Recently, we have been discussing the meaning of our work. Why is it important to us that we communicate the benefits of the gardening experience to Canadians?  

The answer: oxygen.

All the oxygen that we breath is produced by the green living world around us. 
To leave it at that would be rather one-dimensional. We know that there is infinitely more to gardening than that.

Consider the benefits of gardening that are physical: bending, walking, digging, mowing. It is a long list. All good.

Mental.  When we leave the cell phone indoors and venture out the door to perform garden “work” we are recharging an invisible battery within ourselves that helps us to forget what pained us or kept us up at night. Our shoulders drop, our spirits rise and hope bubbles to the surface in many of our internal conversations, the ones that we have with ourselves while weeding or pruning.
Bird sounds and flower scents divert us from the so-called real world in which we otherwise live.
Social. Gardeners love to talk about their gardens. We ask questions of other gardeners. We are joiners, like hikers and walkers, we knit ourselves into our communities through our casual activity and sometimes through formal activity like horticultural clubs or community gardens.

Economic. Grow a tomato plant. Harvest tomatoes. Every tomato that you pick fresh is a tomato that you won’t buy elsewhere. Mark likes to say that a packet of veggie seeds is the best bet you can make, at about $1.80 or so. Take that to the bank.

Environmental. This one we tend to take for granted, more than the others. But responsible gardeners minimize or eliminate the use of chemicals. We plant trees, shrubs, and hedges, which are the most sophisticated air cleaners known to humankind. In fact, we have not invented a more efficient air cleaner than a tree. If you can’t plant one, we recommend that you protect and nurture the established ones in your yard and neighbourhood.

Gardening provides oxygen in several dimensions, and it is always beneficial. 
Not only to the gardener, but also to the community and our country.
The first weekend of August marks the pinnacle of the gardening season.  More plants are in bloom and looking their best right now, than at any other time of year.
We invite you to reflect on that as you sit and contemplate this time and place. 
And remember that sitting and reflecting in a garden setting is just one more benefit of the investment that you make in this past time.

Mark and Ben Cullen
Merchants of Beauty and Beans.
Continue fertilizing annuals and veggies for the remainder of the season. A 20-20-20 works fine.

Early season perennials can be cut back, such as veronica and roses. They should rebloom in a month or two.

Prop-up your tall-growing perennials with stakes, such as rudbeckias, coneflowers, hydrangea (with their heavy flowering heads), to prevent them from falling over.

Winter-hardy plants get their last fertilizer application before the fall. From here onward they will take care of themselves, stashing sugars into their roots.

If you've been keeping on top of weeding through June and July, you will find August not too bad. Stay on top of it.

Shop for new plants! As long as you water enough, planting in the heat of the summer is fine and by now, many of the garden centers are starting to discount their perennials and shrubs- you might just find a great deal!

Take care of your lawn. Fertilize your lawn with Iron Plus Lawn fertilizer. The results are incredible. Your lawn will be so green it will appear almost blue green.

Thicken your lawn. Mid-August is the best time to sow grass seed. Where thin spots exist, spread lawn soil 4 cm thick and rake smooth. Broadcast quality grass seed at the rate of 1kg per 100 sq. meters. Rake this smooth, step on it with a flat-soled shoes and water until germination.

This week on Green File we are digging into the archives and re-listening to one of our favourite episodes: Doug Tallamy of Nature’s Best Hope.

Ben is currently on vacation where he is enjoying Doug’s latest book, The Nature of Oaks: The Rich Ecology of Our Most Essential Native Trees”

Tune in - on Apple, Spotify and wherever you get your podcasts.
Mark was honoured to join Ann Rohmer for an interview airing Saturday, July 31st@11:30am.

The podcast (available free on www.1059theregion.com) is the most convenient way to hear the program.

Click on PODCASTS at the top of the homepage AND Look for IN CONVERSATION.

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 July.
BIRDS IN FOCUS: Hummingbird Summer
By: Jody Allair
In Canada, mid-to-late summer may seem like the slowest point in the backyard birding calendar. And it’s true for many species – but not hummingbirds. August is actually the busiest time for families of hummingbirds visiting nectar feeders and flower gardens before their big migration to Mexico and the southern US.
Hummingbirds are a topic I’ve discussed in this column before, but in case you missed those articles, here’s a quick refresher.
We have five regularly occurring species of hummingbirds across Canada. From Alberta to the East Coast, you can find the widespread Ruby-throated Hummingbird. From Alberta to British Columbia, you can spot the Rufous Hummingbird and the diminutive Calliope Hummingbird. The final two species are found only in British Columbia – the Anna’s (pictured here) and Black-chinned hummingbirds.
Anna's Hummingbird
Photo credit: Yousif Attia
Feeding hummingbirds is very popular across Canada. And why wouldn’t you want to attract these amazing little fireballs to your backyard? For those who are interested in attracting hummingbirds, or who feed them already, here are a few tips and tricks to consider.
One of the best things you can do is grow plants that have nectar-rich flowers for hummingbirds to feed on. Having a mix of trees and shrubs in your yard will also provide habitat for roosting and nesting.
For those who use traditional hummingbird nectar feeders, it is very important that you follow a few guidelines. First, make sure that you clean your feeder with hot, soapy water every couple of weeks. For heavily soiled feeders, you can use a vinegar solution or a mild bleach solution – just be sure to rinse well. When purchasing a feeder, make sure it has a large opening so that you can clean the inside of the feeder thoroughly. There is no need to purchase packaged nectar solution, and absolutely no need to purchase artificial solutions containing red food colouring. You can make nectar using four parts water to one part sugar. Boil the water, remove from heat, and stir in the sugar until dissolved. After the solution has cooled, fill your feeders and enjoy the birds! 

Good Birding!

Jody Allair
Director, Citizen Science and Community Engagement
Connect with me on Twitter at: @JodyAllair