November is the month for reflection.

When it was decided that November 11 was a day to pause and remember those Canadians who served at war and currently serve our country in the military, our focus was fixed, perhaps forever.

Recently, we have added a long list of other Canadians who have helped us through a difficult time: COVID. Who are these people, who lifted us up through their personal commitment and service?
We think of health workers, first responders, our military (remember how the Canadian military was called upon in the early days of COVID?), teachers, long term care workers and the list goes on.
The list of health care workers in Canada contains more than 2 million names. Each name, a person. A personality. A unique life.

You might be wondering what this has to do with gardening and the happy things we associate with November, like leaf raking and preparing plants for the winter ahead. Here it is: trees.
We, as in Ben and Mark, have been working hard, on a volunteer basis, on a project that helps us acknowledge the debt that Canadians owe to the people who have helped us muddle through COVID for the last two and a half years.  And we want to share this story with you.
Trees For Life, Trees For Heroes is a new organization that is dedicated to planting a tree for each of our new heroes. This not-for-profit organization is only planting native trees, in the urban environment, where Canadians live, work and play. The idea is to bring the many benefits of trees to the people. 

Environmentally, trees cool the atmosphere, sequester carbon, and produce oxygen. They are nature's breathing machines. Nothing created by the hand of human kind comes close.

Socially, trees bring us together. They create places for us to walk, sit and throw down a picnic blanket.

Economically, they are a magnet for human activity. Imagine a city that you like to visit. Now, imagine the same city without trees. See what we mean?  Our parks, yards, streets, and green spaces need trees. 

Our urban tree canopy has been in decline since the 60’s. We think it is time to reverse this trend. After all, as “they” say, the best time to plant a tree was yesterday, the second-best time is today.  
What do you think? How important are trees to you? Do you agree that the time is right to plant trees that provide a permanent, living acknowledgement to those we want to thank and remember? 

Remember. In Canada, we have lost over 45,000 people to COVID. Many others have suffered through “long COVID”. Should we plant a tree for each of them?
We think that the time is right.

We think that Canadians are ready to say “yes” to trees.

With each donation made to Trees For Life this year, another dollar is matched through the 2 Billion Tree program at Natural Resources Canada. 

Trees For Life is a registered charity, so your donation is tax deductible.
and $150 buys you a tree, a certificate that acknowledges a person by name, that you wish to thank and remember. 

November is remembrance month. We say, “let’s plant a tree” to reflect and remember.

Hoping you will join us. Details at

Mark and Ben Cullen
Merchants of Beauty and Organic Beans
  • Apply Wilt-pruf to broadleaved evergreens like rhododendrons, boxwood, holly and the like to prevent winter desiccation (apply when temperatures are above freezing).

  • Wrap fruit trees. Wrap the trunk of fruit trees with a plastic spiral guard to prevent rodent damage in winter. Mice and rabbits can wreak havoc on young, tender bark.

  • Plant garlic cloves about 4 cm deep and 10 cm apart. Use loose, open, sandy soil as they like water to drain away from them. Your garlic crop will be ready to harvest next August.

  • Wrap evergreens with two layers of burlap. One layer to protect against the burning sun as it reflects off snow and another to protect evergreens from wind. This is especially true for cedars, junipers and like, that are on the east side of a road, where they catch the prevailing west wind with salt spray.

  • After the first serious frost, dig up your dahlias and lay the 'bulbs' (tubers) in the sun to dry for a day or two. Store in a large, craft paper leaf bag with dry peat moss or shredded newspaper in a cool but DRY place.  Plan to plant them up in March for a repeat performance next season.

  • Do not cut back fall flowering ornamental grasses, coneflower, rudebeckia and all of the autumn flowering plants that produce a seed head. The birds will forage the seeds well past the first snow fall.

  • Rake leaves onto your garden. Off your lawn, on to your garden. Or into your compost pile. Either way, they will rot down over the winter and provide needed nourishment to all plants that grow. Do not put them to the curb.

Ben's sister, Mark's daughter, Heather has curated a wonderful collection of Canadian, hand made gift ideas. We are very proud of her accomplishments and her enormous talent.
If you want to see, touch and experience some of her product first hand, we recommend that you visit her first-ever pop-up shops in Markham and Guelph, Ontario.  Note that she would love to meet you at two upcoming public markets.
Shop Food and Shelter Goods in person this season:

Find us in Guelph at Sage Homes Pop-Up in Stone Road Mall and in Markham at RF Artisan Market on Main St.

We would love to meet you at one of our holiday markets; Guelph’s Mkt Mkt on Nov. 26th, and in Durham’s Christkindl Market Dec. 9 and 10th.
Cullen’s Foods has enjoyed a very successful year for the Ontario crop of kidney, navy, and black beans with just the right amount of rain at just the right time across the province – for the most part. Unlike the drought of last year, a wet spring in Western Canada will result in a slightly lower chickpea yield in Saskatchewan but the remaining crop is looking good.

On the canning end, we are experimenting with different cooking processes to make our 2023 production our best ever. Stay tuned. 
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 October.
Join us for a new season of Project FeederWatch
By: Jody Allair
*Excerpt from the latest issue of the Birds Canada enewsletter

Helping birds has never been easier. Project FeederWatch, coordinated by Birds Canada and the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, is a welcoming activity for both new-to-birding and experienced birders. You don’t even need a feeder to take part! You’re invited to sign up now and begin counting birds in your neighbourhood for the 36th season of Project FeederWatch. 

Last fall and winter, more than 25,000 people across North America watched the birds in their neighbourhoods and turned their observations into scientific discoveries. Black-capped Chickadees topped the list for the most commonly-seen bird across Canada. The Downy Woodpecker and Dark-eyed Junco completed the top three. 
Hairy Woodpecker
Photo credit: Jody Allair
By taking part in Project FeederWatch, volunteers like you make it possible to track long-term trends in our winter birds. Resources to help you identify the bird species – such as posters, webinars, an app, and online support – are provided. Your observations are used in scientific research, and to increase our understanding of how wildlife is faring and actions needed to protect it. 

Get ready for FeederWatch with our free webinar!
November 15 at 7:30 pm Eastern Time

You’re invited to a free webinar to help make FeederWatching easier and more fun! Join our experts as we brush up on bird ID and practice counting birds no matter how large the flock. Plus, we’ll look at ways to feed birds safely, and explore a new tool for viewing FeederWatch results from your area.

This webinar is for everyone – whether you are a new bird watcher, new participant, or have been participating for years, you’ll leave confident and ready to be part in Project FeederWatch! Remember: You don’t need a feeder to participate and you decide how much time to spend. Learn more and register.

Happy FeederWatching!

Jody Allair
Director, Community Engagement
Connect with me on Twitter at: @JodyAllair
Sweet Potato Cake with Smoky Maple Frosting

What to do with all of those sweet potatoes? Whip up this Sweet Potato Cake with Smoky Maple Frosting. Not overly sweet on its own but moist and rich tasting, this easy-to-make cake is a beautiful and unusual dessert — or even breakfast. Find this Harrowsmith Magazine recipe at
Don’t miss an issue of Harrowsmith’s gardening, cooking, sustainable living and DIY tips. Harrowsmith’s winter issue is on its way to newsstands now. It features easy-to-make cozy recipes, your farmhouse kitchen reno guide, DIY winter décor, how to optimize your circadian rhythm this winter, our sustainable gift guide, essential winter gardening advice — including how to attract beautiful birds naturally — from Mark and Ben Cullen & so much more!

Subscribe now at