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.

Goodbye September, Hello Fall!

Any semblance of ‘summer’ is about to slip between the tines of my manure fork. September is on its way out the garden gate and I still have lots that I want to do in the garden. For one, I have not started to plant any fall ‘Holland’ bulbs. And I am not worried.

There is about 6 weeks in my zone 5 garden to wrap things up before the winter wind blows and I batten down the hatches for 4 months of bad hockey (you guessed it, I am a Leafs fan!). For the next month and a half I have to move quickly to get all the stuff done that I want to do out there in the yard and garden: time to make a list.

For this week:
- Get a start on bulb planting. Daffodils and narcissus like to be planted ‘early’ in the fall season vs. hyacinths and tulips which are simply not very fussy about when you plant them. When my Dad was a garden retailer he would bring home all of the left over tulips the week before Christmas and they reliably put on a great show come spring.

- If you have been feeding the hummingbirds, be sure to bring in and wash out your feeders after the first frost as you do not want to encourage the little hummers to stick around.
- Pick the remaining tomatoes and put them in a cool, well ventilated place. Notice that I did not say put them on the kitchen window sill: though, that would be fine if you want a convenient place to inspect them daily. They will ripen faster up there, to be sure. But be sure to save some for eating later – the later you can enjoy them the more you will enjoy them.
- Peppers, basil, corn and beans need to be harvested before the first frost.
- Brussels sprouts (you can actually eat these?) ‘improve’ with frost as does savory cabbage, leeks and most ‘brassicas’ – i.e. ‘gassy’ vegetables.
- Plant trees, shrubs and evergreens now. Such a great time of year to do it! They put down roots this time of year to support new growth come spring and often you will find good quality stock on sale as retailers like to move their plants now.

- Build a deck, stain the tool shed, etc. Before it gets too cold and wet.
- Mulch perennials and shrubs with bark mulch to protect them over the winter. A 5 or 6 cm layer over the roots will do the trick.
- If you have finished compost in your composter now is a great time of year to clean it out and spread the compost on the surface of the soil of your veggie or flower garden. No need to dig it in as the earth worms will do that for you before you plant next spring.
- Prepare to fill the composter with 4/5 fallen/shredded leaves and 1/5 ‘green’ stuff like the finished tomato plants and petunias and the like. This will get the microbial activity going.

That should do it for the week. Next week we can begin thinking about what to do with the fallen leaves, the cut down perennials (if you are cutting them down at all), the finished annuals, etc. I will explain.

In the mean time enjoy the temperature and the wonderful ‘harvest’ time of year. Visit a local farmers market and buy up lots of produce while it is cheap to store at home.

Until then, keep your knees dirty.