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

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The Voice of Youth: a voice of hope.

She speaks for us all.

In the news just last week was the announcement that a Canadian, 21 year old H�l�ne Campbell, had reached her 6 month anniversary of breathing with 2 new lungs. From the article in the Globe and Mail article, my favourite quote:

"I think we live in a wonderful world where people are willing to act on something like this [organ donation] - a selfless act that can help save others' lives and I am just so blessed by this amazing support and it's such an incredible inspiration to me.
And it shows me how much we are loved.
I value faith and I believe there is a God taking care of us and it really shines through in this whole situation, how just everyone has jumped on board."

My response to this is to suggest that the 'inspiration' cuts both ways. As inspired as H�l�ne is by the generosity of someone who donated their organs after they died, I am moved by her conviction. Who strings words together like this? 'Wonderful world', 'selfless act', 'amazing support', 'I value faith and believe in God'. This is 2012 and we don't hear this very often in popular media.

Our youth are often painted as basement dwelling, obsessive video playing, on-strike for a cheaper [or free!] education, generation of freeloaders who refuse to leave home.


interns I have seen the other side. This past summer I hired 2 intern students to help me with my work: Marette helped in my 10 acre garden and with my writing at the office. Melissa helped to shepherd the new organisation, Trees For Life, the Urban Tree Coalition through our first stages of development [more on that in a future newsletter].

It was my experience that they are smart, committed to doing good work, anxious to learn and equally anxious to listen. Melissa is focused on a business career and will go far. Marette is less certain of her professional future but will go equally far. When you are in your early 20's you can take your time with such things.

I learned something while reading what H�l�ne had to say. Her experience as an organ recipient has obviously moved her. My summer experience with two interns was an education unto itself. The lessons that they taught me through their enthusiasm, questions and open minds are clear: no matter what our age, we can be a support to one another. The inspiration will come.

I urge you to sign your organ donor card.


 In the Garden

fertilize October is an outstanding month in the garden.

As we enter the 4th lap of our annual 'gardening relay' it is important to push aside the temptation to light a fire and sit when there is so much to be done out there. Here is my list of suggested gardening activities:

Fertilize your lawn. This is the most important application that you will make all year. Why? Golfgreen Fall Lawn Fertilizer is formulated to build up the natural sugars at the root zone of grass plants. You will get a faster green up come spring, less snow mould and a stronger, healthier lawn.

The later that you apply this in fall, the better. So the timing of application varies from region to region. Wait for a few 'killing frosts' which will slow down the metabolism of grass plants, creating the perfect conditions for application. No need to water in and if you seeded your lawn recently, so much the better.

Golfgreen, for the record, is all that I use on my lawn. Why? It contains the most sophisticated form of slow release nitrogen in the business. It is safe ['apply and play'], lasts a long time and is great value for the money.


 Harvest / Don't Harvest

tomatoes Harvest.

Tomatoes still on the vine? Peppers? Potatoes in the ground? Get them harvested before a killing frost finishes them for you.

A tomato plant can be hung in your garage for a week or two [depending on night time frost] where it will ripen remaining fruit. If you still have tomatoes on the 'vine' after a couple of weeks remove them, green ones included, and put them in the basement in the dark, sitting up on an old rake [off of a hard surface] so that air circulates around them.

They will ripen over time. They won't be as tasty as the garden fresh ones, but much better than store bought ones from the greenhouse or strip mined in the states.

Don't harvest.

There are some winter vegetables that actually improve flavour as the cold weather arrives. Parsnips, leeks, carrots, kale and cabbage would be a few of them.

Others, that are tolerant of light frost, but do not 'improve' with frost necessarily but can remain in the garden for the time being if you don't have somewhere to put them indoors just yet. These include winter squash, broccoli, cauliflower and pumpkins.


 Leaves: Rake, relax

leaves There is no need to hurt your back or strain your pocketbook. Rake the leaves from your lawn onto your garden. They can be up to 12 inches/25 cm thick when dry and not do any damage.

In fact many of your perennials will be warm and cozy under this blanket until spring. Mark the location of your perennials though as you will want to pull the leaves back from the crown of each plant come spring to allow it to emerge from the soil.

By late spring the leaves that have matted down under the weight and moisture of the melted snow will disappear as earthworms - the foot soldiers of the garden - come to the surface, pull them down and consume them. They convert leaves into nitrogen rich earth worm castings. True story. Go figure. No need to bag, lug, carry or bend out of shape disposing of them. And you will buy less triple mix or Mark's Choice flower and vegetable soil at Home Hardware next spring. Save money.


 Bulbs, Tropicals and Pruning

prune cedars Bulbs.
All bulbs can be planted now, for a great spring show of colour. Later in October your narcissus and daffodils should have been planted but tulips and hyacinths are fine with a late season planting. My Dad was known, in his day, to plant tulips the day before Christmas and they came up in spring nicely.

Tropical plants indoors.
You mean that you haven't brought your tropical plants indoors yet? Well, neither have I. Too busy, that is my excuse. Time to get to it though, if you want to enjoy reasonable performance in your home over the next few months. Wash them down with Green Earth insecticidal soap before you bring them indoors just to be sure that you are not importing any bug problems from outdoors to in.

This is a great time of year to prune cedars [including cedar hedges], junipers and the like. For details go to my 2 part series that I wrote for the Toronto Star recently (part 1 and part 2).

It is too early to winterize your roses, wrap evergreens to protect from winter sun, wind and salt spray, protect fruit trees from rodent damage, etc. I will cover all of these tasks in detail in my next newsletter, which you will receive about October 26th.


 Canada AM

Canada AM In the mean time, light that first fire, curl up and enjoy a good gardening book and the quiet of not having NHL hockey games to watch. Better still, pour yourself a hot cup of coffee in the morning and watch Canada AM. We are celebrating our 40th anniversary!

Jeff and I have planted a tree to commemorate the occasion on the CTV grounds in Agincourt, Ontario. Pleased to do it, with a personal note: the same property was originally landscaped by my father in 1962. Pure coincidence.

Watch the video 

 Newspaper Column

Ottawa Citizen A reminder that I now write a bi weekly column for the Ottawa Citizen [thanks for your feedback!] and the Hants Journal in Nova Scotia, weekly columns in Brant News in Brantford Ontario, The Capital in Three Hills Alberta, The Lloydminster Source in Alberta, Napanee Beaver in Napanee Ontario and The Enterprise in Iroquois Falls Ontario.

We will continue to build on the syndication of my gardening column in an effort to reach you more often with accurate information and [hopefully] inspiration for a great looking garden. If you would like to see my column in your local paper, please let me know and we will follow up. Contact info is helpful: editor's name and/or e mail. That kind of thing.


 Home Hardware

Home Hardware Be sure to drop by your local Home Hardware location for all of your autumn gardening supplies. Look for Golfgreen Fall Lawn fertilizer, Mark's Choice exclusive burlap tree wrap, burlap compost bags, the World's Best Rake [the last one that you will ever buy], Green Earth compost accelerator and more. Not to mention 'expert advice'!

As always, I value your time and thank you for opening this monthly newsletter. Please pass it around [see 'forward' link below] and encourage your gardening friends to sign up. I would be delighted to see their name added to my list.

Have a great harvest and enjoy that 'blue moon' September 29th.

Keep your knees dirty,



 Mark's Choice Product of the Month
 Bulb Collections

Bulb collections As I travel across Canada with Home Hardware, I have noticed a growing trend among gardeners - en masse planting of bold coloured plants.

When it comes to winter-hardy Holland Bulbs, the Mark's Choice product development team has come up with knock-out collections of spring flowering bulbs.

The varieties offered in each box have been carefully selected to provide the greatest possible show. Every variety includes "top sized" bulbs for the greatest colour and largest plants in their category.

40-pack Naturalizing Daffodil and Crocus collection.
Based on the 12,000 naturalized bulbs that I have in my own garden. (item# 5029-175)

50-pack Deer and Squirrel Resistant bulb collection.
In response to one of the most asked questions on my web site. (item# 5029-174)

28-pack Tulip bulb collection.
To make your selection of the best tulips easy [and they are the most popular spring flowering bulb!] (item# 5029-172)


 Where is Mark this Month

Markham Home Show October 19 - Markham Fall Home Show

I speak at 3:00pm on Friday, October 19.


 Wedding Photos

Wedding photos Thank you for your kind wishes for my daughter's wedding. It was a beautiful day full of memories. I have posted a few photos of the gardens on my Facebook page.

View the album 

 Carrot Photo Contest

carrots Last month we invited you to submit your 'interesting' carrot photos. We selected our 3 favourites and the winners received a signed copy of my gardening book, Canadian Lawn & Garden Secrets.

Congratulations to our winners:
Pauline Tarigan
Dina De Stefano
Melinda Casey


 Facebook Contest
 Daily Prizes

facebook My Facebook contest for September was such a hit; I've decided to extend the contest for the month of October.

Every day in the month of October I will select a winner from my Facebook page to receive a signed copy of my book, Canadian Lawn & Garden Secrets.

'Like' my Facebook page for your chance to win.

September Winners:
Karen Bruce Clark
Diane Voelkner
Kay Hosein
Cheryl Brady
Bette Roberts
Louise Fiel
Gisele Lalonde Vaillancourt
Charlotte VanGenechten
Alison Scarrow
Jackson Hemauer
Andrew Tylor Abbott
Lori Carifelle
Derek Belbin
Edna Lepage
Julie Chapman
Theresa Courchesne
Christine Chappell
Barbara Schuster
Gen Melvin
Helen Healey
Bette Roberts
Ruby dee-Flor
Peggy Dumelie
Margaret Scarfe
Bonnie Kemp
Charlotte Patriquin
Bartele Spoelstra
Carol Wilson Scott

If your name is on this list, please email your mailing address to [email protected] and we will ship your signed copy of my gardening book ASAP.


 The Old Farmer's Almanac
 Canadian Edition

Old Farmer's Almanac In the January edition of my E-newsletter I asked you to submit your 'amusing' garden stories. I was overwhelmed by the great response.

I selected 5 stories to include in my submission to The Old Farmer's Almanac, Canadian Edition, 2013. All 5 winners received a copy of The Old Farmer's Almanac and a signed copy of my gardening book, The Canadian Garden Primer.

Congratulations to the winners:
Dina De Stefano
Karen Ness
Paul McCann
Angela Campbell
Christine & Mike Dembenski
Pat McDonagh

Buy a copy today at Home Hardware.


 Harvesting Tips

Harvest tips I hear from many gardeners who are not sure when to harvest their home-grown vegetables. A few simple tips will help take the guess work out of harvest time.

Beets. Take eight weeks to produce golf ball size roots. Wait another 4 weeks for tennis ball size roots. Harvest June through October.

Carrots. Allow 12 weeks for large roots to develop. Lift as needed August through December (until the ground freezes hard).

Tomatoes. Allow fruit to ripen on the plant for the best taste. Green tomatoes can be harvested at the end of the season. Ripen on the kitchen counter (place a banana near the green tomatoes to speed ripening).

Pumpkins. A darker colour and tough skin will develop as they ripen on the plant. This allows the pumpkin to be stored longer. Harvest before the first hard frost.

For more tips, check out my blog.


 High School gets a Green For Life facelift

Green For Life The Landscape Ontario Waterloo Chapter is helping a local high school go big and go green, with The School Greening Project, a program implemented for the new school year that aims to educate students on the importance of green spaces, and the positive environmental impact a few changes can make.

The Waterloo Chapter School Greening Project features incorporate the 'Green For Life' philosophy that is fundamental to the members of Landscape Ontario:
* Increased biodiversity through the use of native plantings where possible
* A rain water harvesting system that makes the site self-sustaining for water use
* Permeable paving and gravel paths to enhance infiltration of water into the water table and to reduce run-off.
* Use of recycled materials (e.g. aggregate)
* Access to key parts of the site for those with mobility challenges.

Over 40 companies have contributed to date for a project that is valued in excess of $60,000. The school community will complete the plantings and site furnishings and is committing to a long term maintenance program in consultation with chapter members - a true team effort.

For more information 

 Submit Your Local Event Listings

Event calendar Do you have a 'gardening' event you would like to promote? I would be happy to include your event listing in my monthly E-newsletter.

Deadline for submitting event info is the 15th of the month prior to newsletter publication.

Send your event info to [email protected] with the subject line 'Newsletter Event listing'. Along with a brief description of the event, please include a web address for further info.


 Kaban Montessori School

Kaban Montessori For ten years Kaban Montessori School in Mississauga has instilled in their students a sense of environmental responsibility and a love of gardening.

This month they are celebrating their tenth anniversary. School Principals have implemented many changes and improvements over the years but they have never wavered from their strong environmental and gardening program for their students.

Read the full story 

 Seed Exchange at the Toronto Botanical Garden

TBG The Toronto Botanical Garden Seed Exchange is in full swing. If you have seed you wish to donate, please follow these steps to package and submit them to the TBG 2013 SEEDEX.

* The TBG website has a video on how to collect and clean seeds (but don't worry they will clean the seeds for you).
They can be dropped off any time in October at Reception, addressed to Head Gardener, Horticulture.

Over the Winter the TBG volunteer team will clean, sort and repackage your donated seeds. In February watch the TBG website and Garden e-news for information on how you can order from the 2013 SEEDEX list.

More information 

 Get Ready to Sip, Slurp and Savour
 At Soupalicious

Soupalicious Date: Sunday, September 30, 2012

Time: noon - 5pm (arriving no later than 2pm is recommended)

Location: Artscape Wychwood Barns. 601 Christie Street, Toronto

Ticket prices: Individual $15 + HST at the door. Family pass $30 + HST at the door

For more information 

 TBG Organic Farmers Market

Market Date: October 4, 2012

Location: 777 Lawrence Avenue East, Toronto

For more information 

 Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon

Scotiabank On October 14, 2012, Joel will be participating in the Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront 5k Walk while raising funds for Autism Dog Services.

Please support Team Joel by sponsoring him. Joel is very excited about participating in this event with his friends and family.

For more information 

 Bobcaygeon and District Horticultural Society
 Photography Competition and Meeting

Bobcaygeon Date: Thursday, October 18, 2012

Time: 5:30pm to 6:30pm

Location: Knox Presbyterian Church Hall, Bobcaygeon, ON

Come out and strut your photographs in our photographic competition. You can enter one photo in each of seven categories.
Rules for Entries:
1. Colour photos are to be no larger than 4" by 6"
2. You must be the taker of the pictures you submit
3. You may enter only one picture in each of the 7 categories.

Entries must be brought to our location listed above between 5:30pm and 6:30pm on Thursday, October 18.

Convenor to contact: Elizabeth Williamson 705-738-4689


 North American Native Plant Society
 Annual General Meeting

NANPS Date: October 20, 2012

Location: Markham Council Chamber, Markham Civic Centre

Time: 11:45am - 4:00pm

Plant sale, refreshments, President's address, new board members announced, the latest excursions, restoration activities, garden awards, volunteer awards, meet & mingle.

For more information 

 Lethbridge Horticultural Meeting

Event calendar Date: October 22, 2012

Location: Lethbridge, Alberta

Tyson Leavitt of Aztec Masonry & Landscaping will provide hints on landscaping design

7:00pm start.
All Welcome
Contact: [email protected]


 Peterborough Horticultural Society

Peterborough Date: October 24, 2012

Location: Peterborough Public Library, 345 Aylmore St. N

Guest speaker Paul Zammit will talk about "The Soul of the Garden"
Doors open at 7pm, meeting start 7:30pm. New gardeners welcome!
Contact: Pauline paulin[email protected]


 Flora Niagara 2017 receives sanction from AIPH
 Article Subtitle

Flora Niagara Niagara's bid to host a world garden event in 2017 was approved on September 11th by the International Association of Horticultural Producers (AIPH).
Running 150 days celebrating Canada's 150th birthday, this blockbuster event is expected to attract close to 3 million visitors in 2017.

For more information