Mark and Ben Cullen's newsletter
Looking out from the Niagara Escarpment on a trip way up to Manitoulin Island, Ben and his wife Sam spotted dabs of colour in the expanse of forest below. The first flecks of fall.

It has barely been a week since that sighting, and the cooler weather has wasted no time bringing those fall colours into Southern Ontario. Indeed, autumn is upon us.
Before we put away the gardening gear and call a wrap to the gardening season, there are some important things to take care of in the veggie garden.


Compost. By now you should have an ample supply of compost in your backyard compost - so spread it generously over your beds, without turning it in. The earthworms are happy to do the work of bringing that compost-nutrient deep into the soil without disturbing the existing soil structure.   

Plant Garlic! Ben's mother-in-law has already been busy adding this year's garlic crop into canned beans, peppers and pickles, but that doesn't mean we haven't left enough for planting. Make sure to select your best looking cloves as "seed stock" for next year - remember, you'll reap what you sow. For a refresher on how to plant, check out our "How-To" video.

Cover cropping. Where you already have finished crops and bare soil, consider sowing a cover crop. Annual Rye and/or Red Clover will add organic matter to the soil come spring, hold back weed pressure, minimize erosion and in the case of clover, top up your nitrogen levels. A chemical free win-win-win-win. Or, win-win-win-win-win if we include not having to use chemicals.

Worth Tuning in For

A fun MC'ing gig recently came to Ben by way of the Guelph Wellington Master Gardeners: The Guelph Symphony Orchestra's "Sounds of Summer" Garden Performances. 

This ongoing series features members of the Guelph Symphony playing in private garden settings around Guelph. The beautiful visuals and relaxing soundtrack are worth checking out! More being added here.

Our chat with Sean James

This week we are talking to Sean James, Garden Consultant and Designer. 

Sean has worked in horticulture over 30 years promoting sustainability and beauty in his work, with an emphasis on biodiversity and bioretention. He is a graduate of the Niagara Parks School of Horticulture, a Master Gardener and was recently named one of "20 Canadians Making a Difference" in GardenMaking magazine. 

Day to day, Sean teaches Horticulture at Mohawk College and is principal of Sean James Consulting and Design. If you don't know him from any of these places, you might know him from Social Media - @seanjamesdesign where he is very active and passionate about the green professions.
Tune in - now available on Apple Podcasts AND Spotify!
Mark and Ben Cullen
Merchants of Beauty

Marianne's Too-Many-Tomatoes Tomato Sauce Recipe
This is one that Ben learned from his mother-in-law Marianne for using up tomatoes when you have too many. And let's be honest, if you grew tomatoes successfully this year you probably have too many.

This is an oven method which is nice because it's dead-easy, and less mess than standing over a stove.
  • Take your leftover tomatoes and cut them up into a big casserole dish, not too deep so to allow moisture to evaporate
  • Add a few cloves of garlic (to taste) and drizzle with olive oil
  • Roast at 200F for 2-4 hours. Duration varies widely here, depending on what type of tomatoes you're trying to get rid of. Paste tomatoes obviously cook down much more quickly than a beefsteak
  • Remove from the oven when the tomatoes look "deflated" or freed from most of their wateriness
  • Optional - remove skins - or don't. Ben doesn't, because that involves more work and the skins are probably good for you. Right?
  • Dump the works into a food processor or blender with some salt (to taste) and fresh basil (however much you have available). Blend to desired consistency.
The sauce can be frozen or kept in the fridge for up to 5 days. Ben and his wife Sam tend to do smaller batches as the tomatoes ripen (or start to over-ripen) and use immediately.

Smart Scoop Bird Feeder

Mark has 12 bird feeders on his property. This one is always the first to be emptied.
It is an amazing 2 in 1 feeder: a seed scoop and a feeder.

Adjustable port size to accommodate a range of seed types and attract a variety of birds.
Convenient and easy to use.
Drainage holes help prevent water buildup.
Easy to clean.
Exclusive to Home Hardware
Item# 5453-694

Mark and Ben's Gardening Connections 

Toronto Star

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