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

Every now and then, we at 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:

Fruit Explorers, Guerrilla Grafters, and Other Useful People

The editors here at Chelsea Green are constantly seeking out what’s new and important in the world of sustainable living. As part of an occasional blog series, our editors are sharing what they’ve been reading, researching, or just plain pondering. Below Senior Editor Ben Watson talks about “guerrilla grafters” and why the world could use a lot more of […] Read More..

A Thanksgiving Hit: Apple Pie with Cider Jelly

The Thanksgiving season means a barrage of holiday recipes that overflow your inbox and social media feeds. Some of these are new and innovative, meant to impress guests and sure to fade away from the culinary canon. However, there’s a reason that certain other recipes stand the test of time: they just work. We’ve had […] Read More..

Release Your Inner Viking With New Book on Mead

Unlock the mead brewing secrets of the ancient Norse with homesteader and fermentation enthusiast Jereme Zimmerman’s new book Make Mead Like a Viking. Whether you’re new to homebrewing or looking to expand your current brewing and fermentation practices, Zimmerman’s welcoming style and spirit will usher you into an exciting new territory of wildcrafted experimentations, including more than 20 recipes to try.The fermentation […] Read More..

For a Very Viking Thanksgiving, Try Homemade Mead

The people who lived the Viking lifestyle a thousand years ago enjoyed myriad foods and beverages and throwing feasts that lasted several days to show off what they had stockpiled throughout the harvest season. Bring the Viking spirit of celebration to your Thanksgiving table this year with a traditional batch of spiced orange mead. Brew up the following recipe […] Read More..

Brew Outside the Box: Making Mushroom-Infused Beer

When thinking about drinking a nice cold beer, the flavor of mushrooms doesn’t exactly spring to mind. But for the adventurous brewer – and drinker – infusing mushrooms into brews is a great way to combine the medicinal benefits of fungi with one of the world’s most consumed beverages.The best part? You can grow mushrooms […] Read More..
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