Great moments in your gardening history

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Time to take stock of one great gardening season as we prep our minds for the upcoming one. 

Mark Cullen

The purpose of today’s column is not to gloat or beat yourself up over the results of 2013 but rather to stimulate your thoughts around the garden of tomorrow by reflecting on the one that recently fell asleep under a blanket of snow. You can praise or curse the winter, dear gardener, but the plants and wildlife in your yard will awaken come spring whether you like it or not.

That awakening provides opportunities in abundance. Now is the time to plan for them.

So here is what I propose: take 30 minutes this weekend to reflect on the season that just passed and begin to make a plan for the new season of 2014. 

Garden pitfalls and inspiration:

Sit at your computer and sifting through your digital photographs, taking the time to turn the sideways ones right way up and to make a few notes about what you see. 

Observations now written on paper or logged in your computer: read them over without referring to your photographs and make a new set of notes titled ‘New Garden 2014’.  What are you going to change or do the same in 2014?

Review the questions below and come up with your own answers.

I have provided my answers to the questions below in an effort to stimulate you further.  These answers will provide the basis of my own ‘plan’ for the upcoming gardening season. 

What new projects did you take on in the garden in 2013?

I built a stone bench in the veggie garden, planted a wider variety of heirloom tomatoes, re-mulched all of my pathways and shade trees, moved my espalier apples from a wall to the veggie garden and built vertical trellis supports for them.  I also rebuilt my garden pond and eliminated a pesky algae problem.

What new plants did you try and which ones will you replant or recommend to friends?  Think: veggies, perennials, annuals, containers etc.

Suffice to say ‘lots’.  Fodor for a future column.

Did you get involved in any garden organizations? E.g. horticultural clubs, community or allotment gardens? If so what did you learn? Who did you meet? Will you contact them this winter and invite them out for lunch or a coffee, just to talk about the upcoming season?

I remain active with Canada Blooms, and was awarded honorary life membership in the Master Gardeners of York Region South. I am grateful for all of the relationships that have grown through these experiences. I intend to nurture them as time allows. 

Are you consuming more locally produced veggies and fruit? If so, from what sources?

My own one-acre veggie garden. I give the excess to the local food bank- and they love it.

Will you consider growing more of your own food next year?

Yes, the more the better. But will plan on sowing my carrot seeds earlier. This past year they were wimpy. 

I will continue to add organic rich compost and sharp sand to my soil each spring. In 2013, I added 45 cubic yards of the stuff – results show!


Did you feed birds in your yard?

I have 13 feeders.

Do you own binoculars?


Have you varied your seed offering?

½ my own Mark’s Choice mixed bird food and ½ black oil sunflower seeds, plus shelled peanuts, peanuts on the shell for Blue Jays and Mark’s Choice Nyjer Plus for the golden finches.

If so what seed attracted the most desirable birds?

I vary the food to attract a variety of birds.  It works.

Have you hung out a hummingbird feeder? If so, did you fill, clean and refill it regularly?

I have two and they work but I do not clean them often enough.  I await the invention of the self-cleaning hummingbird feeder.

Happy New Year!


Mark Cullen appears on Canada AM every Wednesday morning at 8:40.  He is spokesperson for Home Hardware Lawn and Garden.  Sign up for his free monthly newsletter at


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