Tag Archives: Ben Cullen

Mark & Ben Cullen’s Ultimate To-Do List For November

Mark and Ben Fall Picture

Mark and Ben Cullen Garden Tips

Garden Experts Mark and Ben Cullen give us their list of things to do to get your gardens ready for winter.

We have been busy in our gardens getting ready for winter. Invest some time now for a great looking garden come spring.  Here is a list of our recommended activities:

  • Apply Wilt-pruf to broad leaved evergreens like rhododendrons, boxwood, holly and the like to prevent winter desiccation (apply when temperatures are above freezing).
  • Start your amaryllis bulbs now to make sure you are ready for our 2020 amaryllis photo contest. Every year we host an amaryllis photo contest. You will find contest details in our February newsletter. Start your amaryllis now and take photos when the fabulous blooms are at their peak. Subscribe to our newsletter for more info.
  • 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. Watch our video.
  • 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. Watch our video.
  • 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. Watch our video.
  • And look for the 2020 edition of Harrowsmith’s Almanac. Amazingly packed with essential information. www.harrowsmithmag.com Enjoy the last days of fall gardening and be sure to visit us at Canada Blooms, March 13 to 22, 2020. It will be an early spring!∼ Mark and Ben

For more advice and answers to over 10,000 gardening questions, visit www.markcullen.com and sign up for Mark and Ben’s free monthly newsletter.

Garden Like A Pro: Your September Garden

Fall Gardening picture from pxhere.com

Mark and Ben Cullen Garden Tips

Garden Experts Mark and Ben Cullen give us their list of things to do to prepare your September Garden

  1. Dig and divide.
    Perennials that flowered in early to mid summer can be dug up and divided. Replant the divisions around your yard in the appropriate places or give them away if you have run out of space. A short list of candidates: peonies (mid September is the BEST time to divide mature plants), hostas, monarda, daylilies, rudbeckia and veronica. Be sure that the soil is moist when you dig up the mature perennial.
  2. Plant spring flowering bulbs.
    The boat has arrived from The Netherlands and we recommend that you check out the selection at your favourite retailer for the best selection of the season. Fact is, they don’t replenish the ‘hard to find’ varieties of tulips, daffodils, narcissus, hyacinths and the like later in the fall season. Even if you just store your new purchases in your garage for a few weeks, at least you have the varieties and colours that you really want.
  3. Speaking of spring flowering bulbs, check out the Mark’s Choice bulb collections at Home Hardware. The collections include ‘Naturalizing’ bulbs that will grow and improve year over year, a ‘Canadian’ collection that celebrates our great country with names like Vancouver, Calgary, Mountie and Toronto. All great garden performers. There is a ‘Fragrance’ collection and a Deer & Rabbit Resistant collection. All great value for the money.
  4. Compost.
    a. empty
    b. fill.
    Not to oversimplify this, but your garden needs the natural goodness that is contained in your backyard composting unit and your now-empty composting unit will provide a valuable service this autumn when the leaves fall and you yank your spent annuals and veggie plants out of the ground.
  5. Start a new lawn or thicken an established one.
    This is the best time of year to sow fresh grass seed. Germination is sure and quick with the cool evening temperatures, increased rainfall and the reliably heavy morning dew. Spread Mark’s Choice Lawn soil about 2 cm thick before broadcasting Iron Plus Premium grass seed over the area. Rake smooth, step on it to get the seed/soil in firm contact and water well and frequently. Stand back and marvel at how right this advice is and how smart you are.

If you’re looking for a quicker way to thicken your lawn, check out Iron
Plus 4-in-1 Recovery. It contains grass seed, compost, iron and fertilizer.
Spread it over your lawn with a fertilizer spreader and water deeply.  The
compost will swell with the moisture and help the grass seed germinate
quickly.

For more advice and answers to over 10,000 gardening questions, visit www.markcullen.com and sign up for Mark and Ben’s free monthly newsletter.

Photo From pxhere.com

Garden Like A Pro: Pollinator Plants

Bee Pic from Pixabay.com

Mark and Ben Cullen Garden Tips

The decline of the honeybee and monarch butterfly population has our attention. As gardeners, our goal is to plant something that helps to attract and nurture the beneficial insects in our neighbourhood, provides natural beauty and colour AND is low maintenance.

Our solution: planting native plants in our outdoor space. This will provide a source of nourishment for pollinators while enhancing the local environment in measurable ways and creating a beautiful, low maintenance garden.

Inspired?  There are some ‘tricks’ that you need to keep in mind: so called ‘little things’ that will help you to maximize the positive impact of your efforts.  Here are our top tips:

1- Explore your options. And keep in mind that a succession of blooming times will maximize the population of pollinators. If you just plant Purple Cone Flower you will have masses of colour from mid July through late August but little else to show for your efforts over the balance of the season. We choreograph our pollinator gardens with crocus, daffodils and narcissus (late April through early May), Lungwort (pulmonaria), Foamflower, cilantro, oregano, Columbine and sweet woodruff takes over mid May through early June. Come early summer, we feature cardinal flower (a hummingbird magnet!), catmint, coral bells and many hosta varieties in our gardens.

As the season progresses, there are many plants that provide opportunities for foraging butterflies and feeding hummingbirds including Echinacea, rudbeckia, late flowering hostas and one of our favourites is borage. Come September and October, butterflies and bees love sedum spectabile, asters and monarda (bee balm) in our gardens.

Annual flowers that are pollinator magnets right into the fall months include sunflowers, zinnias, sweet alyssum and cosmos.

This is not an exhaustive list, but a starter to help get you thinking in the right direction.
Note that not all of our suggestions are native plants. In our opinion, if a plant is rich in nectar and/or pollen and therefore attracts pollinators it should be considered.

2 – Plant host plants. Monarch butterflies lay eggs exclusively on native milkweed. While it is late to start them from seed, it can certainly be done, and you will succeed in producing a healthy crop for next year if you get started now as milkweed is perennial. Once monarch larvae have hatched and fed on the milkweed, they move on to other food sources in your garden. Milkweed seeds are available on many seed racks at your favourite garden retailer including Home Hardware.

3- Place habitat. Garden retailers now offer a wide selection of habitat for many beneficial insects. Mason bee houses are available in a variety of models including a British import that features paper straws in a 10 cm round nesting ‘box’ that you hang on an east or south facing wall. Mason bees lay their eggs in the straws and you encourage an increase in effective pollinators to your neighbourhood. Look for ‘insect hotels’ and of course nesting boxes for birds, like the tree swallow.

4- Water. This is the single most impactful feature that you can add to your garden if you are interested in attracting pollinators and beneficial wildlife. Your yard can become the watering hole for a host of butterflies, native bees, dragon flies (yes, they are beneficial and they eat a lot of mosquitoes), frogs, toads and you name it. All you must do is make sure that the water is fresh and available to all who pass by. And when they do, watch out because babies will result and that means more ‘beneficials’! Many insects will bathe and drink where shallow water occurs.  For butterflies, fill a container with water and line it with marbles, with water just below the top of the marbles, will help provide access to the water, without the risk of drowning.

Attracting pollinators to your yard or balcony provides benefits to your entire community: 30% of the food that we eat is pollinated by insects and hummingbirds.

Keep in mind that bees are attracted to white, yellow, blue and purple flowers more so than other colours.

For more information go to http://landscapeontario.com/pollinator-friendly-garden.

For more advice and answers to over 10,000 gardening questions, visit www.markcullen.com and sign up for Mark and Ben’s free monthly newsletter.

Our Recipe for a Healthy Lawn

Spring Grass

Mark and Ben Cullen Garden Tips

Step 1. Fertilize. There is a reason why your lawn looks its best early in spring. Our climate suits the needs of quality grass very well. There is lots of moisture in the ground in spring. The soil and evening air is cool. Grass is a ‘cool season’ crop.

Fertilizer enhances the elements that occur naturally at the root zone of your lawn. Fact is, the ingredients in a quality bag of lawn fertilizer are not required to make your lawn green. Mother Nature will do that for you this time of year without any help. However, ‘quality’ is the keyword and a quality product can make a world of difference over the long haul.

Nitrogen (the first number in the analysis) is craved by your lawn more than anything each spring. If the nitrogen in your lawn fertilizer is ‘slow release’ it will green up quickly and stay that way for up to 10 weeks.

Iron provides the fastest possible green up. Look for ‘chelated’ iron as grass plants will absorb it efficiently. Not so with other ‘iron’ products. Also, look for iron that will not stain your driveway or deck. All we use on our lawn is CIL Iron Plus. It guarantees a visibly greener lawn in 72 hours or your money back. We consider it the most sophisticated lawn food on the market. Made in Canada too.

Step 2. Lawn Recovery. Snow mould, dog burn ‘spots’ (yeah female dogs!) or thin patches of grass all need attention. A lawn recovery product is applied through your lawn fertilizer spreader. It contains fertilizer and features pelletized compost and grass seed. After you spread it, the dry compost swells on contact with moisture (either rain or water that you apply) and provides a medium for the grass seed to germinate and grow. The fertilizer sustains the newly germinated grass plants for about 3 weeks, at which time you should apply a slow release lawn fertilizer.

‘Lawn recovery’ is a substitute for bags of lawn soil and grass seed. Mind you, if you would rather spread quality soil over thin patches on your lawn, apply quality grass seed, rake it smooth, step on it or roll it to bring the seed/soil in firm contact, then go for it. This method has worked for generations.

Step 3. Aerate? Not likely. Only aerate your lawn if it is compacted. Heavy foot traffic will squeeze the air out of the soil and prevent the roots of grass plants from breathing. I recommend a small hand-aerator for this job. Only use a core aerator. This will remove small plugs of soil from the compacted lawn.

Step 4. Grass seed? Applying quality grass seed to the thin patches in your lawn can really help to green it up and sustain it through the season but I emphasise ‘quality’. Remember that the pedigree of your lawn is in the bag. Buy the cheap stuff and get a cheap lawn. We use seed with ‘Surestart Xtreme’ as it germinates in 7 days and produces deeper roots than average grass seed.

The key to growing grass seed is to use soil that is weed free and contains lots of organic compost for the seed to root into and to keep it wet long enough to put a root down to sustain itself.
Satisfying long term results occur when you pay attention to lawn health at this time of year.

For more information and to answer over 10,000 gardening questions, visit www.markcullen.com and sign up for Mark and Ben’s free monthly newsletter.

Valentine Gifts That Are Outside of the Box

Valentine's Day

Mark and Ben Cullen Garden Tips

Let’s reflect together for a moment on the very popular tradition of giving long stem cut roses on Valentine’s Day.  We know that this is a crowd pleaser, but then, are you trying to please the crowd or your sweetheart?

Fact: Roses are exotic. They originated elsewhere.  Notwithstanding the native ‘wild rose of Alberta’, roses as we know them in the garden, originated in far reaching lands.  Give your Valentine a journey to another part of the world to see roses as neither of you have seen them before. England is the home of modern day rose breeding.  Go to the famous rose breeding grounds of the David Austen Rose garden near Coventry (www.davidaustenroses.com).  Tour the rose gardens of Hampton Court (www.hamptoncourt.org.uk/).  If the timing works, go to the annual Hampton Court Flower and Garden Show the first week of July.  It is the second largest exhibition of its’ kind in the world (the 1st is the Chelsea Flower Show in London, mid-May).

Keep in mind that you do not actually have to travel all that far to find great rose gardens. There is a fabulous collection of roses on the grounds of Rideau Hall in Ottawa where many of the winter hardy roses developed in Canada are on display for all to see (for free) and the Experimental Farm in Ottawa offers another colourful glimpse into rose breeding programs in Canada.

In Toronto there are some terrific rose gardens including Casa Loma (www.casaloma.org) and the formal gardens of High Park (free admission).

One more suggestion: while thinking of giving the ‘experience’ of long stem cut roses without necessarily giving a dozen of them, consider giving 2 passes to Canada Blooms in Toronto. This is the largest and by far the most impressive annual ‘garden event’ in the country.  There will be roses, to be sure.

The ‘cost’ of two tickets is $20 each but you can get an Early Bird discount online at www.canadablooms.com right now.

Give a couple of tickets to Canada’s premier flower and garden festival, a long stem red rose and maybe a dinner out. What could be a better Valentine’s Day gift?

Dates for Canada Blooms are Friday, March 8 to Sunday March 17.

For more information and to answer over 10,000 gardening questions, visit www.markcullen.com and sign up for Mark and Ben’s free monthly newsletter.

Winterizing Tips

Wrapping Cedars

 

Mark and Ben Cullen Garden Tips

Winterizing Tips

Those of us who love the outdoors and enjoy puttering around the yard are always looking for an excuse to do something in the fresh air. If you thought you were done with this year’s lawn and garden, we have a question: Have you taken care of the following?

  • Wrapped cedars with two layers of burlap. Cedars nearest a road (and on the east side of it, especially where they are susceptible to westerly winds full of salt spray) are most vulnerable.       Wrap them with a layer of burlap to prevent the permanent damage of salt and wrap them again to protect them from the drying effects of the wind, especially if they are exposed to the north or west.
  • Fertilize your lawn. This time of year provides an opportunity to apply the most important application of lawn food. Why? Your lawn will absorb the nutrients of a fall lawn food before it goes to sleep for the winter. Like a bear that forages before bedding down for the winter, your lawn stores nutrients and sugars in its roots right now in anticipation of the long cold winter ahead. Look for a fertilizer formula, like CIL 12-0-18.
  • Protect fruit trees. If we get an average dump of snow this winter, bunnies and mice can do a lot of damage to fruit trees that are less than 6 years old by nibbling away the bark with their rather sharp teeth. With little to fill their tummies in winter, they resort to this sort of thing. “Bark is better than nothing.” they must be thinking. Wrap the trunk of each tree with a plastic spiral that extends about a metre up the trunk. After about 6 years or so, the trunk of most trees has become too tough even for rodents to enjoy. Be sure to wrap crabapples and flowering cherries as rodents don’t know fruiting from non-fruiting trees that flower.
  • Compost. All of your leaves are down and you no doubt have raked them off your lawn and on to your garden. Good.       If you have a compost pile or bin, now is an excellent time to empty the contents onto your garden.       Spread it with a rake and let it sit there over the winter. Come early spring, earthworms will pull the raw compost under the surface of the soil and convert it into nitrogen-rich castings (poop). If you have not built or purchased a compost, now is a good time to do it as there is no shortage of yard ‘waste’ (actually a ‘resource’), grass clippings and fallen leaves to fill it.

Rhododendrons and other wind-sensitive evergreens like taxus (yews) and boxwood, are best protected with one application of Wilt-Pruf. It prevents the drying effects of wind and extraordinarily low humidity during a Canadian winter.  Save what is left in the bottle to apply to your fresh cut Christmas tree.  It works better than ANY preservative.

For more information and to answer over 10,000 gardening questions, visit www.markcullen.com and sign up for Mark and Ben’s free monthly newsletter.

Harvest Time

Fall Harvest Picture

Garden Tips from Mark and Ben Cullen

We are always happy to hear from gardeners who have jumped on the ‘grow your own’ band wagon. Many first-time veggie gardeners are contacting us to find out what to do with their abundance of tomatoes, squash, carrots and the like.

“What now? “  Time was, you would dig it all up and stuff it in a root cellar.  Today of course, we have freezers, refrigerators and some pretty sophisticated methods for preserving fruits and veggies.

What to do with:

Tomatoes:  If you still have lots of red tomatoes the answer is simple.  Eat what you can and preserve the rest as tomato paste, ‘spaghetti’ sauce or just skin them, bag them and freeze them for future use.

If you wish to ripen the green tomatoes indoors and retrieve them from the plants before the frost gets to them, try this: use old oven racks or some other raised platform, place the green tomatoes on newspaper which is spread over the rack. Good air circulation is important.  Place in a cool place.  They will ripen in a dark room more slowly than in a bright one, but either work.  Place them on the rack(s) with a centimeter or two between each.  Turn them every couple of days and inspect for rot or mildew.  Toss the infected ones onto the compost.  We know people that have eaten tomatoes stored this way right into the first week of January.

Peppers: Harvest ripe peppers before they are hit by first frost. Wash in cool water and place in boiling water for 5 minutes.  Remove the peppers from the boiling water and allow them to cool for 1 minute.  Next wrap the peppers in plastic wrap and store in the freezer.  Peppers will last up to 30 days with this storage method.

Winter Squash: Store only fully matured squash. Harvest before the first frost.  Leave 3” of the stem attached.  Keep the squash in a warm, dry and ventilated area for 2 weeks.  Once the squash has cured you can move it into cool storage.  The ideal storage is a cold room around 50-55 degrees.  Store squash on racks so they don’t touch.  Well-cured, fully-ripe squash will keep until late February.

Potatoes: Store potatoes in an unheated basement or garage insulated to protect against freezing. The best location for home storage is cool, dark and ventilated.  Perforated plastic bags can be used to maintain humidity levels while allowing air flow.

Carrots: One option is to leave carrots in the ground and cover them with an unopened bale of straw for the winter. As you need them for cooking, pull the straw back and dig the fresh carrots out of the ground right up until the very hard frost of late December or January.   Alternatively, you can dig up all of your carrots and ‘replant’ them into bushel baskets filled with sharp sand. Keep the carrot tops intact as the root loses much of its nutrients shortly after the top is cut off.  Place the baskets in your garage, preferably against the wall that is attached to your house where the temp is about 5 degrees warmer.  You will be ‘pulling’ fresh carrots all winter long.

Apples: Harvest apples carefully to avoid bruises which will prevent them from keeping well. Late season apples are the best for storing.  Harvest before the first heavy frost.  Store apples in the dark in shallow trays of shredded newsprint.  The temperature should be cool but not frosty.  An unheated basement or garage can be an ideal storage location as long as they are free from rodents.

Keep in mind that some veggies actually improve in flavour with frost. Leeks, kale, Brussels sprouts and cabbage fall into this category.

For more information and to answer over 10,000 gardening questions, visit www.markcullen.com and sign up for Mark and Ben’s free monthly newsletter.

Photo from: www.scholastic.com

Mark’s Choice Named Title Sponsor of Canada Blooms

Mark's Choice Title Sponsor of Canada Blooms

Canadian gardening gurus Mark and Ben Cullen lend their brand to the country’s largest garden and floral festival

They have been involved with Canada Blooms since it was started some 23 years ago; now, they are attaching their brand to the marquee.

Canadian gardening gurus Mark and Ben Cullen have reached a five-year agreement to be the title sponsor for the country’s largest garden and floral festival and will attach their Mark’s Choice brand, available exclusively at Home Hardware, to the Canada Blooms logo and wordmark.

Mark is also a Canada Blooms board member emeritus.

“We are more than just ‘delighted’ to become lead sponsors of Canada’s greatest garden festival,” says Mark. “We are over the moon. Ben shares my passion for the mission of Canada Blooms and the extraordinary contribution that this event makes to horticulture in Canada.”

Through regular appearances on television, radio, online, in print or in person at seminars and shows, Mark and Ben Cullen connect with more than two million Canadians every week. An author of 23 books and the spokesperson for Home Hardware Lawn and Garden, Mark’s personable style and topical information has captivated audiences and continued to garner him fans across Canada.

Mark’s Choice is Mr. Cullen’s personal seal of approval on more than 200 gardening products available exclusively at Home Hardware stores across Canada.

Besides adding the Marks’ Choice name to Canada Blooms, Mr. Cullen and his son Ben will present regularly at the festival, which takes place annually over the March Break. At Canada Blooms, there is more than 200 hours of entertainment and information on the three stages, offering professional insight on gardening, landscaping design and trends.

“There is not a better name in Canadian floriculture and horticulture to associate with Canada Blooms than Mark Cullen’s,” says Terry Caddo, General Manager of Canada Blooms. “He has been an integral part of our festival since Day One, and remains the go-to authority on all things gardening in Canada.”

Co-located with the National Home Show, Canada Blooms takes place March 8th to 17th, 2019, at the Enercare Centre Exhibition Place in Toronto. For more information or for tickets, please visit canadablooms.com. Follow Canada Blooms on Twitter @CanadaBlooms and Like it on Facebook.

About Canada Blooms
Canada Blooms is an annual world-class festival that connects people to the joys and benefits of nature through experiences with gardens and flowers by promoting, educating, inspiring and celebrating all aspects of horticulture. A not-for-profit organization that gives back to the community throughout the year by funding community garden projects around Ontario, Canada Blooms is also dedicated to providing the community with horticulture expertise, education and resources on an ongoing basis.

Now entering its 23rd year, Canada Blooms was founded by Landscape Ontario and The Garden Club of Toronto. Each year it is supported by a committed group of partners, sponsors and volunteers. Canada Blooms has been named One of Ontario’s Top 100 Events by Festivals and Events Ontario and One of North America’s Top 100 Events by the American Bus Association.

About Mark’s Choice
Mark’s Choice Ltd. is a horticultural communications and marketing company, with the brand being attached to dozens of products available at Home Hardware stores across Canada — including gardening tools, soil, seeds, gloves and other equipment useful in the garden. Before a product is approved as Mark’s Choice, it must past rigorous testing, ensuring it is made from high-quality materials, meets the needs of Canadian home gardeners, is tough enough to stand up to commercial use and will help Canadians create great looking lawns and gardens. Possibly Canada’s best-known gardener, Mark’s Choice President Mark Cullen is a third generation career gardener, and a “garden communicator” unlike any other. He is a best-selling author, with more than 20 books on gardening to his credit. Mr. Cullen actively maintains his website markcullen.com, where he has answered more than 10,000 questions from gardeners across the country.

 

Fall Lawn Care Tips

Autumn Lawn Care

Garden Tips from Mark and Ben Cullen

Fall is the best time to start a new lawn from seed or to lay sod.  It is the best time to over-seed established lawns to fill in bare patches and thicken your grass.  In most parts of Canada, the best ‘grass seed sowing’ occurs from mid-August through late September.  The evening temperatures are lower and the morning dew is heavier.  As night time temperatures moderate, they are optimum for seed germination.

Preparation is the key to success.  Rake the area lightly to remove debris.  Add a 1cm to 2 cm layer of Mark’s Choice lawn soil to level out low patches in the lawn and choose the best quality seed for the best result.  The grass seed you use is the future pedigree of your lawn.  Rake the seed to smooth it and integrate it into the layer of triple mix.  Step on the area with flat-soled shoes to get the seed and soil in firm contact or, for large areas, roll with a lawn roller that is 1/3 full of water.  Fertilize with lawn starter to encourage rapid root growth.  This will help new grass get established more quickly.  Water the seeded areas and keep the soil damp until the grass is at least 3 cm high.

A thick healthy lawn is your best defense against weeds.  Feed the lawn with CIL Iron Plus for a deep green colour and healthy growth.

You can cut a lot of corners by using the new CIL Iron Plus 4 in 1.  It contains a top quality grass seed, premium grade chelated iron, a charge of nitrogen and pelletized compost, to provide a medium for the new grass seed to germinate into.

This is the best time of year to apply CIL Iron Plus.

We are frequently asked how to control lawn weeds in the absence of chemical weed killers.  The answer is simple – over seed your lawn to thicken it and compete weeds out of existence.  AND be sure to raise your lawn mower up to 2 ½ or 3 inches (7 to 9 cm).

Note that a new broadleaf weed killer was introduced last spring that is environmentally responsible.  Look for Weed Out ready to use in pump spray bottle for spot weeding or the new concentrate by the same name.

The principle compound found in this product is derived from the broad bean and the common pea plant.  Try it on dandelions and you will be impressed how it kills the root and all in a week or two.

Often grubs become active near the surface of the soil in late summer and early fall.  Grubs feed on grass roots causing the lawn to die.  Patches of dead grass will lift up easily if pulled by hand.  Skunks, raccoons and moles will also dig in the lawn to feed on grubs.  The fall is the best time to control grub populations.  Larvae hatch in the fall and can be killed quickly due to their small size.

We recommend using beneficial Green Earth nematodes to control the grub population.  These are microscopic larvae that infest the grey and white grubs in the soil.  Be sure to water thoroughly after application.   Applying beneficial nematodes in the fall is a proactive approach to controlling lawn damage next spring.

A healthy lawn will often hide the symptoms of grub damage.  A thick lawn which is watered (once a week at most) and fed properly will grow new roots quickly.  This helps mask grub damage and keep brown patches to a minimum.

Taking the time to care for your lawn this time of year pays big dividends come spring and beyond!

Sign up for Mark & Ben’s free monthly newsletter or visit Markcullen.com

Gardener’s To-Do List for the Middle of August

Garden Tips from Mark and Ben Cullen

We are on the continental divide of the gardening season. On your right is the last four months that you invested and the flowers and fruit that your garden has produced to date. On your left is another four months (or so, depending on where you live). This is when apples ripen and tomatoes are harvested. To many of us, the best is yet to come.

Here is what you need to know:

  1. Divide German iris in August. This is the best time of year for it. Cut the leaves on an acute angle to prevent water from sitting on the cut portion of the leaf.  This helps reduce the chance of disease.  Spread the divisions around the sunny parts of your yard or give them away.
  2. Sow grass seed and lay sod. From Mid-August until early October – this is the best time of year to do this. Seed the thin spots in your lawn. Spread 3cm of lawn soil over the area, then the grass seed, rake smooth, step on the works to firm it in place and water well. Use the new “4 in 1” CIL Iron Plus with quality grass seed, iron and pelletized compost.  This amazing product can be applied to your lawn using a lawn spreader.
  3. If you are receiving some rain and night temperatures are cooling down, this is a great time to apply CIL Iron Plus lawn fertilizer, if you have not done it in 8 to 10 weeks.
  4. Remove the spent blossoms of July flowering perennials and roses, daylilies, delphiniums, early flowering hostas, veronica and the like. Many of these plants produce another set of blossoms when you cut it down this time of year.
  5. If you are in the habit of fertilizing your winter hardy shrubs and roses monthly, then right now is the last application that you will make for this year. Feeding later in the summer/early fall can promote growth that will not have time to harden off before winter.
  6. Hang out a hummingbird feeder: they are returning from the far north, will stop and forage in your garden for a few weeks as they accumulate fat under their wings for the long flight south this fall.
  7. Stake your dahlias. Without support, tall blooms can be damaged by wind and heavy rain.
  8. Harvest as your garden matures. With fruit bearing plants, the more you harvest, the more it will produce.

    Sign up for Mark & Ben’s free monthly newsletter or visit Markcullen.com