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ASK THE EXPERTS: Growing Organic Grapes in Ottawa (Plus, Video)

Every now and then, we at ChelseaGreen.com will get a question from a reader that, well, just stumps us. We’ll dissect the head-scratcher, research, debate, and finally, just before full-blown panic and its inevitable counterpart, violence, set in, one of us will step back from the abyss and remember that we can just contact one of our expert authors. Crisis averted, we rest easy in the knowledge that we’ve held our demons at bay, just one more day.
I have been researching the potential for establishing a commercial venture growing table grapes in greenhouses on land I own near Ottawa, Ontario. Do you think such a business would be viable and do you know of any information sources that would help me besides your book? Thanks very much, Al Stewart
We asked author and organic viticulture expert Lon Rombough, The Grape Grower himself, to sink his teeth into this one. Here’s his response:
Hello Alan: The British are the main source of information on actual techniques of growing grapes in greenhouses, and Alan Rowe has put out a very good book on the subject. It’s on my website. I don’t know how viable it would be for commercial use, though. As it happens, I’m working with a man here who is going to grow grapes in poly tunnels to see if he can produce fruit out of season, or at least earlier than it would be available outdoors. There are so many variables, the process would have a steep learning curve. Heat costs, for instance. Do you use heat and grow cold tender grapes, or use hardier grapes? That is, tender grapes might need heat through the winter to survive, while hardy types might not. But you might need heat to start the vines growing early, then rely on solar heat the rest of the season. See what I mean? Lots of variables. And that doesn’t even take marketing into account. Where to sell them to get the highest return? Restaurants? Stores? Farmer’s Markets? Food for thought. —Lon J. Rombough
So there you have it, Alan. Hope this leads you in a “fruitful” direction! Ha ha! (I am so sorry.) Be sure to check out this clip from Ron’s new grape pruning video:


10 Books to Curl Up With This Winter

William Wordsworth was right when he said, “Nature never did betray the heart that loved her.” Nevertheless, the cold, dark days of winter can still get the best of even Nature’s most tenderhearted admirer. What’s one to do? We here at Chelsea Green have concocted the perfect cabin fever remedy with our suggested winter reading […] Read More..

Top 8 Chelsea Green Books the Self-Styled Oregon Militia Should Read

The ongoing armed militia occupation of the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge in Oregon is showing no signs of ending — so, rather than send them snacks, or sex toys, we had an idea: Send them a book! Better yet, send them several Chelsea Green books. Don’t worry, we’ve picked five key titles that we think […] Read More..

Tracing the History of Cheddar with Cheesemonger Gordon Edgar

Cheddar is the world’s most ubiquitous and beloved cheese. You can find it nearly everywhere from macaroni and mousetraps to McDonald’s and mansions. Any cheese with so many fans has a story to tell, and Gordon Edgar is just the cheesemonger to tell it.In his book, Cheddar, Edgar traces the unexplored history of America’s most iconic cheese. Traveling […] Read More..

Winter Survival Tips From Mat Stein

Now that temperatures have started to dip below freezing and most folks living in colder climates have witnessed their first snow flurries of the season, it’s time to get serious about winter preparedness. Make sure you are ready for stormy weather and extreme cold on your next road trip with these winter driving tips from […] Read More..

A Book for the Fruit Nerd on Your Holiday Gift List

Have a fruit enthusiast on your holiday shopping list this year? Then give the gift that Booklist calls, “a thorough investigation of one wonderful fruit”—The Book of Pears by Joan Morgan.Sure cherries, plums, peaches, and other fruits have their unique qualities, but nothing quite compares to the pear’s luscious texture, richness of taste, and fragrance reminiscent […] Read More..
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