Meet Mark Cullen

Canada's best known gardening personality, Mark Cullen believes that Canadians of all ages need to play more - preferably in the dirt. A best-selling author with over 400,000 books in print, Mark reaches over one million Canadians every week through various media outlets. He is Home Hardware's horticultural spokesperson and regularly contributes to various magazines, gardening shows and newsletters. With a familiar style that people can relate to, he delivers a message that is compelling, fun, informative and inspirational - all based on his organic approach to gardening. In his spare time Mark enjoys driving his Ford Model A - and of course he loves to garden.

Stuff to Do in the Garden...

This month I have travel plans that will take me from BC to Newfoundland. As I travel across the Prairies I will see some wonderful American Elm trees on the streets of cities and towns that are most impressive. As a native Toronto boy, the great Elm is a remote memory as they all succumbed to the Dutch Elm disease in the late 60’s and 70’s.

My hat is off to the guardians of the last great Elms on Canadian streets in prairie towns and cities. There are thousands of fine, caring Canadians who are going out of their way to protect these spectacular trees from the Dutch Elm disease. From Winnipeg to Calgary, there is war being waged against this disease. Reliable sources tell me that we are winning. Go warriors go!!

Now, let’s talk practical gardening stuff for a moment:

a. This is a great time to plant, after all. And stake. I recommend that you acquire some stakes (not STEAKS) and bang them into the ground around your tall growing perennials. Better still, look for the new heavy gage ‘link stakes’ that make supporting peonies, delphiniums and other tall growers easy ….they are Canadian made and last a life time.

b. Your tomatoes need support too….. I am using the new, aluminum twisted ‘spiral’ stakes that do not require the plant to be tied. Get to this job before the tomatoes begin to bloom as you will double your crop as a result (less susceptible to disease and insects: more blossoms and fruit).
c. Be sure to fertilize roses and tomatoes this week: they are heavy feeders. There are some great organic fertilizers for all veggies and flowering plants in the Green Earth line up.

d. June is ‘mulch month’, just in case you didn’t know. Likely you didn’t as no one has been talking about it. That could be because I made it up. We will call this our little secret… the point of course is that by laying down a 5 cm layer of finely ground up cedar or pine bark you will eliminate 95% of your weeds in the first year. And reduce your watering by 50 to 70%. June is the perfect month to do this as most of your planting has been done and the ‘watering’ season is just ahead of us, when the heat and drying winds come.
e. While the ‘planting’ starting pistol was set off in late May we have been planting like fury. If you have not put your annuals, perennials or veggies into the ground yet the good news is that it is not too late for most anything. This week I will put another row of green and yellow snap beans in for late summer harvest. I will sow another patch of carrots and radishes. I will finally sow the thousands of sunflower seeds that I purchased from Veseys seeds in P.E.I.

f. Your flower gardens, including hanging baskets, window boxes and other containers will still produce lots of colour with mid June planting. And the really good news is that the roses, perennials, trees, flowering shrubs and evergreens that you have been meaning to plant still can be. All summer, for that matter. Just make sure that you prepare the soil well and water after planting.

Talk to you next week; meantime keep your knees dirty.

Mark Cullen