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.

Home for the Harvest

“Seeds men reckon that their stock in trade is not seeds at all – it’s optimism”
~ Geoff Hamilton

Autumn breezes. Autumn frost.

A few ‘blogs’ ago I talked about all of the wonderful, redeeming features of the ‘harvest’ month in the Canadian garden.

You must think I am nuts.

Soon it will be Thanksgiving weekend and the kids are home from University and we are going to enjoy the finest turkey since, well, since last Thanksgiving.

Giving thanks for the bounty of our great land is reason enough to talk about the harvest. Let’s start with the frost tender stuff:

Eggplant and the like.

If you are lucky enough to have some ripened ‘fruit’ in your veggie garden, you would be well advised to go pick it. Now. Don’t even finish this blog. If you don’t pick it and use it right away the birds will. Or it will rot.

Pick the unripe fruits too.
Immature peppers? They are just as good as the big ones, only smaller. Better still, ‘can’ them or ‘put them up’ in mason jars

Small cucumbers? Pickle them.
Egg plants? Mix with your ripe tomatoes for fabulous pesto sauce. BBQ them.

As for the frost ‘hardy’ stuff, no panic.

But truth is your winter squash, cabbage, broccoli, brussel sprouts, carrots etc. have reached their peek. There is little advantage to putting off the harvest now.

What to do with:

Carrots: as winter draws close dig all of the keepers and ‘replant’ in bushel baskets 2/3 full of clean, sharp sand (not beach sand) put in your garage until hard freezeup, using them as you please. Before they freeze hard in the damp sand, place them in the coolest part of your basement.

Potatoes: Cool storage (14 – 18 degrees C) dark and dry. The cold cellar seldom works as it is too damp.

Cabbage and Kale: cool as you can get it: without freezing. Your garage or shed works until hard frost occurs, when you will move them into the cellar. Keep your eye on them for signs of rot… roll them over every week to keep the bottom side from rotting.

Onions. Braid them if you can. Place in a cool, dark and dry place. Hanging them works best of all.

Leeks. Actually improve in flavour with late frost. Dig soon though, to avoid rotting. Either make potato/leek soup for the freezer or just puree the leeks for later use with potatoes. Store in the freezer.

There is a theme here – ‘cellar’ or ‘basement’. This is your autumn work out. As you go up and down those steps be sure to give thanks. We live in the greatest country on earth. If there is any doubt, imagine life without a harvest.

Eat well. Stay well.

And keep your knees dirty.