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

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August. Harvest time begins.

My Dad, Len, always said that the garden looks better during the first full week of August than any other time of year. That rather broad generality may be true in your garden, maybe not.

It seems to me that if you own a cottage or a cabin and you spend most of your summer there, you would be wise to plan your garden to look best in the 'shoulder' seasons. Spring and fall is when your garden should peak - two peaks!

Your vacation property, on the other hand, should be planted with a selection of flowering and fruiting trees, shrubs, perennials and annuals that peak this time of year. Right now the Rudebeckia, Echinacea and hydrangeas are looking their very best. Later in August the Japanese anemones and asters will begin to show off.


Mark's Garden The greatest pleasure that one can derive from garden design is choreographing the sequence of colour that occurs each season in such a way that it is never dull and always attracting desirable wildlife like hummingbirds, song birds and butterflies.

Keep in mind that before a butterfly becomes an adult it is a larvae or 'caterpillar'. They have to eat too, and do; Leaves and fruit of some of your desirable plants.

My solution for 'larvae' is to plant more than I need and share it. Ditto for the rabbits that frequent my garden. And there are lots this year!


 Speaking of Sharing.

Tomatoes I am driving down to my buddy Ted's, the proprietor of Mother's Deli in Unionville, with my first truck load of tomatoes next week. The crop looks like a doozy.

The heat, dryness and our ability to get just the right amount of water on my 250 tomato plants this year equals a great success, pending the development of public enemy #1 - early blight. To prevent this I apply Green Earth Bordo mixture. I highly recommend that you do this as blight is more prevalent across the country than ever before.

Beat Tomato Blandness - grow your own.

Ever wondered why the tomatoes that you buy at the supermarket, the ones that are perfectly red, do not taste very good? Flavourless? Bland? That's because they are strip mined in greenhouses and in vast fields in the southern States. For a more fulsome explanation here is a 'blog' that my summer time assistant wrote. Marette explains exactly what the difference is and it is fascinating.

"I recently read an article about tomatoes and how, over the years, they have lost their flavour. Those ripe, red tomatoes that look so delicious in the grocery store have actually been bred to look that good and in the process their flavour has been bred out.

Here's how it works: over the past 70 years, tomatoes have been selected for their uniform green colour and consequently their uniform ripening capabilities. All done in an effort to supply us, the consumer, with tomatoes that look evenly red in the stores. It turns out that the molecules that code for uniform ripening are actually a mutation. When this mutation is present, the molecules that code for the tomato's sugars (and therefore, sweet flavour) are disabled. The result: a tomato that looks nice on the shelves but has a compromised taste (maybe that's why your kids aren't a fan of them).

Other than appealing visually to the consumer, the less flavoured tomatoes have some added nutritional benefits that result from the mutation - a chemical called lycopene. Researchers at the University of California are looking into a way to find a middle ground: a tomato that is sweet and has all the same nutritional benefits of one with less flavour. So far, they have discovered that tomatoes that are darker green before ripening have a higher number of sugars and lycopene. A combination of flavour and health benefits.

The tomatoes we grow on Mark's farm have more flavour than those bought in a store. They don't last as long once they're ripe but I don't mind - I'd prefer that my tomatoes don't look ripe and ready to eat for three weeks. And this is just one more reason to start your own garden, grow your own vegetables, learn something about where your food comes from, and have fun in the process. Get your kids involved - it's an excellent way to help teach them that food doesn't just come from the grocery store."
~ Marette Sharp



Relax Enjoy some time off work this month. If your boss gives you a hard time about it have her give me a call.

I plan to be out of the office anyway.

Remember that all fruiting plants need to be relieved of ripe fruit as they become ripe. This helps to maximize the fruit bearing ability of the plant.

August is a good time to sow some late season lettuce, radishes, spinach, beans and peas. Go for it and surprise yourself at your success rate.

Thank you so much for your time and remember that you can keep up to date by watching Jeff Hutcheson and I on Canada AM each Wednesday at 8:45am (EST) or go to the streaming edition any time.

Also check out my weekly blogs, the Green File podcasts and daily Facebook updates.

Keep your knees dirty,



 Mark's Choice Product of the Month
 Bypass Pruner with Sharpener

Pruning Set These are the best hand pruners that I have ever used. They hold an edge, don't bind up, reduce wrist fatigue and they feel just right in my hand.

This 8 �" drop forged aluminum pruner features high carbon steel blades with a non-stick coating, and a unique cutting action that draws the branch into the blades. The sharpener is 4 �" long with a tungsten carbide blade and has an oil reservoir for sharpening at one end.
(Home Hardware item# 5067-220)

This month I am giving away one of the pruning sets each week. 'Like' my Facebook page for your chance to win.


 How to Over-Seed Your Lawn

CIL The last two weeks of August and the first two weeks of September are the ideal time for sowing grass seed. The evening temperatures are lower and the morning dew is heavier. Day time temperatures are optimum for seed germination.

* Preparation is the second most important item that you need to keep in mind. Rake the area lightly to remove debris. Add a 1cm to 2cm layer of triple mix to level out low patches in the lawn.

* The most important thing to remember - the seed that you use in the future pedigree of your lawn - choose the best quality seed for the best result. I recommend CIL Golfgreen grass seed. Look for the right mix for your lawn - either 'sun' or 'shade' loving.

Rake the seed to smooth it and integrate it into the layer of triple mix. Step on it with flat soled shoes to get the seed and soil in firm contact.

* Water the seeded areas and keep the soil damp until the grass is at least 3cm high.


 Niagara Parks Floral Showhouse Unveils New Bonsai Exhibit

Floral Showhouse The Niagara Parks Commission, in partnership with the Niagara Bonsai Society, is pleased to announce the launch of the first ever Summer Bonsai Show at the Floral Showhouse.

The popular public greenhouse will feature a Japanese theme this season with several unique bonsai trees on display surrounded by a combination of summer annuals and tropical plants through to September 16, 2012.

Also on display at the Floral Showhouse are magnificent tropical displays and an award-winning Orchid collection. Over 70 tropical free flying birds also call the Floral Showhouse their home. The expanded "Shop in the Garden" also includes a caf� area where visitors may enjoy light refreshments and shop for unique garden gifts.

The Floral Showhouse is located just south of the Horseshoe Falls, at 7145 Niagara Parkway. Open daily from 9:30am to 5pm with extended hours to 8pm on Saturdays through to Labour Day.

Admission is $5. Parking is available on site.

For more information 

 International Garden Festival
 Grand-Metis, Quebec

Reford Gardens Twenty-six gardens are on display at the 13th International Garden Festival at Les jardins de Metis'Reford Gardens in eastern Quebec.

Designed by 64 landscape architects and artists from Canada, Australia, France, Germany, the United Kingdom and the United States, the gardens illustrate the extraordinary originality they bring to renewing the art of the garden.

Created in 2000, the International Garden Festival is the premier festival dedicated to the creation and exhibition of conceptual gardens in North America. Since its inaugural edition, the festival has presented more than 130 gardens by over 500 designers from around the world and attracted more than 750,000 visitors.

The 2012 International Garden Festival runs through September 30.

For more information 

 Canada's Garden Route

Garden Route Do you want to know about the remarkable gardens of Canada? Visit presented by VIA Rail Canada where you'll discover 25 of the country's most magnificent gardens, hundreds of garden attractions, garden-related festivals and events, garden networks and trails, some of the country's most delightful Communities in Bloom and more.

Treat yourself to the perfect vacation, thanks to VIA Rail. Take advantage of special fares all summer long and enjoy a train trip that will appeal to young and old alike. 1-888-VIA RAIL (1-888-842-7245)


 The Brandon Garden Club's
 Annual Flower, Fruit and Vegetable Show

Brandon Garden Club Plus amazing arrangements, Containers, Succulents, Unusual splendours & elegances

A Show of Natural Beauty

Monday, August 13
Viewing of Exhibitions: 1pm to 6pm
Tea with Treats: 1pm to 4pm (minimum contribution $2)
At the main hall of Seniors for Seniors, 311 Park Avenue East

This show is open to all including non-members.
Non-member cost is $5 for up to 20 entries.

For more info. 

 International Influences
 Inspiring Ideas for Trees in Public Space Thursday, August 16, 2012

7:00pm - 8:30pm

Event Location: Metro Hall, 55 John St., Rooms 308-308, Toronto

Speaker: Brendan Stewart, Landscape Architect and Urban Designer, ERA Architects, Toronto

Planting trees to enhance and humanize our cities is a practice as old as human civilization. Join us as we explore the rich aesthetic traditions and histories of planting trees in gardens, parks and urban open spaces from around the worls, and how these practices shape our ideas about green space here in Toronto.

To register call 416-413-9244 or visit:


 Canning Recipe Contest Launched to
 Preserve the Past - Relish our Future

Relish our Future Preserving the bounty of Canada's many local harvests is the focus of a timely recipe contest, launched as part of the 75th Anniversary of Parks Canada PEI. From now to September 14, 2012, folks are encouraged to share a favourite family canning or pickling recipe and the story that makes it special.

Each recipe submitted will receive a special recognition certificate to mark this heritage occasion and also be entered into a draw for one of ten home canning kits provided by one of the contest's supporters, Bernardin Canada. The prizes will be drawn at Green Gables on Saturday, September 29, 2012.

Your canning or pickling recipe can be submitted by visiting or mailing it to:
Preserve the Past - Relish our Future
100 Watts Avenue
Charlottetown, PEI
C1E 2C1

For more information 

 Bobcaygeon and District Horticultural Society
 Guest Speaker: Alan McMurtrie

Bobcaygeon Topic: Unusual Irises

Date: Thursday, September 20

Time: 7pm fellowship and refreshments. 7:30pm Speaker begins

Location: Knox Presbyterian Church Hall. Corner of Queen St. and Joseph St.

Contact: Barry Scully by email [email protected]

At the end of Alan's presentation, we have a question period in which we can ask him questions about irises. In addition, we have draws for prizes donated by the society and its members. Come out and participate in learning about irises and enjoy the social interaction with other gardeners.


 National Tree Day
 September 26, 2012

National Tree Day This will be the second year that Canada finally has its own official day to celebrate trees. Are you ready? Go to to find out how you can participate in this important day!

National Tree Day will serve as a celebration for all Canadians to appreciate the great benefits that trees provide us - clean air, wildlife habitat, reducing energy demand and connecting with nature.

Attention Community Groups: Free Celebration Kits. We want to give you the tools you need to make your National Tree Day event a huge success. Go to Register your community group or school activity and you could win 1 of 10 $500 prizes.

For more information 

 Spindle Tree Gardens

Spindle Tree Gardens Twenty years ago, Susan Meisner and Tom Brown bought a run-down bungalow on a derelict 80-acre farm near Tamworth, a small village two and a half hours east of Toronto. What was to be a weekend retreat from the city evolved into a passion; 20 acres of gardens surround the transformed house: a greenhouse, rose gardens, ponds, waterfalls, rockeries, a maze, a new orangery/conservatory, and many, many spindle trees that come into their full glory in autumn.

Why travel to Europe when you have one of Canada's great gardens on your doorstep?

Spindle Tree Gardens is already a destination for gardeners, city dwellers looking for relief, photographers, bird and wildlife lovers, and brides.

For more information 

 Canada Blooms
 March 15-24, 2013

Canada Blooms It is official; Canada Blooms will take place March 15-24, 2013 at the Direct Energy Centre in Toronto.

Canada Blooms conducted a number of online surveys just after this year's festival and the response has been overwhelmingly in favour of the new co-located event. As a result Canada Blooms and the National Home Show will again co-locate in 2013.

North America's Largest Home and Garden Event will once more offer visitors an opportunity to experience both events for one admission price.

For more information