Mark Cullen's FREE monthly newsletter.
Weeding Made Easy

I believe that there are two types of people in this world: the ones who love to garden and the others, who prefer to sit on a bench and look at a garden. 
Fortunately, I have great news for both kinds of people. 
Passionate gardeners are an interesting study.  While they love the experience of gardening they don't love every aspect of it equally.  Most gardeners enjoy growing plants. Watching them flower and bear fruit.  Satisfaction comes from a good day's work, of making a contribution to a natural process that, without the human-hand would be out of control.  Weeds have a tendency to spoil our work. 
But pulling weeds is not our favourite work, most days. 
Much effort and creative energy has gone into making the task of weed-control easier.  I think of this every time I reach for a hoe and a file to sharpen it. 
Recently I have worked with a team of professionals with the same goal in mind: to minimize the effort of weeding. 
We wanted to reduce, as dramatically as possible, the stress on your back.
We aimed to increase the efficiency of the weeding exercise so that you would have more time to do the things that you really enjoy doing in the garden.
And we wanted the tool to be multi-functional.  So you don't have to invest in multiple tools to get several jobs done and you don't have to trudge to the shed or garage too often.  
We came up with the Backhoe. Here it is and I am very proud of it.

You will hear a lot about the Backhoe this spring.  Home Hardware has made a commitment to feature it in all of its 1,100 stores across the country.  And to tell our story. 
So forgive me if you might hear this again, but here it is straight from the horse's mouth:
The Backhoe is a multi-function weeding tool You can pop large, deeply rooted weeds out of the ground by dropping the sharp, pointy end of the head into the soil behind the weed.  Give it a tug and out pops the weed.
  • You can clear-cut small weeds, before they become established, by turning the Back Hoe on its side and  pulling the handsome, stainless steel head towards you.  Bingo!  Weeds down!
  • You can manoeuvre between vegetable plants as you move down the row without damaging the desirable plants.
  • You can make a furrow with the sharp pointed tip when sowing seeds and small bulbs, like onions.
  • You can comb out moss, chickweed and other shallow rooted weeds with the serrated edge.
And - I love this part - this is the first weeding tool that you will purchase that does not need sharpening when you bring it home.  
It is pre-sharpened to such a fine edge that one friend suggested that he could shave with it. (I think his beard is coarser than mine...)
I am delighted to introduce you to the new Backhoe.  Exclusive to Home Hardware (item# 5036-415), bearing the Mark's Choice brand (that is me). 
Torture Tested
It is true that I only put my name on a Mark's Choice product after I have 'torture tested' it in my 10 acre garden.  In this case, I had several other passionate gardeners torture test it as well.  And the idea of the tool came from several brilliant minds, not just my less than brilliant one.  Credit is spread wide on this one.
Above all, I think that it is great value at $29.97. 
I love the 60 inch ash handle.
I love the stainless steel, welded head - it looks handsome hanging in my garage! (well, I think so and that is all that counts)
I love this tool.
I really hope that you do too.
And if you prefer to look at gardens, this is the perfect tool for you to buy your friends who love to garden.  Something here for everyone.
The New Canadian Garden
The month of March is an exciting one for me, for several reasons: 
  • I am speaking at Canada Blooms (see schedule below).
  • I have several other public appearances.
  • We are launching the aforementioned Backhoe.
  • and I am launching my new book The New Canadian GardenDetails here.  
The launch of a new book can mean a lot of things: being nice to the press so that they say flattering things about my book, giving books away as prizes (look for my contest coming up in April in this newsletter!) and signing books for lucky purchasers.
Well, you are lucky if you show up at Canada Blooms on Friday the 11th, Saturday the 12th, Monday the 14th or Tuesday the 15th.  I am not just selling a bunch of books and signing them, I am giving away a gift-with-purchase to the first 200 buyers.  A solid aluminum Mark's Choice planting meter stick.  It is the coolest thing!  
I use my meter stick to measure out distances between seeds while sowing.
I use the end to make a furrow before sowing.
I use the hard aluminum edge for tearing paper and I use it in my wood working shop for myriad other tasks.  I have had a happy customer tell me that she uses it in her sewing room for her second favourite hobby. 
My Planting Meter Stick is $20 at Home Hardware.  
(Or free when you spend $20 on my new book, The New Canadian Garden, at Canada Blooms.)
As for the book: it is a picture book, an educational approach to the new gardening basics, a reference gardening guide and a glimpse into the future of gardening in Canada.  I am very proud of it. 
Who is it written for? Anyone who loves to garden in Canada (all 21 of my books are written for the Canadian gardener) and anyone who loves great photography of Canadian gardens (and kids!). 
The four sections feature:
Food Gardening
The Community Garden
Gardening for Biodiversity
Kids Gardening
It took 3 years to write (with some assistance from 20-something Marette Sharp) so please tell me that you like it.  
Things To Do in your Garden in March: 
  • Start dahlia bulbs indoors, in one gallon sized pots, filled with Pro-Mix.  Look for the new Mark's Choice Dahlia collection at Home Hardware (#5029-213).
  • Start slow germinating seeds indoors.  
    Veggies: onions, leeks,broccoli, cauliflower, tomato and peppers.  And flowers: petunias, geraniums, and impatiens. Look for my new line of Mark's Choice vegetable seeds at Home Hardware.  Premium quality. 
  • When the snow has melted, cut back the standing perennials in your yard (the ones that I told you last fall to leave alone): monarda, rudbeckia, Shasta daisies and the like.  Most of them break off at the base and are easy to clean up, if you have a strong back.
  • Prune apple trees.  Open up the crown of the tree to allow sun to filter in to the middle and ripen fruit: minimizing insect and disease challenges. Watch the video.
  • I will cut back my ornamental grasses in April but you can do it in March if weather is favourable.  No difference to the grass plants.
  • Empty nesting boxes anticipating the arrival of migratory birds.  My tree swallows will arrive early April.  I have added 12 more nesting boxes to my meadow. Can't wait!!
  • Clean bird bath/feeders,
  • Clean/paint garden furniture anticipating spring's arrival.
  • Enjoy a very special Easter/Passover and bring home some spring flowers to enjoy on the table
With thanks,
Keep your knees dirty,
Merchant of Beauty 
'Show Me What You're Growing' Contest!

Halcyon hosta
This month I would like to see what you are growing.  Have you started seeds?  Potted up some tender bulbs?  Started a windowsill herb garden? 

I have two pairs of tickets for Canada Blooms to give away.  If you cannot make it to Canada Blooms, you may choose to receive 4 packs of Mark's Choice Premium Vegetable Seeds as your prize ($8 value).

To enter my contest, email one photo of 'what's growing' to [email protected].
Please use the subject line 'contest'.

I will post all photos on my facebook page.  

The 2 photos which receive the most 'likes' will be the winners.
Enter today!

Deadline for contest entries is March 4, 2016.  Deadline for voting is March 7, 2016.
5th Annual Amaryllis Photo Contest - Winners

Photo by Bonnie Ashcroft
Congratulations to the winners of the 5th Annual Amaryllis Photo Contest:

Margaret Amoroso
Elizabeth King
Bonnie Ashcroft
Krystyn Vujcic

You can view the winning photos here.

These 5 winners each received a pair of tickets to Canada Blooms
Where is Mark this Month? 

It is a busy month for me... please come out, say hi, mention this newsletter and I will reach into my pocket and give you a packet of Mark's Choice veggie seeds... just for being nice to me!

For the most part, I will be presenting the highlights of my new book (already a Canadian best seller!) The New Canadian Garden.  It will be fun, fast moving and there are always give-aways where I speak.

March 9 - Friends of Brighton Library - Presentation and Book signing
Time: 1:30pm
Tickets: $15
Location: Brighton Community Centre. 75 Elizabeth St, Brighton
Ticket proceeds will benefit the Brighton Public Library.  Books will be available for sale at the event for $19.99
Tickets available at Pare's Home Hardware, Lighthouse Books and the Brighton Public Library.
Canada Blooms
March 11: 11am and 1pm (main stage)  Opening festival with Denis Flanagan at 11 and highlighting my new book The New Canadian Garden at 1pm. 
March 12: 11am (main stage) Opening the festival.. overview, each morning. 
March 14: 11 am (main stage), 1pm (Hortus stage)
March 15: 11am (main stage)
Location: Enercare Centre, Exhibition Place, Toronto
March 17 - Applewood Garden club
Time: 7pm
Location: St Luke's Anglican Church, 1513 Dixie Rd, Mississauga
Tickets: Non-Members $5.00
March 23 - Whitby in Bloom in Partnership with Brooklin Horticultural Society
Time: 7:30pm
Location: United Church, 19 Cassels Road East, Brooklin
In lieu of a fee, non-perishable food items will be collected and donated to local food banks.
Stay in Touch 
Mark's Gardening Connections

Home Hardware
CTV Canada AM

Gardening Events
Event Schedule

My monthly Event Listings are so popular we are running out of room in the newsletter.  Beginning this month, all event listings have moved to
Event lists are organized by Province and accessible through these links:
Do you have a 'gardening' event you would like to promote?  I would be happy to include your event listing on my website.
Send your info to [email protected] with the subject line 'Event Listing'.  Please provide a brief description of the event, along with a website for further information.