E-newsletter from Mark and Ben Cullen
"I think it's never too late to start anything, except maybe becoming a ballerina.'' - Wendy Liebman

For most gardeners reading this, you probably can't remember the last time we saw a spring this late. Our friends over at the Ontario Soil and Crop Improvement Association (OSCIA) reported last week that with only 60% of intended corn crop planted across the province, many farmers will be switching to shorter season varieties.

Adjusting course is a part of their job, and something we can learn from. Now is a good time to revisit your seed stash to dig out shorter season beans and greens to replace your failing tomatoes and peppers. You might want to visit your local garden center to see what's left of the pepper and tomato transplants, but we have a feeling you might not be the only one with that idea.

That said, don't give up on your "hot crops" just yet. We have seen in the last few years, where spring has "dragged on", that the summer and fall to follow were hotter than ever, so this could be part of a longer trend where you make up for lost heat later in the season. Hang in there!

Thankfully, we aren't in this game for profit.

This past weekend was the Mark's Choice Through the Garden Gate (MCTTGG) garden tour of the Beaches neighbourhood in the east end of Toronto. For those who know the Beaches, you won't be surprised to hear that it was one of the most successful tour in years. 
It was a unique collection of gardens, generally more bohemian than a typical tour which reflects the character of the neighbourhood, but absolutely stunning, nonetheless. 

We could all learn a thing or two from these Beaches gardeners about how to grow under one of the densest tree canopies in the city, the mighty oaks protecting visitors from sunny skies, clearly not preventing these homeowners from filling their gardens with colour. 

The success of MCTTGG is important to us because, not only is it the largest tour of its kind in the country, it is also in support of the Toronto Botanical Garden which is well into its capital campaign to expand from 4 acres to 35 acres with last year's permission from Toronto City Council.  

A very special thank you to the Master Gardeners who oversaw each garden, the staff at TBG and Len of Pollocks Home Hardware, near High Park, who brought a selection of Mark's Choice products for the pop-up shop. 

Already looking forward to next year's event - stay tuned for where that will be.

Mark spent some time touring around Nova Scotia in the past week. A successful event at Gow's Home Hardware in Bridgewater on Friday was just the beginning. A brand new, state of the art store that reflects the future of retail. If you live anywhere nearby, check it out.

Saturday, after a quick visit with our friend Jeff Redden, Home Hardware dealer in Windsor Nova Scotia, on to an event at Annapolis Home Hardware where dealer Rob Lawrie hosted a wonderful maritime-themed event for his customers including live fiddle music, local wine (thank you Bella Nova) and an opportunity for Mark to talk to many locals about gardening... his favourite subject with some of his favourite people.

A quick visit with Trish who runs the show at Mark's favourite botanical garden in Canada: Annapolis Royal Historic Gardens. 17 acres of paradise. And an amazing history lesson to boot.

Mark's evening in New Minas speaking to the Nova Scotia Association of Garden Clubs was a highlight of the trip. A memorable evening with amazing people.

Mark learned a lot and enjoyed the warmest possible reception from all delegates to the convention. Thank you so much! And thanks for buying 42 copies of our latest book, Escape to Reality, how the world is changing gardening and gardening is changing the world.


- As we approach the longest day of the year, we can almost hear the plants growing as they play catch-up. There is still plenty of time to direct sow carrots, beets, beans, leaf lettuce, bib lettuce, mesclun mix, radishes for a continuous harvest into the fall.

- If you're finding your grilling still lacks zest, plant up some container herbs for the sunny spot on your patio. Dill, mint and coriander should get their own planters, lest they take over the whole show.

- This year, bordo spray will be more important than ever on your tomatoes and potatoes as the persistent moisture is causing a lot of disease pressure this season. Bordo is a copper-based spray that is organic-approved, but we do recommend that you apply less, more often to avoid run-off and buildup in your soil.  

- If your tomato plants are big enough, don't forget to stake them with a spiral stake to double your harvest. For many of us, that could be another couple of weeks.

- Another important treatment this spring is End-All and Garden Sulphur on the fruit orchard, and again every two weeks until the end of summer. Those sweet apples are attractive to so many pests, and the leaves to disease so this is one area where the "hands-off" approach is not going to get you where you want to go.
- Remember to treat cucumbers and squash with diatomaceous earth (silicone dioxide), to get ahead of the beetles.

- Avoid the temptation to cut back or harvest what's left of your rhubarb, asparagus and spring bulbs. Leaving the "green" on these plants to die back naturally is essential for returning energy into the roots for next year's harvest.  

- Apply 5cm of compost to onions, leeks and garlic which are eating up nutrients right now to fuel their growth. Compost can simply be left on the surface of the soil for earth worms to mobilize, no need to dig it in.

- This is also a great time of year to heap on that mulch . Ben remains loyal to straw, with about 20 cm or so going down on his veggies, and Mark applies 12 cm of finely ground bark mulch. It just so happens that Ben has more farmer friends, and Mark knows more arborists. 


Ben's biggest problem is that everything Mark would want for Father's Day; he puts his name on. See below for a couple Mark's Choice products we can recommend for Dad, and if you have any suggestions of what Ben should get Mark, feel free to find us on social media with your suggestions.

Weeds are starting to get ahead of us and if Dad doesn't already have a Mark's Choice Backhoe, he will thank you for the way that it cuts through tough weeds, rakes debris and creates furrows for seeding those late season crops. 

Now available in small (5036-413), medium (5036-414), and large (5036-415) sizes.

-  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 su n.
The Mark's Choice Adjustable 2 Pattern Watering Wand is one of our newer watering tools that features an adjustable thumb control, extendable want 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 flips back so that, if you were inclined, you could create an outdoor shower onto yourself. Ahhh.

Gardeners are birders, and most of us have enough "stuff" so consumable gifts are always welcome. Mark's Choice Premium Bird Feast (5453-067,-072,-353) really is the best bird seed mix we could find. It's specifically formulated to attract cardinals, chickadees, song sparrows, finches, juncos, mourning doves, and white throated sparrows - enough to keep Dad distracted and entertained, regardless of any NBA outcomes.


More than 300 trees were planted in Intrepid Park (Whitby) on Friday as part of the Highway of Heroes Living Tribute - honouring Canadians who have served their country. 

Attending today's ceremony was Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, MP Jennifer O'Connell, MP Celina Caesar-Chavannes, Mayor Don Mitchell, the Honourable Lawrence MacAulay and other dignitaries.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced $2.9M in support of our campaign.
We would like to take this opportunity to say Thank You for the incredible support of the Highway of Heroes Living Tribute.  T hanks to more than 2500 private Canadian donors- many readers of this newsletter- who have donated over $4 million. We would not have attracted government support without your generosity.  
Now 75 percent towards our goal.

The Honourable Lawrence MacAulay presented Corporal Nick Kerr with the Minister of Veterans Affairs Commendation. Corporal Kerr served in Afghanistan, has made a huge contribution to the Highway of Heroes Living Tribute and works with veterans as they transition out of the military.


We write a weekly column for the New In Homes & Condos section of the Saturday Toronto Star.
In case you missed it, these are the exciting gardening/environment columns we wrote in early June.

Plant roses now and enjoy the scent for years to come.