E-newsletter from Mark and Ben Cullen

"There is no such thing as failure in the garden, only composting opportunities"

You know the gardening season is in full swing when you start seeing the first failures. 

We showed up to our plot during the heatwave to realize our cool-growing broccoli and pak choi had panicked and gone to seed, and the row of cut flowers we had thought were germinating well were in fact weeds all along.
Oh well.

I dumped a load of healthy pigweed and seedy broccoli plants at the compost pile and shrugged. Next year we'll use the rotted down remnants to start again.
There's plenty to keep us busy in the veggie garden

For the successes in the garden, now is when they are really roaring. Here are some of the things you should be doing to stay on top of it:

Apply bordo mixture
to prevent early blight in your tomatoes, if you haven't already. We repeat this treatment every two weeks until harvest. 

Also, stake your tomatoes if you haven't yet - it will double your crop and help prevent fungal disease, as it improves airflow.

Sow late season crops such as leaf lettuce, mesclun, radish, broccoli, carrots, onions and peas for successive harvest right into the fall. Hard to think about now, but your Thanksgiving dinner will be better for it.

Garlic scapes are ready to harvest -
don't let them go to waste! If you don't like them, see what they're fetching at your local farmer's market. And sell them if you must! For selling, see "Seed Voyage" below.

Raspberries and cherries are ripening rapidly right now in most parts of Canada (sorry Newfoundland and Labrador... your turn is coming!) You will want to stay ahead of them to prevent rotting on the plant. What a waste that would be! To further prevent waste, preserve what you can - homemade raspberry jam is a favourite. Click here for a recipe.

Apples, pears and other fruits require constant attention - Mark applies End All and Green Earth Garden Sulphur to keep insects and disease at bay. 

These two products are safe chemical alternatives which can be applied together to save time.

Keep knocking those weeds down - the pressure is constant. If you mulched at the beginning of the season, you are seeing those benefits now (70% less watering and 90% less weed pressure). 
If not, we hope you have a Mark's Choice Backhoe to help with the job. 
Exclusive to Home Hardware #5036-415.

Harvest ! Crops like cucumber and zucchini are easy to miss under their big leaves - but many are ripening now, and you don't want to miss them. Kale, Swiss chard, carrots, peas, radishes and others are ripening up fast. Walk your garden daily to see what is becoming available. Ben started his tomato seeds early this year, so he already has some tomatoes nearly ripe. Mark is crying in his beer. Next week, ripe tomatoes!

On Monday, Ben was at The Bookshelf Cinema, the local independent movie theater in Guelph,
 on the recommendation of a Landscape-Architect friend to see Five Seasons: The Gardens of Piet Oudolf
Best known for New York City's Highline , as well as the entry garden walk at our very own Toronto Botanical Garden , Oudolf has a unique style which has changed the way we think about perennial plants in recent years. Worth seeing if you have the chance.

When not in the garden, we've also been getting closer to nature wherever possible. Ben spent the long weekend back-country in Algonquin, and the past weekend paddling the Grand River from Elora. 

Mark recently picked up a trailer to make the remainder of his summer travels a little more comfortable - we are so lucky to live in a country with an abundance of incredible parks and wildlife.

Also, Mark appeared at a fundraising event for the Lucy Maud Montgomery church and manse in the village of Leaskdale, north of Uxbridge Ontario this week. 

The afternoon "tea" and garden chat netted almost $4,000 for the expansion of the period garden at the church, where Montgomery's husband Ewan Macdonald served for almost 15 years.

If you get the chance to drop by, it is a must-see for any tour of Canadian history while in Ontario. The church and manse are in amazing shape, suited up in period furniture to look like Lucy Maud Montgomery was still living there. and the gardens look great. 
Kudos to all of the volunteers in Leaskdale. Great job!

In our weekly Toronto Star column we talked about Container gardening for condo and apartment dwellers, an increasingly common environment for gardeners.

And Tips for low maintenance gardening for those who enjoy the garden best from a Muskoka chair. 


On Thursday, July 19th - Ben will be speaking to the Ajax Garden Club at the Royal Canadian Legion.


Don't forget to sign up for the Communities in Bloom Backyard Contest, deadline August 15th. This is a great opportunity to show off how proud you are of your backyard garden for an opportunity to win a $1,000 Home Hardware gift card.