The door swung open ever so slowly. The next door too. It is hard balancing 50 pounds of tomatoes on your knee while you open two doors in close proximity to each other, but I managed.
Inside was a grinning, happy, apron-clad professional deli operator walking briskly towards me, "It is THAT time of year again! Oh my God, let me help you! I love this, Mark, I love this!"
The jolly man is Ted the owner of Mother's Deli & Bakery in Unionville, Ontario. He is my hero because no one consumes tomatoes from my 200 plants like he does. He puts them to good use too. He owns the largest pot made in history and he fills it with carrots, onions, a bit of garlic and of course tomatoes that he has strained the seeds and skins out of by hand. The result is a sauce that is rich, all his and in such demand that if you order more than a case he will give you one of his famously hearty laughs.
There is no way that he can keep up to the demand.
I love this guy for his enthusiasm and I'll tell you something else. There are few people that work as hard as he does (7 a.m. to 7 p.m. plus clean up Monday to Saturday - every week). And perhaps fewer people still who enjoy what they do as much as he does.
Visit Mother's Deli & Bakery at 100 Carlton Road, Unionville. 905-474-9162
Things To Do in September
I know I have said this before, but it is SO worth repeating. Sow grass seed and lay sod in September for a fool proof, low maintenance start to a great looking lawn. Plus, it is so much easier and the results so much better to do this now than in spring. Follow the directions on the package or watch my new video.
Generally I like to leave my perennials standing in the garden all winter long. But there are some that are just 'finished' come early fall. They not only flowered but the seed heads have been picked apart by song birds (which was part of the plan anyhow) and now the finished plant just stands there looking forlorn. Cut it down and toss the stems and stuff in the compost. I will do this with hollyhocks, veronica, Shasta daisies and the like.
The perennials that I leave standing all winter are the late flowering ones that are going to seed next month and flowering as we speak: rudebeckia, asters, mums, rodgersia and the like.
The plants that are famous for dying with the frost may still have a lot of gas in their tank before they die from frost damage. Take snapdragons, dusty miller and salvia for example. I don't know what happened to my impatiens but I have pulled them already. Brian, the gardener over at Meadowbrook Golf Course told me that 'something hit the impatiens this year; a disease.'
This is the first that I have heard of a disease in impatiens but the news made me feel much better about my own failure.
September may be the month that you rip out your annuals: if they look awful I advise pulling them. There are way too many nice fall flowering plants that you can put in the ground to take their place.
They are in retailers now. Or, they will be very shortly. Holland bulbs are a bargain and I am planting another 2,000 narcissus in my 10 acre garden to add to the 12,000 that are already there. I love these things -first to bloom, attract bees and other pollinators and announce the arrival of spring. I swear that if you could get that spring time feeling from planting bulbs on cold, autumn days more people would do it. Alas, it is like buying an annuity: invest today and clip the coupons come spring.
You just have to be patient if you want to be a gardener.
Plant! I have written an article for the Toronto Star about fall planting that will appear Saturday, September 10th. I strongly urge you to read it IF you are even thinking of planting this fall. In my opinion this is by far the best time of year to plant trees shrubs and evergreens. All of the reasons are in the article. Go to www.markcullen.com and follow the link to the Toronto Star for the article.
In addition to all of the above:
- Add 5 cm of new soil to garden beds if you did not do this in the spring.
- Cut and enjoy roses indoors as this is the 2nd best show of the year.
- Cut your lawn at 2 ½ inches. Use a mulching mower. Fertilize in October.
- Trim your cedar hedge and evergreens.
- Sit, relax and enjoy. Winter comes fast enough.
- Go to Home Hardware for many new Mark's Choice products including a compostable burlap bag [item #4440-036], a fabulous hand pruner with sharpener [item #5067-220], the world's best rake [item #5062-302] and any of the cutting tools in my line up. I am immensely proud to put my name on all of them.
"Life is not measured by how many breaths you take
But by the number of occasions that take your breath away."
Keep your knees dirty,
Merchant of Beauty