grower explained that most of the time and space in the greenhouse had been dedicated to the Poinsettia crop. Now that the Poinsettias were leaving more time would be spent propagating tropical meaning that there would be a larger variety available in the New Year.

Students in the Horticultural Technician Program have the opportunity to take a food processing class. Products from this class, jams, flavored oils, fermented relishes, sauerkraut and sauces were also available for purchase. Products are produced in a certified kitchen with each container’s label containing a complete ingredient list.

Student made creams, bath items were also on part of the sale.

As in retail stores everywhere, each season sees different products available. Pans and pots of spring bulbs, Daffodils, Tulips etc., are usually for sale by the end of January until mid-March.

Fresh cut flowers are usually on offer. Arrangements are available for specific days such as Valentines, Mothers’Day, and Thanksgiving

Annuals are available starting in April with a final push in June after the Botanic Gardens plantings have been completed. Hanging baskets, and small and medium planters are also available during this time.

Perennial plants are also available in the spring. Varieties of plants available for sale varies as they are dependent on student plantings and extra plants culled from the Botanic Gardens. The sizes range from 4 inch to 1 gallon with the price depending on the size and product.

Fresh produce in the form of radishes and greens are available in April with tomatoes, cucumbers and other greenhouse crops availability dependent on supply.

In October students and staff harvest the root crops which are made available to the public during their Friday sales. Excess produce is placed in a large cooler and sales continue as long as the produce lasts which is typically the end of January into February.

For those who want to know what is for sale before taking the drive, sign up for the weekly email flyer. Follow the link and scroll to the bottom of the page to fill in the form.

All money that is made from the sales goes back into the greenhouse program.

There are two easy ways to find the sale. The first is to enter the first entrance at the north end of campus and drive between the Hotel and the back of the Lands Science Center. Signage is in place to lead customers to the correct door.

The second is to park in the Land Science Center parking lot and follow the signs to the Greenhouse Header House.

Hours have been extended for the Dec. 17 sale. They are from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. otherwise the sale is from 12 p.m. to 1 p.m. These sales are well worth the visit.

Linda Tomlinson is a horticulturalist that lives near Rocky Mountain House. She can be reached at

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