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.

I am in a good mood these days.
The fruits of my spring labour are finally coming to fruition. With emphasis on the ‘fruit’ part of the fruition.

The tomatoes are awesome. No, really. I don’t know what I am going to do with all of them, if they don’t keel over before I get them all picked I will have enough here for the entire Blue Jays baseball team. Plus a few baseball fans!

I have 200 or so tomato plants: 4 kids, 21 chickens and a wife.

You do the math and you can plainly see that we do not need all of these tomatoes.

Alas, we live in prime tomato growing country (that is why Heinz planted their tomato processing plant in south western Ontario – they grow great tomatoes).
While I don’t live near Leamington, the home to Heinz, I do live within a ½ days’ drive. So I think that Stouffville qualifies for ‘great tomato growing’ territory. Besides, the 20 yards of fallen leaves and 6 yards of finished compost that I churned into the soil this spring must count for something in the fertility department!

Now I must confess that I don’t pick ALL of my tomatoes.
Rudy – my Grenadian friend and right hand culprit gives me a lot of help.

Truth is, I would much rather grow them than pick them.
Can’t tell you why, I just experience more pleasure from the former rather than the latter.

We are picking from our 3rd crop of snap beans now. And pulling some mighty nice carrots too.

If you have not ‘grown your own’ this summer (maybe you just enjoy reading about growing your own?) then I encourage you to look for the locally grown produce in your neighbourhood. Truth is, it doesn’t matter where you live in this great land of ours, you are never too far from some great ‘home grown’ fruits and veggies.

If you look around you will find that a lot of farms will deliver their produce to a market near you: if you live in an urban centre.

In Toronto I am hearing great things about the Brick Works Saturday market. Go to for more info.
And if you live in Ontario you may find copies of ‘Harvest Ontario’ still available at your local Home Hardware. It is a 120 page book that directs you to pick-your-own farms, farmers markets and bed and breakfasts’ across the province. Go to for more info.

For the rest of the country go to for more info.

Remember ‘Plant A Row/Grow a Row’ for the hungry.

It is simple and works like this: you grow more veggies and fruit than you can eat and you take them to your local food bank. They LOVE the fresh, perishable stuff, in spite of what you have been told about ‘non-perishable’ etc. It is good for them- food bank clients, just like it is good for you.

In the ornamental garden, I continue to look for perennials that need cutting back. After they have finished blooming the plants seem to go into hiding. Without the eye attracting colour of the bloom you have to wade into your garden seeking them out.
But there they are – right now the Shasta Daisies are standing there waiting for autumn, bloomless.

If you cut off the finished blossoms and about 25 cm or so of the stem you will be amazed how they often re-bloom later in the season. This is true of gardens located in the north.
In fact, the further north that you go, the more likely that you will experience re-blooming of your perennials. You see, northern gardeners enjoy longer days, longer.
In other words, more daylight hours than their southern neighbours.
Of course this is made up for during the winter when they have shorter days, longer. But that is another story. Let’s just say that they have earned the long growing season!

Keep your knees dirty!