It’s a bittersweet spring.
For 24 years, many gardeners set their clocks to the Gardening Season Kickoff which was Canada Blooms.
As many readers will recall, Blooms was called off the night before opening in 2020 with the onset of what we are now too familiar with – COVID-19.
Mark's Potting Shed
Feature Garden at Canada Blooms 2020
Access to Nature
Feature Garden at Canada Blooms 2020
By Adam Bienenstock, Bienenstock Natural Playgrounds

Click here to view photos of all Canada Blooms 2020 Feature Gardens and Exhibits.
It is with a heavy heart – but not without a ton of surprise – that there will be no Canada Blooms as we know it for spring 2021.

But spring Marches on.
Canada Blooms will spring again –this year online, and in a new form for 2022. We encourage you to take a virtual look at past events at www.canadablooms.com.
And spring Marches on – with Hope.

Over at Communities in Bloom, gardeners are leaning into Hope. “Hope is Growing”, the Communities in Bloom campaign for 2021, encourages us to plant Hope gardens in yellow – the colour of hope – to share our optimism in an act of gardening.
We will be hosting a webinar with our good friend Paul Brydges this Thursday (March 4) on the theme – make sure to check it out at https://www.facebook.com/events/. Or share your Hope Garden this season with the hashtag #hopeisgrowing and learn more at https://hopeisgrowing.ca/ .  

Take 4 minutes to read our recent article in the Toronto Star about the new Communities in Bloom initiative. And plan on participating.
Have a great spring equinox (March 20th), World Planting day and International Day of Forests on March 21. 

March 20 we experience the vernal or spring equinox. At about 5 a.m. the earth's equator is directly in line with the geometric centre of the sun. Each day that passes after the 20th is a bit longer, here in Canada. The sun a bit stronger (though, not necessarily warmer). 
The equinox is not something that we can change. I like that about it. We tend to botch up a lot of the stuff we can control but this one is out of our hands. 

The following day, March 21, is World Planting Day. On this day we celebrate the act of planting. Think about what that means to you and if you live in the deep freeze of, say, Winnipeg, it might mean that you can plan on planting outdoors someday, just not for a while. 

That same day is International Day of Forests, by UN proclamation 2012. We acknowledge that over 13 million hectares (32 million acres) of forests are lost each year. That is about the size of England. And yes, the trees are lost “at the hand of man”. Nature has nothing much to do with it. 

We look forward to seeing you on Facebook, Instagram and of course you can always email us your comments at groundskeeper@markcullen.com

Have a great start to your spring.
Mark and Ben Cullen
Merchants of beauty (www.markcullen.com)
and beans (www.cullensfoods.com
  • It's time to prune apple trees, thinning out old, thick branches and dead wood to open up the tree for spring.

  • 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 online or curbside from your local retailer. Seeds are selling quickly again this year. We encourage you to shop now to avoid disappointment.

  • 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.

  • Start your dahlia bulbs inside using 1-gallon pots and a quality potting mix, which will give you a jump on their blooming season. Watch for our column in the Toronto Star next weekend, March 6, for more details on starting summer flowering bulbs. 
This week we are talking to Ryan – not related - Cullen of the W. Galen Weston Centre for Food at Durham College.

Ryan is an expert of intensive agriculture and is himself a small-scale farmer.

In case you missed it, February 17 we talked to Gary Wozniak of Recovery Park in Detroit, Michigan.
Gary is a serial-entrepreneur, urban farmer, and Founder of Recovery Park. Recovery Park was formed in 2010 to spearhead community redevelopment based on urban farming, food production and job creation for hard to place workers, specifically those recovering from addiction and re-entering from the prison system.

Tune in - on Apple, Spotify and wherever you get your podcasts.
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.
Clean Those Bird Feeders
By: Jody Allair
One of the questions that I get asked most frequently about bird feeding is “how often should I clean my bird feeder”? In this month’s Birds in Focus column I am addressing that question and more, by including these simple steps from the Birds Canada website.
Setting up a bird feeder and/or bird bath makes life easier for birds and our lives more enjoyable. Birds can become ill, however, from leftover bits of seeds and hulls that have become moldy or from droppings that have accumulated on and around feeders. Fluffed-up feathers, lethargy, abnormal growths, and crusty eyes are all symptoms of avian illnesses such as salmonella, trichomoniasis, avian pox, and eye disease. You can help prevent illnesses at your feeder and stop the spread.
Pine Siskin
Photo credit: Jim McCabe
Follow these simple steps in order to create a safer environment for your birds:
•         Clean feeders and birdbaths. Every two weeks, scrub and soak feeders with 10% chlorine bleach solution (one part bleach to nine parts water). Rinse feeders thoroughly and allow to completely dry before refilling. Only use feeders that are easy to clean.

•         Clean the ground under feeders. Regularly rake and discard bird food and droppings under feeders as they can become moldy or spoiled.

•         Move your feeders around. Regularly change your feeder placement to limit the concentration of droppings and seed wastes.

•         Temporarily remove feeders. Take down your feeders for two weeks if a sick bird appears at your feeder or if an outbreak has been reported close to you.

•         Consider using feeders that do not allow the birds to stand in their food. Droppings are more likely to come into contact with food on open trays and platform feeders.

•         Always discard any seed that has become wet. Harmful molds can grow on wet seeds.
For more information about bird diseases and what to do if you see a sick bird at your feeder, visit www.feederwatch.org/AboutBirdsandFeeding/DiseasedBirds.htm
The Canadian Wildlife Health Cooperative encourages you to contact their CWHC regional centre in your area to report sick or dead birds and wildlife. For more information visit: http://www.cwhc-rcsf.ca/

Good Birding!

Jody Allair
Director, Citizen Science and Community Engagement
Connect with me on Twitter at: @JodyAllair
Feature Recipe - Maple-Orange-Ginger Sticky Ribs
With hints of citrus and Asian flavours, these ribs are sticky, maple-sweet, and lip-tingling spicy. With hints of citrus and Asian flavours, these ribs are sticky, maple-sweet, and lip-tingling spicy.
Start the day before to let the ribs sit in the marinade long enough to really take up the delicious flavours. The recipe makes extra sauce for dipping, but you’ll need to reduce it, so if possible, start the ribs in a pan that can go from oven to stove top. 

Harrowsmith is the only publication of its kind that can honestly dub itself “Made in Canada.” We are 100% Canadiana. In fact, if you open the magazine and inhale really deeply, you can actually smell maple syrup.

Harrowsmith is now published four times a year (also available in digital). Spring 2021 Magazine available on newsstands and by subscription NOW. Subscribe at harrowsmithmag.com.