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

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I blame the toothpaste companies.

They started this whole thing against bacteria.
Now, I won't argue that there are some bad bacteria out there that cause tooth decay. And for that matter, when it comes to double dipping at the nachos bowl, I am with all of the advocates of once only, please. By the way, I would appreciate it if you would sneeze into your sleeve rather than your hand before we shake. Ok?

But, as always, there is another side to the story. Bacteria can be good. In fact without it we would be up to our eaves with un-rotted leaves. Think about it: if all of the leaves that fall each autumn in your neighbourhood did not rot down into rich compost and become incorporated with the soil, where would we be? Drowning in them, that is where.

It takes a lot of active bacteria to break down the leaves in your garden and if you are smart you will embrace them and employ them to do your work. You will save time, effort and money. All you need to do is to rake the leaves that are on your lawn onto your garden. Simple. Really. Add some water if they are dry, after they have been spread over your garden, just to hold them in place and to start the natural cycle of decomposition.

If you choose to put your leaves in your composter, so much the better. Run your lawn mower over them, set at its highest setting, and rake up what is left. The small bits that were once leaves will break down in your composter nicely. And fast. Add Green Earth Compost Accelerator to get the bacteria working early and fast and voila - compost before you know it (by next spring).

 While I am At It

Mark's Choice rake Will somebody out there support me on my campaign to ban gas powered leaf blowers? Honestly, if there ever was a scourge of outdoor urban/suburban life it is these things. Who came up with the idea that it is better to blow than to rake? At what expense? Your hearing? Your neighbour's hearing? Neighbourly relations? The loss of all common sense?

I am one of those people who happen to think that a rake is not only cheaper and better for the environment but it can also take less time to rake then to blow your leaves into a pile. I challenge anyone with a power leaf blower to a 'rake-off'. You can bring your choice of blower and I my choice of rake.

I will tell you right now that I will bring the 'world's best rake': it is a Mark's Choice rake, the rake with a memory and unequaled grip. And exclusive to Home Hardware (how come these guys get all of the good stuff?)

If you would like to join me in the fight against gas assisted leaf blowers please let me know. And perhaps you can tell me who we should complain to. Because I am at a loss. I did hear that there are municipalities in California where they have successfully been banned. Touché to them!!


 Unionville Property Care

Unionville Property Care On a positive note I have this photo that I want to share of two guys on a commercial yard clean up crew who are using rakes. I passed them on the road on my way into work this week and stopped to congratulate them and thank them for not polluting the neighbourhood while doing their job. I will acknowledge that there was a power leaf blower on the job site, but it sat silent while the boys raked up the leaves and put them in to their truck.

I think that we should use any company that chooses to rake rather than blow leaves. What do you think? In this case, Unionville Property Care deserves kudos, in my view and if I am in the market I will be giving them a call.

Now when I see a truck travelling down the road with all of their hand tools (including some rakes) standing up end at the nose of the truck I whisper a little thanks for common sense.


 Grey Cup is Your Reward

To Do List Remember that November is a great month to finish up what you started in October: raking leaves, winterizing the roses, fertilizing your lawn with Golfgreen Fall Lawn Fertilizer (the most important application of the year), applying Wilf-Pruf to your broadleaf evergreens like yews, boxwood and rhododendrons, mowing the lawn for the final time, protecting young trees with spiral guards, and winterizing tools.

My annual 'to do' list was the theme of last month's newsletter - perhaps you would like to review it again in the archives just to make sure that you are up to date.

Once done you can sit back and watch the Grey Cup knowing that your investments in a great looking garden come spring has been made.

Thanks for reading this and listening to my weekly podcast at and features on 680 News and for following me in the Saturday Star (New Homes and Condos Section or and for checking out my activities on Facebook.

All the best for a great end of the gardening season! Talk to you in December as we begin the first of our 4 months off in the garden. It is OUR season to dream. And dream we will!!


Merchant of Beauty


 Mark's Choice Product of the Month
 Mummy Style Burlap Wrap

Burlap Wrap * Protects trees and shrubs from snow, wind and salt damage.

* Wide design (20" x 20') allows for easy installation.

* Kit comes complete with 50' of jute twine.

* This new wider burlap wrap will make quick work of protecting your shrubs and trees from the winter elements.

* Home Hardware item# 5094-519


 Bobbex Deer Repellent
 Now Available in Canada

Bobbex The 'most asked' gardening question that I get outside of densely populated urban areas is, "How do I prevent deer from eating the plants in my garden."

In my experience this product is the best that there is for deer and rodent protection. Bobbex is an all natural and environmentally friendly deer repellent spray. It deters deer from eating trees, shrubs and flowers in suburban and rural landscapes.

Made from a mixture of protein-based ingredients, it naturally repels deer by both scent and taste, with an added bit from super-hot pepper extract. Within 24 hours of spraying, the distinct odour dissipates, but it remains detectable to deer for over a month.

Spray the ready to use product on all parts of the plant including leaves, stems and flowers. Spray plants until wet but not saturated.
Bobbex does not wash off in the rain. Once it has dried on the plant it will not wash off, even in the heaviest of rains.

BOBBEX Repellent makes a great fall bulb dip to prevent burrowing herbivores from smelling and discovering your wintered bulbs. These animals use their keen sense of smell to find roots and bulbs underground. It creates an aromatic barrier around the bulb and prevents these animals from discovering the bulb. Using BOBBEX as a bulb protector will give your bulbs a chance to survive when first planted and throughout the winter, protecting them from burrowing herbivores. BOBBEX deters Deer, Rabbits, Groundhogs, Squirrels, Chipmunks, and Voles.

Directions: Before planting, remove all loose and dried skin from the bulbs. Dip bulbs in straight concentrated BOBBEX (right out of the bottle). Allow bulbs to soak for 3-5 minutes. Remove bulbs from the BOBBEX concentrate and allow them to completely air dry. This protective coating will also break down slowly, to provide nutrients for the growing plant.

(Home Hardware item #s: 0.95L Ready to Use spray #5089-702, 0.95L Concentrate #5089-700)

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 Spreading Roots
 Working Together to Protect Our Urban Trees

Spreading Roots On November 3, 4, and 5, Toronto Botanical Garden will host a tree symposium titled Spreading Roots, a fitting finale to the UN-decreed International Year of Forests.

The purpose of the symposium is to explore critical issues affecting urban trees while examining what can be accomplished if advocacy groups work together to ensure their survival.

The symposium, which is presented in conjunction with the Ontario Urban Forest Council, will span three days, and comprises two days of speakers and panel discussions, and one day of outdoor tours.

Open to all those who care about our urban forests; professionals and passionate community advocates alike, it is a conference not to be missed! Hear from researchers, community leaders, designers and experts from Europe, Cornell and across the province.

Dates: November 3, 4 and 5, 2011
Location: Toronto Botanical Garden. 777 Lawrence Avenue East
Details and registration available at For more information call 416-397-1355


 Students Helping Students
 A Special Evening of Music

Participation House I have taken part in this fabulous event for 3 years in a row and would not miss it. Last year I met a couple who were sitting right behind me at the concert who had learned of it by reading this newsletter - they were really pleased with their night out and amazed (as I was) by the quality of the performances.

Please join us if you possibly can for this worthwhile event! ~Mark

High Schools unite to perform and raise funds for Participation House, Markham Adult Education Program.

Date: Friday, November 11, 2011 at 7:30pm
Location: Markham Theatre for Performing Arts. 171 Town Centre Blvd

Tickets available at the Box Office of the Theatre (905-305-7469) & Online

For more information please call: (905) 513-2756 ext. 222


 Cruise Holidays of Clarkson proudly presents
 Enchanting Rhine & Floriade 13 Day River Cruise

Floriade & Rhine From my good friend Denis Flanagan, a suggestion to join him for a fabulous cruise down the Rhine River. Mary and I did this cruise a couple of years ago and thoroughly enjoyed it. I think that you will enjoy it even more with Denis on board!! ~Mark

From Denis:
"Months ago Mark suggested Cruise Holidays of Clarkson contact me regarding organizing a trip to Europe focusing on a garden theme. A lot of planning has resulted in a fabulous river cruise on the Rhine with one of the highlights being a visit to Floriade.

This is an amazing event that is produced every 10 years and is a must see for gardeners.

Full details of the trip can be seen on the link I am looking forward to hosting the event and having a fun filled time with fellow gardeners."

Thanks for the opportunity Mark, I will send you a postcard."

Denis Flanagan
Garden writer, TV host, honourary master gardener and Public Relations Manager for Landscape Ontario

Dates: September 12-24, 2012

More info: or email