I have good news: we have rounded the corner.
With February upon us there is a temptation to batten down the hatches even tighter as the wind blows and snow continues to pile deep [or it continues to melt and then return as it is in Southern Ontario].
Trees For Life
Activity with Trees For Life, the urban tree coalition is picking up these days. Last week we completed our first ever Trees For Life Summit where Robert Burton, the Mayor of Oakville, Ontario hosted as the honorary chair for the day.
A fine group of 25 distinguished 'influencers' came together to noodle just how we are going to 'double the urban tree canopy' across Canada. Private foundations, not for profit tree planters, politicians and a hand full of private citizens with a keen interest put their heads together.
The results of the Summit will become public in a short while, along with the launch of a website and a campaign to raise awareness of the benefits of urban trees. Stay tuned. I promise to keep you apprised.
Dad would be proud to see the progress that we are making to date. He planted, after all, a few thousand trees in the City of Toronto, and the surrounding area, in his time. One might be tempted to think that it was all for profit. Ask anyone who is in the gardening business and you will get the same answer to that question: laughter, mostly.
Gardening, like farming, is not something that you choose to do primarily for the money. It is a higher calling that brings societal, economic, environmental, and health/wellness values with it. When we are lucky [and work hard, as my Dad would remind me] the money can be ok. Considered a bonus.
Things To Do This Month
February is a great month to begin warming up your gardening muscles: the ones in your head as much as the physical ones. Here is your To-Do list for February:
- Check your overwintering dahlia tubers to make sure that they are healthy and firm, ready to plant in pots next month. My buddy Merle Carson, who is the Past President of the Greater Moncton Dahlia Club in Moncton, New Brunswick sent me this fabulous parade of photos featuring dahlias like I have never seen them before. Have a look
- Start tuberous begonias. In shallow growing trays lay down about 2 cm of peat moss. 'Screw' the tubers into the peat with a gentle twist, concave side up. Cover the bulbs with peat but just barely. Water and keep in a warm place and put a transparent top on the tray. A sunny window works and so does the top of the refrigerator which radiates heat from the back.
- Make a plan of your vegetable garden or a list of the vegetables that you wish to grow this summer. Take a trip to the garden retailer and peruse the seed racks. Fresh seeds are now in and the selection is at its best. Come spring you will be busy with other things in the garden and there is no way that you are going to take your time with this job. I know that I don't. I place my orders with the seed catalogues too. We are blessed in Canada with a wide range of seed suppliers. Some of my favourites are Veseys , Stokes Seeds, Garden Import, Dominion Seed House, OSC Seeds, and McKenzie Seeds.
- Check out your indoor tropical plants. If roots are growing through the drainage holes in the bottom and if surface roots appear it is time for an upgrade in pot size. This is a great time of year to do this as most tropical plants are still dormant but they will begin to grow in late March through April - just in time to put down new roots in a new pot. Go up one pot size only.
- Tropical plants: check for insects. If you see something flying away as you brush against your Ficus benjamina, apply Green Earth insecticidal soap every 2 or 3 days until you have it under control.
- February is a month of heavy, wet snow. When that occurs be sure to use a corn broom to brush the excess snow off of your cedars, junipers: any plant that bends under the weight of the stuff.
- Enter my amaryllis contest on my Facebook page. We love sharing your stories and photos! And I love giving away Mark's Choice vegetable seeds to the winners.
Mark's Choice Product of the Month
Premium Vegetable Seeds
I personally selected these 12 premium veggie seed varieties for:
- garden fresh flavour
- ease of growing in Canadian conditions
- overall garden performance
Now is the time to get out and look over the seed racks. Buy seeds now while the selection is at its best.
Home Hardware Item Numbers:
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
Where is Mark this Spring?
February 2 - Men's Saturday Morning Breakfast. The Salvation Army Oshawa Temple Corps/Church.
Breakfast begins at 8:30am.
For more info. visit www.oshawa-temple.org.
February 2 - Guelph Organic Conference & Expo.
I will be there at 12:30 to 2:00pm on Saturday. Hope to see you there.
For more info. visit www.guelphorganicconf.ca/
February 6 - Ontario Parks Association, Annual General Meeting
9:00am. I will be the keynote speaker on the subject of the importance of urban trees, Trees for Life, the Urban Tree Coalition.
February 9 - 2nd Annual Long Pond Classic
Join me for a weekend of great fun and celebration of Canada's greatest game. We play hockey on Long Pond, where the original game was played. Grand dinner and auction with me as auctioneer, on the Saturday night. Click on the link for all of the exciting details.
March 1 - Markham Spring Home Show
I speak at 4:00pm on Friday, March 1st. Hope to see you there.
March 2 - I am the key note speaker in Windsor, Nova Scotia at the Urban Tree Conference.
March 15 to 24 - Canada Blooms
Friday, Saturday, Monday and Wednesday at 11 a.m. - Denis Flanagan and I open the largest garden festival in Canada with an overview of the 6 acre event from the main stage.
Friday the 15th at 1:00 p.m. daughter Heather and I use pictures from various garden tours that we have taken together in 2012 to illustrate our points of view about great garden design. Be warned! We do not always agree.
March 30 - St. Catharines Home Show
April 6 - Burlington Home Show
April 7 - Divas by Design, in support of HopeSpring Cancer Support Centre. The event runs 10am to 4pm. I will be speaking at noon.
April 20 - Mississauga Home Show
April 27 - Vermilion Home & Garden Show
May 24 - Mark Cullen Approved Garden Centre Grand Opening at Gravenhurst Home Hardware. Check out their Facebook page for more details.