Mark and Ben Cullen's newsletter
After a very on-again, off-again spring, the growing season is finally underway.

The plants are in and are starting to fill out. For Ben and Sam, this is after losing much of the first round of transplants to a destructive bunny. Sometimes your best act requires two takes, so they replanted and laid out row covers to protect the plot.

Over at Cullen`s Foods, more than three hundred acres of beans have been planted across Ontario and the growers are sending their first reports of germination. 
The picture below is from Mitchell and Blair Townsend, a father-son team behind Ontario Popping Corn Company in Walsingham, who are working Cullen's beans into the rotation with their organic popcorn.

Even amidst this pandemic, life springs.


As the longest day of the year approaches, these are productive times in the veggie garden. Here are some of the things we recommend:

- Keep sowing carrots, beets, beans, leaf lettuce, bib lettuce, mesclun mix, radishes for a continuous harvest well into the fall.

- Stake & spray your tomatoes with Bordo spray - a safe, copper- based solution to prevent blight. From now until harvest, every two weeks. Staking now will also help increase your harvest as you lose fewer tomatoes to rotting on the ground and improve airflow through the plant. The orchard will also get sprayed with End-All and Garden Sulphur, and again every two weeks until harvest. 

- Wait on your asparagus and rhubarb while they stash energy into their roots for next year's harvest. Do not cut them down! (The leaves of spring flowering bulbs can be cut back now.)

- Harvest your lettuce and kale crops as they become ready and before the lettuce bolts in the summer heat.

- Mulch now that your transplants are more established, this will massively help suppress weeds and minimize watering demands. Ben prefers 20+ cm of straw while Mark uses 12cm of finely ground bark mulch. 

- Feed your onions, leeks and garlic with a 5cm topdressing of compost or earthworm castings. These plants are heavy feeders that benefit from the organic matter! 

- Start hilling potatoes once they hit 8-12 inches. Ben's container-grown potatoes are growing to beat the band, as the dark plastic tubs he is using conduct heat and stimulate growth.

Now on Apple Podcasts!

If you have been following along our newsletter, you would know that last month we launched our first podcast - a very exciting project for both of us. 

You might have caught our last episode with Antonio Valente of Antonio Valente Flowers - for beginner podcasters, we were delighted by the positive feedback.

It helps when you have such an enthusiastic guest.

Today, we are launching Episode 3 where Ben chats with Jody Allair, Director of Citizen Science and Community Engagement at Birds Canada. Jody has banded owls on CBC's Rick Mercer Report, spoken about Canada Jays at Ideacity, is a regular contributor on the American Birding Association podcast and has written numerous articles on birds, birding and connecting with nature.

Tune in - now available on Apple Podcasts!

Mark and Ben Cullen
Merchants of Beauty

We are working hard to help you enjoy your gardening experience during COVID-19. 
We continue to post our 'Mark and Ben from the Garden' videos on our  YouTube channel and on our homepage at .

Toronto Star weekly columns .   We enjoy sharing practical information that is meant to inform, inspire and sometimes entertain. Find a fresh column, every Monday, on our homepage at .

Podcast. Listen to Green File twice per month.  Our 30 minute podcasts can be found 'everywhere you find podcasts'.

If you are still looking for gardening information that you can use, we post daily on Facebook , Instagram and twitter . Also, you will find our work at Harrowsmith, Active Life magazine, and Reno and Decor magazine.

Also, reminder that you can go to our Library at and use our search engine to answer up to 10,000 gardening questions.


Watering the garden is a job that some of us enjoy first thing in the morning with coffee in hand, or after dinner with a beer. As long as you aren't letting that precious resource burn off in the mid-day sun.

The Mark's Choice Adjustable 2 Pattern Watering Wand features an adjustable thumb control, extendable wand for getting up high into hanging baskets and down low under the leaves to get straight to the root zone and avoid moisture-borne disease from settling on the leaves. It also has two different watering patterns on a nozzle which pivots 180 degrees. Watch the video!

Mark and Ben have torture tested this product in their own gardens.  Not only is this a solid, quality product, you will be impressed that it resists leaking and feels very confident in your hand.

Makes a great Father's Day gift!
Home Hardware item# 5043-844


"Garden Days" are on now through June 21.

How are you celebrating?

As the national spokespersons for Garden Days Canada, we are inviting you to post daily messages about your garden experience.  

What is the garden experience to you?
This week, let's acknowledge the tremendous impact that the gardening experience has on each of us. Share pictures of your favourite garden places and tell stories that relate to the healing, inspiration, and daily calming influence that gardens have on you.

For details about Garden Days go to

Use the hashtag #gardendayscanada and/or #gardentime.

You could win a prize!


We are having so much fun recording our podcasts.  The feedback from listeners has been very helpful and inspiring.

For this contest, we would like to hear from you
Are you listening to our  Green File podcasts?
How are you accessing them?  Direct link from our newsletter?  Apple podcasts?  Other?

Let us know what you think
Is there a guest/topic you would like us to cover in future episodes?

Email your comments to

We will randomly select 4 winners from all entries.  

The Grand Prize winner will receiveHome Hardware $50 gift card, signed copy of our book Escape to Reality and 4 packets of Mark's Choice wildflower seeds.

2nd 3rd and 4th place will win a signed copy of our book Escape to Reality and a packet of Mark's Choice wildflower seeds. 

Deadline to enter: June 21, 2020
Winners will be notified on June 22, 2020

Mark and Ben's Gardening Connections  

Toronto Star

Home Hardware