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.

What To Do (and What NOT To Do) in the Garden

~ April 11, 2012

Is there another time of year when we feel such a surge of anticipation? The spring planting season will be here in earnest soon enough and with it a limitless supply of ‘to-do’s for even the most ambitious gardener.

In the meantime, some ‘NOT to do’s:

- Do not remove winterizing protection from evergreens, roses, and rhododendrons until you are certain that hard frost or heavy snow will not occur. Generally this is around the third week of April for southern Ont./Quebec and later as you go north.
- Do not stop feeding the birds. It is a myth that they only need to be fed in the winter.
- Do not turn your soil until it has dried to the point where it crumbles as you fork/spade it over. Otherwise, you will end up with large clumps of dried mud in your garden. And a sore back.
- Do not plant tender plants until the threat of frost has disappeared.

DO, however:

- Plant your little heart out – but plant only winter hardy evergreens, flowering shrubs and trees – while there is still the threat of frost. Perennials that have been ‘hardened off’ out of doors also transplant well in early spring –including the ones that you want to move around your own garden.
- Fertilize your lawn with a lawn food containing a slow release nitrogen ingredient. Better for your lawn –better for the environment. Rake out winter debris and seed thin spots in existing lawn.
- Turn your compost when frost has made it’s exit. This will introduce needed oxygen to get it heated up for late spring application to your garden.

Still restless? Then hose off the road salt from the evergreens nearest the road and the grass along the boulevard with a blast from the end of your garden hose.
Start your tomato and annual flowering plants indoors.
Start your dahlia tubers and canna lillies in one gallon sized pots. Place in a sunny window.
Take a deep breath: the great Canadian Gardening Season is here. You have a 7 to 8 month window to immerse yourself in the joy and to wear yourself out.