Mark and Ben Cullen's newsletter
For a long time, a young man incubated a dream.
He started out in agriculture before detouring to the food business and eventually joining his Dad.

But it was his dream, and his alone, to start a food company.
It would start with beans. 
Red, white and black.
Organic beans.
In sustainable, biodegradable packaging.
This young man is my son Ben. And this is his story. Finally, ready to print!

It's finally time to put this thing out there - excited to introduce Cullen's Foods!

Cullen's exists to offer a thoughtful alternative for people who care about what they eat: where it comes from, who grew it, how it was grown and the way it gets to us. 

The goal is to offer foods you recognize and love in a way you haven't seen before: 

- 100% transparency. By entering the lot-code at , find out exactly who grew the food that is in your hand, when it was harvested and where it was packed.  

- Canadian grown. Canadian farmers are world class for the quality of food that they produce, by supporting them we can reduce our environmental footprint and support our rural communities. 

- 100% biodegradable packaging. Over 8 million metric tons of plastic end up oceans every year, and the best way to prevent that is by finding new alternatives. Cullen's packaging offers the convenience of plastic while breaking down in a compost or municipal green bin in under 12 months. 

- Certified Organic. EcoCert Canada certification ensures that these products are grown without the use of chemical fertilizers, synthetic products or GMO seeds (which, it should be said, there are no GMO varieties for the types of foods we are offering at launch). 

- Acting locally, thinking globally. While Cullen's seeks partnership with local growers, an additional partnership with S.H.A.R.E. Agriculture Foundation supports projects in South and Central America which promote sustainable agriculture and education in remote rural communities. The founding commitment is 1% of gross sales with a goal of greater proceeds as we start to grow.  

We are launching with edible beans, a sustainable source of protein and fiber which happen to be endorsed by the latest edition of the Canada Food Guide. Dark red kidney beans, black beans (turtle beans) and navy beans (white beans), with chickpeas and French lentils coming shortly. 

Right now, we're focused on getting the word and product out there - but we have started picking up some distribution, and you can see "where to buy" at

In the meantime, please help get the word out there, or come visit us March 8 to 17th at Canada Blooms.  We will have the full line of products for sale at our booth. 
Please spread the word and follow on social media!!! @cullensfoods Instagram and Twitter, 
Cullen's Foods on Facebook. 

Now you have it: a funny boy grows up with ambition and determination. We are proud of him.
I f you would like to find his beans, look for them at or drop by his booth at Canada Blooms.

The other big news, of course, is Canada Blooms. The largest annual flower and garden festival in the country. Be sure to come out and check out the 17 feature gardens (worth several million dollars), 10 small garden designs, a Children's garden activity centre PLUS an amazing flower show featuring juried flower arrangements and over 600 amateur entries of "home grown" flowers and plants.

We wrote a story in the Toronto Star this past weekend that provides an overview.
And you can check out this preview of the 8 page pull out section that will be featured in the Star this weekend.

For details, we encourage you to go to
Look for Ben and Mark most days on stage.
Come on out for our book signing.

Bring your camera/cell phone, walking shoes and a credit card. There are many opportunities to buy seeds, plants and garden supplies for this year's garden.
See you there,

Mark and Ben Cullen
Merchants of Beauty.


- It's time to prune apple trees, thinning out old, thick branches and dead wood to open up the tree for spring. Read our recent Toronto Star column about this topic.
- If there's still snow where you are, take the opportunity to knock snow and ice off your shrubs, evergreens and trees to prevent broken limbs.
- Buy garden seeds or look in your area to find out about Seedy Saturdays and Seed Exchanges, which are a great way to find heritage varieties and meet local growers. If you're going to buy your seed from a seed company or retailer, it's still early enough to get a broad selection.   Look over the Mark's Choice line up of veggie and wildflower seeds at Home Hardware.
- Before the end of the month, you can begin starting your cooler season crops such as onion, leeks, broccoli, cauliflower and kale which are okay to transplant up to a month before last frost. It helps to protect them with a row cover. Starting seeds in March is a good opportunity to lengthen your growing season.
-  Check out the Mark's Choice mini greenhouse kit.  Great for starting all garden seeds. Low heat emissions and wide spectrum.

- Start your dahlia bulbs inside using 1-gallon pots and a quality potting mix, which will give you a jump on their blooming season. Look for Mark's Choice dahlia collections at Home Hardware (item #5029-213).

Backhoe (mini, mid-size, and full-size)
The Backhoe is a multi-function weeding tool. You can pop large, deeply rooted weeds out of the ground by dropping the sharp, pointy end of the head into the soil behind the weed. Give it a tug and out pops the weed.
This is the first weeding tool that you will purchase that does not need sharpening when you bring it home. It is pre-sharpened.   It features a stainless steel head, serrated back-side for combing chickweed and moss out of the garden and a 59" solid ash handle. We love this tool.

This run-away sensation also has a brother and sister. One is the same long handled tool with a head that is 2/3 the size of the original model. It is great for use in tightly planted gardens and small, urban spaces.

There is also a short-handled 'mini' backhoe. It features the same stainless steel, pre-sharpened 2/3 sized head on a shorter, 16 inch solid ash handle. Perfect for weeding and planting raised beds or while working in a crouch position.
Home Hardware # 5036-415 (original), 5036-414 (medium), 5036-413 (mini)
We will have backhoes on display at Canada Blooms. 
Stop by and try them.


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 February.

When is a gardener not a birder? We can't think of an answer.
Truth is, gardeners love birds, much as sailors love wind.
Now is a good time to consider how you can attract more birds to your yard or balcony. Between us, we have 15 bird feeders around our properties and almost 50 years of birding experience. Here's our crash course on backyard birding:

In 2019, Harrowsmith is going elemental. Their four issues will be dedicated to life's essentials: earth, water, air and fire

The spring edition is well-grounded with a great tutorial on composting, and a tiptoe through the tulips at the Canadian Tulip Festival written by Mark and Ben and so much more.

Pull up a chair to Danielle French's full moon feast at South Pond Farms-she's even sharing her coveted menu so you can recreate your own! Harrowsmith is thrilled to kick off another new feature that will focus on places they love in Canada: Learn why you should put Manitoba on your list this summer (hint: dill pickle vodka).

We (Mark and Ben) are pleased to be the gardening editors of this fine, all Canadian publication!  

Find Harrowsmith on newsstands on March 4 or subscribe here! 

This is our most popular contest each year. In fact, photos started arriving in our Inbox last month. We are thrilled to launch the 8th edition of our Amaryllis Photo Contest.

We invite you to submit a photo of your amaryllis blooms.

Email one photo to We will post all of the photos on Mark's Facebook page.

Winners will be determined by the number of 'likes' a photo receives on my facebook page. Encourage your friends and family to 'vote' for your photo to increase your chance of winning.

You have a choice of prizes this month. If your photo is one of the Top 50, you may choose between a pair of tickets to Canada Blooms ($40 value) OR two packs of Mark's Choice wildflower seeds.

Please let us know which prize you prefer and include your mailing address. We want to make sure tickets arrive in time for Canada Blooms (March 8-17).

Enter today!

Deadline for contest entries is Friday, March 1 ,2019 at 4pm
Deadline for voting is Monday, March 5, 2019 at 9am.
Note: you don't HAVE to grow a Mark's Choice amaryllis to qualify to win. But it might help! Our bulbs are the largest and healthiest that we can buy from The Netherlands. Every year the demand for our bulbs grows. Maybe 'cause they do? Try one to know. Available November and December every year.

Stay in Touch 
Mark and Ben's Gardening Connections  

Toronto Star
Home Hardware

Gardening Events
Event Schedule

My monthly Event Listings are so popular we were running out of room in the newsletter.  All event listings have moved to .
Event lists are organized by Province and accessible through these links:
Do you have a 'gardening' event you would like to promote?  I would be happy to include your event listing on my website.

Send your info to with the subject line 'Event Listing'.  Please provide a brief description of the event, along with a website for further information.