Mark Cullen e-newsletter
October 2011 
 Gardening with Mark
In This Issue:
Where to Find Mark
Mark's Gardening Connections

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I am not one for making lists. I hate them.

When my wife Mary has some things for me to do - which generally are not too handy in nature as she knows better than to trust me with a job that requires a hammer, saw, measuring tape or level. Instead she will tell me verbally and couches the 'ask' with 'when you have time'.

I find this much more civilized than hanging a to-do list on the fridge with a note, "Gone shopping" or whatever. Mary and I can be very blunt with each other in so many ways, but I am grateful that the to-do list thing was not a part of the marriage contract 30 years ago.

So, it is with this in mind that I gingerly offer a to-do list for October. When you have time, perhaps you would consider doing these things. Otherwise, your roses may freeze their tops off, shrubs may get eaten by bunnies and the lawn may emerge come spring with a case of snow mould that looks like the plague.

With the best of intentions I suggest that you print this portion of my October newsletter and keep it somewhere that it will serve a useful purpose. If the fridge is the place, so be it.

 October To-Do List

Push mower Lawns

* Fertilize your lawn - this is the most important application of the year. Use a slow release nitrogen product for best results. I use CIL Golfgreen Fall Lawn Fertilizer.

* Cut your lawn (soon for the last time!) about 2 � inches or 6 cm high.

* Lubricate your lawn mower, sharpen the blades, clean the cutting deck and spray with oil.


* Dig your carrots, leeks, left over potatoes etc. and store in bushel baskets � full of pure, dry sand. Put in your basement or fruit cellar.

* Pull up your remaining tomato plants and hang them in the cellar or the garage while the green fruit ripens. They do not need light to do this.

* Harvest leaf lettuce, mesclin and the like.

* Remove the spent bean plants etc. and put in your compost.


 Compost and Leaves

Leaf mould * Put spent annual plants in your composter or compost pile.

* Remove the finished compost from your compost unit or pile and spread it over your perennial bed or veggie garden.

* Rake leaves off of your lawn and on to your garden where they will decompose and the earth worms will pull them down into the soil.

* Steal leaves from your neighbours who no doubt did not read the above tip and have put their leaves out for recycling pick up, neatly pressed into paper bags for you to take home and compost. Free fertilizer.

Plant Holland tulips, daffodils, crocus and the like.


 I know. I am not ready to write this part any more than you are ready to read it.

Wilt-Pruf * Begin thinking about winterizing your roses that are not of the 'shrub' type. Hybrid Teas, Grandifloras, Floribundas etc. will need about 50 cm (1 � feet) of fresh triple mix piled up from the bottom. If you live on the Prairies, now is a good time to do this. In central Canada and the Maritimes the best time to do this is just before the Grey Cup game (which is 6 weeks away - which is why you are going to post this list somewhere that you don't forget it) - the game is your reward for doing the job!

* Wrap spiral plastic collars on young fruit trees to protect them from rodent damage (anytime).

* Spray broad-leafed evergreens with Wilt-pruf (an anti-desiccant) to prevent the drying effects of winter wind. (apply when killing frosts are here and just before the snow flies)

* Wipe down all of your digging and cutting tools with an oily cloth when you are finished with them for the season.

On a more positive note remember that there are plants that will survive and even thrive in cold weather. Belgium Mums, New England Asters, Sedum Spectabile and ornamental grasses all look great this time of year. Don't forget flowering cabbage and kale: they improve their looks with frost!

The air is clear and hopefully you will receive some sunshine for your fall work days!!


 Home Hardware and Mark's Choice

Product feedback I continue to work with my friends (and they are my friends!) at Home Hardware on new products that are designed to help make gardening easier and a more enjoyable experience for you. Check out the list of over 50 products at and after you have used any or all of them please let me know how they worked for you. I read every comment and value your feedback - good, critical or otherwise.

Click here to share your feedback 

 Green Tomato Recipes
 And Hee Man Soup

Green tomatoes Post your green tomato recipes on my Facebook page.
Let's share the wealth of information. And the goodness of a bumper crop of green tomatoes!!

Join me October 1st in Toronto at Heritage Court, Exhibition Place, for Soupalicious. I will be making Hee Man soup for all to enjoy with veggies from my garden and perhaps some edible flowers too! It is going to be fun! Farmers market and craft fair too.

For more info. 

 Mark's Choice Product of the Month
 World's Best Leaf Rake

Rake This rake 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!!

(Home Hardware item# 5049-352)


 Where is Mark this Month?

Fall Home Show * Saturday, October 1
Heritage Court, Exhibition Place
For more information visit

* Saturday, October 15
Markham Fall Home Show
I speak at 2:00pm followed by a book signing.
For more information visit


 Digging and Storing Dahlia Tubers

Dahlia Allow your dahlias to experience a hard frost before you prepare them for winter storage. Allow the plant to dieback naturally. Use a garden fork to loosen the soil around the tuber. Carefully lift the tuber out of the soil and wash gently to remove remaining dirt. Allow the tuber to dry for 24 hours in a cool, dry location.
This is a good time to divide large dahlia tubers into smaller sections. Each new division must have an eye (bud) to produce a new plant. Use a sharp, clean knife to divide tubers into sections.
Place tubers in a cardboard box with sawdust or vermiculite. Choose a storage location in a dry area where the temperature will remain near 40oF. Check on the tubers periodically during the winter. Look for signs of shriveling. If the tubers are beginning to shrivel you can moisten the storage medium.

Thanks to Merle Carson of the Greater Moncton Dahlia Club for the fantastic selection of Dahlias I received this year.

For more info on this great Club visit their new website 

 Special Container Edition

Magazine cover From the publishers of Gardens Central, Gardens East and Gardens West comes a Special Container Edition.

This special issue is filled with both new information and old tricks we can all use about container gardening.

Be sure to check out my article, "Tomatoes in Containers", for the hottest tips on Canada's favourite homegrown veggie.

Watch for the Special Container Edition on newsstands October 1.

For more information 

 October 1 and 2

Soupalicious Susan Antler started Soupalicous five years ago. It is a celebration of the harvest and a demonstration of what people can do when they come together under a common cause.

This annual event takes place Saturday, October 1 and Sunday, October 2 at Heritage Court, Direct Energy Centre, Exhibition Place.

Soupalicous sounds like a great way to celebrate the bounty of our great land and the harvest of the season.

You can purchase $10 tickets in advance at or pay $15 at the door.
Hours: 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Sat. and Sun.
Heritage Court, Direct Energy Centre, Exhibition Place


 David Tarrant Talk
 Magnificent Abundance: The Gardens and Wildflowers of San Miguel do Allende

David Tarrant The Applewood Garden Club is pleased to announce that David Tarrant is coming to Mississauga on October 14 th.
Situated high on the central plateau of Mexico is the charming colonial town of San Miguel de Allende. During rainy season its High Desert landscape is transformed by a stunning array of wildflowers. Let David take you on a tour of the choicest blooms and the town's most magnificent gardens, including his own garden and the home of Toller Cranston.

For tickets and information please go to or contact Wendy Bell at 905-891-7884.

Date: October 14, 2011
Time: 7-9 pm
Venue: Noel Ryan Theatre
301 Burnhamthorpe Rd W.
Mississauga, ON, L5B 3Y3
Cost: $20
Proceeds to The Riverwood Conservancy.


 Toronto Botanical Garden's Enchanted Eve

TBG On November 10, 2011, magic unfolds at the TBG's Enchanted Eve fundraising event, with special guest host - Rex Harrington of the National Ballet of Canada.

Experience pure pleasure with a multi-course gourmet dinner, gentle entertainment and delightful surprises - all in an exquisitely evocative and romantic setting.

For more information and to purchase tickets