Mark Cullen e-newsletter
February 2012 
 Gardening with Mark
In This Issue:
Where to Find Mark
Mark's Gardening Connections

Join our mailing list!

A Life Worth Living

"Eternal optimist, doting grandfather, gardener, gentle man" that is how the obituary read earlier this month, announcing the passing of Ben Henry Greuel of Sudbury, Ontario.

Reading in detail I felt drawn to a very special person whom I had never met. We had something in common and that was a love for what the soil produces.

The text explained: "Everyone knew that Ben and the garden were intimately tied and one could not exist without the other. It was no surprise that when Ben could no longer plant, he passed away after a 10-year fight with cancer."

Now when I explain that Ben enjoyed his vegetable garden in the extreme you may be tempted to think that his enjoyment from it was limited to the mere production of fruits and vegetables. In fact, no, the fruit of his labours consisted of much more than what he pulled from the vine, tree or dug from the soil. He harvested the joy that comes from a partnership with nature that only gardeners understand.

"The produce of his garden will also be missed. The first asparagus, carrot, potato, corn and tomato were anxiously awaited. When he no longer needed to feed his children, the produce would find its way onto neighbours' plates and to the local soup kitchen."

That, in my opinion, is a life worth living.

We nurture and grow, we gardeners, much more than meets the eye.

Thanks to his children for writing this message in the January 10 edition of the Globe and Mail. You made my day.


Geranium seedlings This is the first month of the spring season that exists in your head.
The other one - the real spring - arrives with the robins and the crocus.
It is the spring in your head that I would like to address here.

The vegetable and flower garden that is going to bring you so much joy and pleasure this coming season is, in its current form, a seed. More accurately, seeds with an 's', in packets with another 's'. And now is the time to get started.

The image that you have of a spring filled with colour and fragrance and bird song starts here.

Petunias, geraniums, pansies and impatiens need to be started now in order to have them sized up for planting out come spring. If you live in Newfoundland or on the prairies you are allowed a bit of grace - start yours later this month, as your real spring arrives in early June.

If you have geranium plants in pots, sitting in a sunny window somewhere, now is a good time to strike cuttings and get them planted up. For details on how to do this click here and watch Jeff Hutcheson of CTV Canada AM ask me all of the pertinent questions as we demo this one for all Canadians.

* Be sure to shake the snow off of your evergreens, especially the heavy, wet stuff.

*Avoid using salt on your walkways and driveway - all I use is Alaskan Ice Melter. It does not hurt plants when you use it as directed, has a lower 'melting' point than salt and contains a blue marker that tells you where you laid it down. Handy, safe and Canadian, in spite of its name.

For more info on Alaskan Ice Melter 


The Green File On the Communications front I have some exciting news.

1. The radio feature Green File that I have written and produced for 680 News in Toronto for the last couple of years is now carried weekly in Ottawa on 1310 News, in Calgary on 660 News and in Vancouver at News 1130.

Each station will receive their own customized version of the Green File and I guarantee that the information will be 100% appropriate for the growing zone and time of year relative to the radio station location.

Here are the weekly air times for each station:

680 NEWS Toronto: Listen every Thursday, Friday and Sunday

1310 NEWS Ottawa: Thursdays 11:49am, 3:49pm, 1:49am. Saturdays 1:49pm, 8:49pm, 1:49am. Sundays 12:49pm, 6:49pm, 11:49pm

660 NEWS Calgary: Thursdays 10am hour, 1pm hour, 7pm hour. Saturdays 6am hour, 10am hour, 3pm hour

NEWS 1130 Vancouver: Times to be announced.

2. My weekly Toronto Star article will be carried bi-weekly in the Brant News, Brantford Ontario. I am hoping to build the syndication of 'Mark Cullen' and will keep you up to date on that score. In the meantime I am delighted to have a voice in the Brantford market where I have many friends and where there are some great gardens and gardeners!


 Calling All Hockey Fans and Gardeners!

Long Pond Classic Hockey fans and gardeners? What? Yes, you heard right.
Windsor Nova Scotia is the home of hockey -where the first game was ever played (arguably) on Long Pond, at the foot of King's-Edgehill School. And we are celebrating with a fun fundraiser for the Hockey Heritage Museum in Windsor, Nova Scotia.

February 11 we will play a game of shinny on Long Pond (the Long Pond Classic) and you are invited. For $500 you will get a great heritage hockey jersey, a game with hockey greats Syl Apps (who is working out right now in preparation) and Terry O'Reilly previously of Boston um, oh yea, Bruins. That's it.

Plus we are going to have a great celebratory dinner at the boy's school at the top of the hill, overlooking Long Pond. Lots of toasts and cheers to our great game! $250 of your fee will be given back to you in the form of a tax receipt from the museum.

We are hoping to raise 6 teams of 12 players. We are well on our way but could use your help. Go to for all of the details and to sign up.


 Mermaid Theatre - Gardening. Friday, February 10th

Windsor, Nova Scotia Speaking in a venue with the name Mermaid sounds like a lot of fun. This is an historic place in the heart of old Windsor and I will be on stage with my good humoured friend Denis Flanagan with a colour PowerPoint presentation that will thrill and excite you.


Tickets are only $10 and you can buy yours at the Home Hardware in Windsor, Nova Scotia and elsewhere in town I am sure. All of the proceeds go towards the West Hants Middle School band trip to Montreal. They like good music in Montreal and they will get it, if you and your friends show up for this exciting event.

You will receive a 'goodie bag' at the door worth $10 or more.

It is one of those rare deals where everyone wins big time.
And we are going to have a great time!

That is hardly it, read on below for more gardening related news that you really need.

Thanks so much for reading. I will see you on the other side of February with lots more exciting stuff including an update on this year's edition of Canada Blooms - now the largest flower/garden and home show on the continent! I'll explain. if you can't wait to hear it from me.

Keep your knees dirty,



 Mark's Choice Product of the Month
 Premium Vegetable Seed Collection

Vegetable Seed Collection The Mark's Choice product development team at Home Hardware has been looking for a premium collection of vegetable seeds for years for Canadian gardeners, and we have finally found it.

I am pleased to introduce 12 premium veggie seed varieties that have been selected for: garden fresh flavour, ease of growing in Canadian conditions, and overall garden performance.

I have grown these seeds and presented the harvest at our table. I believe that you will equally enjoy the experience of growing and eating these vegetables.
Dusky Green Bean 5063-161
Slenderwax Yellow Bean 5063-162
Kestrel Beet 5063-163
Juno Hybrid Carrot 5063-164
Fanfare Cucumber 5063-165
Lollo Rossa Lettuce 5063-166
Tango Green Leaf Lettuce 5063-167
Simply Salad Blend 5063-168
Early Frost Pea 5063-169
Samich Spinach 5063-170
Golden Delight Yellow Zucchini Squash 5063-171
Blue Spice Basil 5063-172

Retail $1.99. Not a lot and not cheap either - in my opinion, for the quality they are a bargain.

View all Mark's Choice new products for 2012 

 Where is Mark this Spring

Where is Mark? February 10 - Mermaid theatre, Windsor Nova Scotia. Hosted by Windsor Home Hardware. For more information visit

February 11 - Long Pond Hockey Classic. (see my note above)

March 2 - Markham Spring Home Show. I speak at 4:00pm.

March 16-21 - Canada Blooms - Denis Flanagan and I welcome you to the Festival on Friday, Saturday, Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday mornings at 11am. My daughter Heather and I present on Friday, March 16 at 1pm. Join us to hear about our trip to Cornwall, England last summer.

March 23 and 24 - Ottawa Home Show.

March 28 - Brooklin Horticultural Society

March 31 - Burlington Home Show. I speak at 1pm.

April 7 - Oakville Home Show.

April 14 - Milton Home Show.

April 27 - Handyman Home Hardware event, Conception Bay South.

April 28 and 29 - Landscape & Garden Show, NFLD


 Facebook Contests

Facebook You have 2 chances to win a signed copy of my gardening book each week on Facebook. Submit photos of your amaryllis. If you have the most blooms, tallest leaves or tallest flower stalk, you could win a book.

A second book is awarded each week to one of the 'followers' of my Facebook page. If you 'like' my page you are entered to win.

Enjoy a great February - your last month off before we begin gardening for real, cooperation from Mother Nature notwithstanding.