Archive for the ‘Organic gardening’ Category

Smartphone Apps for Do-It-Yourselfers

Thursday, June 2nd, 2011

If you’re a smartphone user in Stony Plain, Spruce Grove, Parkland County or the Edmonton area, you know how handy these gadgets can be.  Add some of the apps below for even greater usefulness as you go about creating your perfect living environment.  Check your apps store to see about availability for your device.  (See also the blog article entitled “Smartphone Apps for Home Buyers”).

Smartphone Apps for Do-It-Yourselfers | Spruce Grove Stony Plain Parkland County Real Estate | Barry TwynamHOME IMPROVEMENT

Dream Home  [iPhone & iPad; 99¢]   Interior decorating app with lots to offer:  large photo collection of “amazing rooms from stunning looking houses”, every type of room and style imaginable, plenty of hints, tips and ideas, information on the latest design trends and fads, all to inspire you to create similar effects in your own home.

Home Interior Layout Designer – Mark On Call  [iPhone & iPad; $2.99].    Helps plan a space and determine if furnishings will fit.

Houzz  [iPhone & iPad; free]   More than 110,000 photos in 21 categories of “ideabooks” from both professional and amateur designers.

Remodelista  [iPhone & iPad; $2.99]   Online sourcebook of decorating ideas, updated daily, includes inspiring architecture, stylish DIY projects, 10 Easy Pieces product roundups, and Steal This Look.

Paint matching apps [iPhone & iPad; free]:  Benjamin Moore Color Capture  from Benjamin Moore and ColorSnap  from Sherwin-Williams both allow you to take a photo with your phone and then use the app to analyze the color to provide the closest matches within the company’s paint palette.  ColorSnap (available too for Blackberry) also displays secondary and complementary colors.

iHandy Carpenter  [iPhone & iPad; $1.99]    Turns your iPhone into a ruler, protractor, bubble level, surface level or plumb bob, making hanging pictures or mirrors a breeze.  If you need just a level, pick up the free app for both iPhone  and Android.

HandyMan Sidekick  [iPhone & iPad; $1.99]    Calculate exactly how much material you need for any project.  Input a room’s dimensions, including how many windows and doors, and this app will tell you how many gallons of paint or rolls of wallpaper you need.  Similar calculations can be done for flooring or gardening projects.  Bonus:  a feature that displays a bright fluorescent bulb on your phone’s screen to use as a flashlight!

App Box Pro [iPhone, iPod, iPad; $1.99]   Two dozen tools in one app!  Even if you don’t use all of them, it’s still a bargain.  Tools include:  Secure Wallet, Alarm Clock with Music Play, Currency, Event Diary, Flashlight, Holidays, Mirror, Ruler, Translator, Unit Convertor, Battery Life Indicator, Date Calculator, Surface Level, Bubble Level, Loan Calculator, Price Grab, Sale Price Calculator, Tip Calculator, and more.

StudFinder Professional  [iPhone; $3.99]    Uses the iPhone’s magnetometer to find studs by locating the magnetic fields emitted by metal screws and nails.  If you are an Android user, get their Magnetic Stud Finder  free.

HomeSizer  [iPhone; $2.99]  Lets you map out square footage and construction costs.  The app also breaks down mortgage costs so you can make size adjustments, along with changes to your loan term in line with your budget.

@Home app from Good Housekeeping magazine [iPhone; free]   Provides stain removal and cleaning advice, as well as decorating ideas and a searchable list of the 5,000-plus products that have earned a Good Housekeeping seal.

Smartphone Apps for Do-It-Yourselfers | Spruce Grove Stony Plain Parkland County Real Estate | Barry TwynamGARDENING

Landscaper’s Companion [iPhone; $4.99]   Reference guide to trees, shrubs, annuals, perennials; contains information on over 5000 plants with 6000 pictures.  Great resource for anyone from the casual gardener to professional landscapers, allowing you to search based on your garden’s sun exposure and garden zone.

Garden Buddy  [iPhone; $2.99]   With Google Local Search and your phone’s GPS, find local suppliers for your gardening needs after you’ve used this app to calculate how much mulch, topsoil and sod to use, what types of fertilizers to add, what to plant where, and how long before you can harvest your garden bounty.

Garden Insects  [iPhone; 99¢]   Identify common garden pests and learn environmentally friendly ways to control them.

Have you found a great app that should be added to this list?  I’d love to hear from you.  Call me at 780-910-9669, email me at, or contact me here.

Top 10 Reasons to Grow a Garden This Year

Wednesday, May 25th, 2011

Top 10 Reasons to Grow a Garden This Year | Spruce Grove Stony Plain Parkland County Real Estate | Barry TwynamNever grown a vegetable garden in the back yard of your Stony Plain or Spruce Grove home?  This article, reprinted in its entirety with the permission of the fine folks at the Brazeau 100 km Kitchen Party, may make you decide this is the year to do it!  The article was found on page 26 of the publication Eat Local Goodness 2011.

Get Growing and Reap the Rewards

Here are the top 10 reasons to grow a garden this year: 

  1.  Save money.  The average family can save an average of $500 per year on groceries by planting and maintaining an average garden.  Preserve some of the produce and watch your grocery bills plummet, even in the middle of winter!
  2. Fresh produce tastes better Ever notice the difference in taste between a fresh home-grown tomato and a tomato bought at the supermarket?
  3. Stay fit All the bending and lifting involved in maintaining a garden, from planting seeds to pulling weeds to harvesting fresh produce can really have an impact on overall health.
  4. Get more nutrients.  From the time produce is picked off the plant to the time it is eaten, nutrients are lost.  The fresher fruits or vegetables are, the more nutrients they provide.
  5. Save time A few minutes a day can go a long way toward producing an amazing amount of fruits and vegetables.  Compare a few minutes a day to the time it would take to get in the car, go to the supermarket, select produce, pay for it, and bring it home, and you’ll see you’ll actually save time by growing a garden.
  6. Teach children with the garden.  Children love to know where things come from, especially food.  What easier way to show a child where green beans come from than to show them the plant the green beans are growing on?
  7. Keep children healthy.  Children are more apt to eat something when they are given the opportunity to prepare the food.  Preparing food from seed is about as close as you can get to the basic fundamentals of food.  Encourage children to come outside and help in the garden and they will  not only be spending time outdoors and learning where their food comes from, but also helping you to save some time in the garden by pulling weeds, planting seeds, and harvesting produce.
  8. Help save the environment.  Most produce found in a supermarket is not naturally grown and many chemicals, including pesticides, are used to help the food grow.  Semi trucks are used to transport the food from the farm to the grocery store.  Most people drive a car to the grocery store to pick up the food.  Now picture how much better for the environment it would be to walk outside the back door into the naturally-grown garden and pick some fruit or vegetables for the family.
  9. Increase your home’s value.  Certain well-established perennials can actually increase the value of a home.  Blueberry bushes and grape vines are excellent examples of edible perennials that actually add value to the home.
  10. It’s easy.  Growing a garden is not as difficult as some might lead you to believe.  With proper planning, an amazingly productive garden can sustain a family with very little actual work done.  Gardening is not back-breaking labour, but instead a fun activity the whole family can enjoy!


Comments or questions about this article, or anything connected with real estate?  I would love to hear from you.  Phone me at 780-910-9669, email me at, or contact me here.

Fresh, Wholesome and Yummy!

Thursday, August 19th, 2010

It’s no secret that the Edmonton area has world-class shopping, but some of the best items for sale are not found in any mall.

If, like me, you’re a big fan of fresh, locally grown produce and home-made goodies, you’ll be happy to learn about the Farmers’ Markets, U-Pick farming operations and market gardens found in the Tri-Municipal area of Spruce Grove, Stony Plain and Parkland County.  At all of these venues, consumers have the opportunity to make personal contact with the people who actually produce the goods.

(Google Maps feature is available for some addresses below:  Click on the addresses for a map of the location of the facility.) 

Local Farmers’ Markets

Fresh, Wholesome and Yummy! |Spruce Grove Stony Plain Parkland County Real Estate | Barry TwynamFarmers’ Markets are not just a great place to get some of the best and freshest fruits and vegetables; they are also the spot to find home baking and wonderful fruity jams and other preserves (organic, no chemicals, no preservatives), along with special hand-crafted gift items.  A little tip about Farmers’ Markets:  For the best selection, it is always a good idea to get there early!  The “regulars” know which vendors sell the best in each category, and those vendors are usually among the first to sell out.

Spruce Grove Farmers’ MarketLocated at the Grain Elevator on the south side of Highway 16A :  120 Railway Avenue, Spruce Grove.  Saturdays, 9:30 AM to 2:30 PM.  In 2010, operates indoors from April 17 to December 18.  For more information contact:  Lisa Lohr,  Phone 780-960-9380.

Heritage Farmers’ MarketToby Kazeil Pavilion, 4202 – 50 Street, Stony Plain (Stony Plain Exhibition Grounds).    Saturdays, 9 AM to 1 PM.  In 2010, operates indoors from March 20 to October 9.  For more information contact:  Lisa Wood,  Phone 780-963-2777.

Stony Plain Farmers’ MarketLocated in the Stony Plain Community Centre, 5008 – 51 Avenue, Stony Plain.  Saturdays, 9 AM to 1 PM.  In 2010, operates April 10 to December 18.  For more information contact Joanne Blicq,  Phone 780-963-3028.


Tips from U-Pick veterans:

  • For berries, bring your own plastic 4-litre ice cream pails with handles and lids (light, easy to carry, handle can loop over a wrist or be tied onto a belt to leave hands free for picking).
  • Always phone ahead to make sure field conditions are right for picking.
  • Wear a hat and proper footwear, and remember your bottled water, sunscreen, bug repellent and cash (many U-Pick operations are not set up for debit/credit cards). You may wish to bring gardening gloves and wear long sleeves to protect against scratches from prickly bushes.
  • Bring a cooler with ice packs for transporting your freshly picked produce.
  • Many U-Pick farms can accommodate large groups and often have picnic and barbecue facilities; phone and ask.
  • A website with more useful tips:

Grove Berry Patch:   52430 Range Road 265, Spruce Grove (1.5 km south off Highway 16A on Spruce Valley Road aka Range Road 265).    Kameron and Carol Jones welcome you to their 20 acres of saskatoon bushes and 1 acre of raspberries, chokecherries, black currants, high bush cranberries and vegetables.  Open daily 9 AM to 6 PM and evenings by appointment.  Open 9 AM till dusk during saskatoon season (July and August).  Wheelchair accessible.  Phone ahead to check on conditions and availability:  780-962-5824.

Fresh, Wholesome and Yummy! |Spruce Grove Stony Plain Parkland County Real Estate | Barry TwynamRoy‘s Raspberries26421 Hwy 16A, Acheson:   located just east of Spruce Grove, south of Hwy 16A on Range Road 265.   20 acres of raspberry bushes, 10 varieties of red raspberries, 2 varieties of golden.  Open daily 8 AM to 8 PM until Labour Day; after Labour Day, open reduced hours until severe frost.  For more information contact manager Harvey Boyko at 780-962-3959 or email

Dunvegan Gardens:  Located at 215 St (aka Winterburn Road) and 23 Ave, Edmonton.  Raspberries, saskatoons, black currants.  No pesticides used.  Open May to August Monday to Friday 9 AM to 8 PM, Saturdays 9 AM to 6 PM, Sundays noon to 5 PM; September to April Monday to Saturday 9 AM to 6 PM.  Also operates a greenhouse and garden centre.  For more information phone 780-470-0565 or email

Fresh, Wholesome and Yummy! |Spruce Grove Stony Plain Parkland County Real Estate | Barry TwynamSaskatoon Valley OrchardsBox 19, Site 502, RR 5, Stony Plain:  6 km south of Stony Plain to Secondary Hwy 627; 13 km west on 627 to RR 22; 1 km south.  11,000 saskatoon bushes:  Smoky, Northline, Thiesson, Honeywood varities.  Open July and August, 8 AM to 9 PM.  For more information phone 780-963-8311 or email

Happy Acres U-Pick:  1 52225 Range Road 273, Spruce Grove:  5 km south of Spruce Grove on Golden Spike Road.  Chemical-free strawberries, raspberries, saskatoons, rhubarb, apples, currants, Nanking cherries + wide variety of vegetables.  Also offer farm eggs and honey.  Open Wednesday to Sunday 10AM to 9 PM.  Phone 780-968-0099, or email

Market Gardens

Fresh, Wholesome and Yummy! |Spruce Grove Stony Plain Parkland County Real Estate | Barry TwynamInspired Market Gardens:  Located at 52207 Range Road 25 near Carvel (35 minutes west of Edmonton).  Specializing in culinary herbs, edible flowers, and salad greens raised using all-natural growing conditions and sustainable agriculture methods, and naturally organic pastured poultry.  Hours for 2010:  May 1 to June 27, Wednesday to Saturday 10 AM to 5:30 PM, Sunday noon to 5 PM.  July to September, Saturdays noon to 5 PM.  Home of the World Bassett Hound Races!  For more information phone 780-968-4648 or 1-877-874-4455, or email

B.A.’s Market Garden:  Box 31, Site 460, RR 4, Stony Plain:  ½  mile south of Stony Plain, west on 524, follow to the end. At the entrance to Hasse Lake Park.  Barry Altheim markets fresh vegetables all year round.  Phone 780-963-0574.

Garden Valley Organic Orchards:  27212 SH 627, Spruce Grove:  3 km west of Edmonton on Hwy 16A; 10 km south on Hwy 60; 9 km west on secondary hwy 627 (Garden Valley Road), or 10 km south of Spruce Grove on Golden Spike Road aka secondary hwy 788 to secondary hwy 627; 1 km east.  Available for u-pick:  strawberries, raspberries, saskatoons, apples, chokecherries, black currants, rhubarb + wide variety of fresh vegetables.  Spring/summer Monday to Saturday 9 AM to 8 PM, Sunday 9 AM to 3 PM.  Phone 780-963-9370.

Home Grown Food & AgriProducts10 – 19 Granite Drive, Stony Plain.   Phone 780-963-5305.  Open Monday to Saturday, 10 AM to 6 PM.  While technically not a “market garden”, this health food store is included in this list because of its commitment to fresh, locally grown, organic products.  From their website:  Homegrown Foods is here to provide you with the finest quality fresh, natural, organic, whole foods, nutritional products, body care products and health information in a fun comfortable clean, safe environment. We also have an extensive gluten free product line along with organic/hormone free meats & a large assortment of wild fish. 

 Did we miss some facilities that should be included in this list?  Phone me at 780-910-9669, email me at or contact me here.

Barry Twynam, Realty Executives Leading
#1 14 McLeod Avenue, Spruce Grove, Alberta, T7X 3X3
Tel: 780-962-9696 Cell: 780-910-9669 Fax: 780-962-9699
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