Mark Cullen e-newsletter
October 2010 
 Gardening with Mark
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"I have a rock garden.
Last week three of them died."
~ Richard Duran

Welcome to October in the garden.
This is the frosty one. All of your frost tender stuff is going to bite the dust this month, most leaves will fall and harvesting what you have left in the garden should be on your mind.

As the petunias and impatiens make their exit the spaces that the dead and removed plants produce will provide an excellent opportunity to plant spring flowering bulbs.

Planting the bulbs will expose you to bird song, reminding you that this is the most important time of year to fill the feeders if you want to encourage the songsters to stick around.

Feeding the birds will draw your attention to the bird houses where the swallows and sparrows and the like raised a brood or two this season: let me remind you to remove the nests before winter so that a nice clean house is theirs for the nesting come spring.

Cleaning out the bird houses is not a lot different than cleaning up your garden this time of year: either you do it soon or just forget it 'til spring. I emphasize the need to take it easy in this department - do not sanitize your garden, just give it some attention.

Details on all of the above right here:

 Dead Annuals and Tomato Plants

compost Compost them. The 'green' leftover plants in your garden, once hit by a killing frost, make excellent 'compost starter' as they are nitrogen rich. Mix them at the rate of 1 part 'green' stuff (like the dead plants) with 5 parts fallen leaves. I also add Green Earth Compost Accelerator to kick start the decomposition process.

Check out the new composting leaf bags at Home Hardware. A new product in the Mark's Choice line up: you just fill them, add water and Green Earth Compost Accelerator and stack them up in a corner of the garden 'til spring. You will then spread the contents over your veggie or flower garden and voila - perfect soil! I don't even dig the decomposed leaves into the soil - I let earthworms do the job.


 Fallen Leaves

leaves The deciduous trees on your property and your neighbour's property will drop their leaves this month, most likely. Don't rake them up just yet. Run your lawn mower over them with the wheels set at the highest setting. After you have 'mulched' them up into small pieces either rake them up and put the leaf remnants in the composter or aforementioned compost bags or rake them onto your garden. The open soil in your garden will benefit as worms take the leaves down into the soil and convert them into nitrogen rich earthworm castings. And over the winter all of your plants will enjoy the insulation provided by the leaves.



carrots Frost tender plants like peppers and tomatoes need to be 'cropped' ASAP. Even your green tomatoes have value as many will ripen inside your home without exposure to sun or a lot of warmth. Just make sure that they are separated so that they don't all rot (and some will) and get them up off of a solid surface. An old oven rack works wonders for this purpose.

Hardy veggies like carrots and winter squash can be harvested when you have time - no rush as the early frost will not harm them. Pick squash with the stem intact or they will rot quickly while in storage. Carrots store best in bushel baskets filled with clean sand and placed in your garage. Chances are they will do just fine there all winter, unless you live in zone 3 or 2. Prairie gardeners will have to move the bushel basket full of carrots to the basement for the winter in a month or so.


 Holland Bulbs

measuring bulb size Seeing as I didn't get around to it in September I will be planting all 3,000 of my bulbs in October. Perfect. Nice month to do it.
For a good selection of tulips, hyacinths, crocus, narcissus and the like, get to your retailer soon. Or wait for the dredges and buy them on sale. That can work too.

Plant all bulbs 3 times as deep as the bulb is thick, when you measure it from top to bottom.

By the way not all 'Holland Bulbs' are from the Netherlands (Holland being a province in that country, not the country itself). Many, if not most, daffodils that we sell in Canada are grown in British Columbia. It is a huge net export crop, with most of it going south to the U.S.
Just thought you would like to know.

If the truth were to be told, the Dutch are the greatest marketers of flowering bulbs in the world, but are not always the growers.

For a neat 3 min video on the subject go to and watch the segment dated September 22.

Speaking of Canada AM, we are presenting some interesting information for you this month on the subject of locally grown food, from the Veggie Village at The Royal Botanical Garden. Don't miss Jeff and I as we walk you through it Wednesdays as 8:45 am (EST).
Later in the month we talk about ornamental grasses and pruning - evergreens in particular.

In the Toronto Star my columns for October feature: The 'New' Ornamental Grasses (October 2), Bringing in the Harvest (October 9), Leaves: Yard Waste or Valuable Resource (October 16), and Saving Seeds (October 23).


 Garden Clean Up

spiral guard I don't get too carried away with this, but I am sure to do the following before heavy, heavy frost:
- Put a winterizing coiled collar on all of my young fruit trees to prevent mice and rabbit damage.
- Spray Wilt-Pruf� (pardon me for the spelling - it is an American product) on all of my broad leafed evergreens like yews, boxwood and rhododendrons to prevent wind desiccation. It makes ALL of the difference.
- Wrap all upright evergreens (e.g. junipers and cedars) with two layers of burlap - one to prevent sun burn and the other to break the wind (can't believe I just said that!)
- Hill up my roses with � bushel of Marks' Choice Flower & Vegetable soil (HH item #5053-695) to insulate the bud union from the effects of deep freezing/thawing.

And finally this is a great time of year to cut what is left of the flowers in your garden and bring a bunch of them inside. Do it before they disappear to the frost or go to seed.

"Arranging a bowl of flowers in the morning
Can give a sense of quiet in a crowded day
- like writing a poem or saying a prayer"
~ Anne Morrow Lindbergh

Have a great Thanksgiving!

Talk to you in a month.

Keep your knees dirty,


Merchant of Beauty.


 Mark's Choice Product of the Month
 The Ultimate Leaf Rake

leaf rake When I attended an industry trade show I was introduced to this new product by the originator of it - while he explained how this rake was different from any other that I had ever owned, he stood on it and twisted it back to demonstrate that it has a 'memory' like no other rake on the market.'

- Indestructible
- Light weight
- Great for 'throwing' leaves and grass clippings across the lawn (rather than pushing them)
- Shortens work time so you can lie in the hammock longer
- Fun to use!!

View more Mark's Choice fall products... 

 Where is Mark this month?

Home Show Friday, October 15 and Saturday, October 16

Markham Fall Home Show.
I will be speaking Friday at 5:00 pm and Saturday at 2:00 pm and 4:00 pm.
Markham Fairgrounds, Markham, Ontario

Find out more.... 

 Fall Cankerworm Round-Up

tanglefoot If you live anywhere in North America, you've probably seen them: small, greenish worms - also called inchworms, loopers, or measuringworms - that infest many species of trees including ash, basswood, beech, black cherry, red maple, sugar maple, red oak, white oak, apple, birch, boxelder, dogwood, elm, and hickory.

Fall cankerworms emerge from the soil as adult moths, usually in late October or early November. Mating takes place as the females crawl up tree trunks in search of areas to lay their eggs. When the caterpillars hatch in the spring, they will feast on and often decimate a tree's foliage.

To protect your trees from fall cankerworms, apply Tree Tanglefoot in October. Tanglefoot is a non-toxic, sticky substance that stops crawling insects from reaching the leaves. Do not apply Tree Tanglefoot directly to the trunk - use paper tree wrap or another type of banding material for easy removal. Remove and replace bands when they are full of insects.

Tree Tanglefoot has been OMRI certified for use in organic gardening and also works for gypsy moths, caterpillars, ants, root weevils, moths, and cutworms.


 Canada Blooms
 March 16-20, 2011

Canada Blooms The theme of this year's Flower and Garden Festival celebrates the rhythms of music, gardens, time, and life itself! The vibrant, oh-so-fresh magnolia, which appears on posters and newsletters, symbolizes nobility and love of nature the very essence of Canada Blooms.
Artistic Director Colomba Fuller says exciting plans are underway for this year's festival, which is celebrating 15 spectacular years of passionate landscaping displays and floral design. Experience the Green for Life project, a testament to group cooperation, where over 40 members of Landscape Ontario join together to create a stunning entrance garden. Explore breath-taking creations from Canada's Professional Florists and Tour Canada's Largest Floral Competition showcasing wondrous, creative displays from Ontario and around the world!

Find out more.... 

 Presented by Plant a Row - Grow a Row

logo Soupalicious
Toronto, October 9, 2010
Heritage Court, Exhibition Place

Sip, Slurp and Savour your way
through Soupalicious Toronto!

* Celebrate the Harvest
* Delight your Taste Buds
* Enjoy our Local Goodness

Find out more.... 

 17th Annual Charles Sauriol Environmental Dinner for the Living City

image Celebrate biodiversity with us during an evening of music and comedy, featuring a performance by the Second City.

You won't want to miss this unique performance created specifically for this event - you've never seen biodiversity portrayed in quite this way!

This event celebrates the great conservationist and visionary Charles Sauriol. It is one of Canada's largest environmental events, and raises funds to continue Sauriol's work of keeping the country green by protecting conservation lands and green space in the Toronto region. We are pleased to have George Stroumboulopoulos as our 2010 Honourary Event Chair for the Charles Sauriol Environmental Dinner, co-hosted by The Conservation Foundation of Greater Toronto and Oak Ridges Moraine Land Trust.

When: Friday, November 5, 2010
Reception starts at 6 p.m. Dinner at 7 p.m.

Where: International Centre, 6900 Airport Road
Mississauga, Ontario

Tickets: $200 per person

Find out more....