In This Issue: Things To Do in Your Garden ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ Matters of the Heart The late Dr. David Livingstone, the famous explorer/missionary who discovered the head waters of the Nile River, became known for a lot of things. He was an enemy of slavery, a friend to native Africans, an adventurer, missionary and an extraordinary teacher. When Dr. Livingstone died on May 1, 1873 in his beloved southern Africa his loyal attendants Chuna and Susi removed his heart and buried it under a sacred Mvula tree. Apparently Dr. Livingstone spoke so often and so openly about matters of the heart that his greatest friends believed that this was the appropriate thing to do, before shipping his body off to England for a British burial. Livingstone's death is not the only matter of the heart that occurred in the month of May. My daughter Emma is returning home from London, U.K. after a 2 year 'work' experience over there. It seems that, in addition to 'work' she managed to meet a nice British guy and, well, fall in love [not easy for a Dad to say that, by the way]. An extension to her visa in the U.K. was not in the cards, so, home she comes. And her 'Beau' is left behind. He says that he will follow her but he has some details to take care of. It is not an easy thing to do and hardly what he imagined was in the bargain when he fell in love with a Canadian girl a year and a half ago. Thank goodness for Skype, Facebook, e mails, texts and cheap phone rates. Technology is extraordinary, no? ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ It is May, the biggest month for garden activity, notwithstanding the weather in your part of the country. As I rake out my mulch, crouch on bended knee to plant the many transplants that I have started in my greenhouse and as I sit on the porch contemplating the universe at the end of the day I will reflect on matters of the heart, for sure. A couple of months ago daughter Emma asked me to join her on the Becel Ride for Heart in Toronto on Sunday June 2nd. There was no debate about her request: of course I would ride with her. And who would we ride on behalf of? Her grandfather on her mother's side, John G. Farintosh. He passed away 14 years ago from a massive stroke while shopping for a Valentine's card at the drug store [speaking of matters of the heart]. We will travel from Exhibition Place to the Don Valley Parkway, up to the top of it and back again. 25 kilometers in all. I am training for it now. It is, of course, a fund raising effort [they don't close the Don Valley for no reason at all]. I am donating the first $1,000 so you could say that if I am successful in raising another $1,000 it will be matched. All of the money goes to the Heart and Stroke Foundation for research, education and treatment of people living with heart disease. Tax receipts are available. What does this have to do with gardening? Mary Keen, a columnist in The Garden Magazine in the U.K. said recently, "A garden, like a poem, clears a private space in your head where you can retreat. It isn't about complicated techniques or aspiring to what you see in magazines. It doesn't have to be perfect." That says it all then, your gardening experience this year is not about producing a better or more productive garden. Much more, it is about the dreams and aspirations that poetry can inspire. In this context it is more about matters of the heart than digging and weeding. So we have the anniversary of the death of Dr. Livingstone, a trip home for a modern day adventurer and a fundraiser to help save lives and lengthen them. All within a month and two days. Dream with me. It is May. ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ Things To Do in Your Garden Plant. It is hard to say when and what you should plant without explaining that frost plays a critical role. Frost-sensitive plants like tomatoes, petunias, geraniums and the like should not be planted out until the threat of frost is past. For most parts of Canada that is the 24th of May, which lands conveniently on a Friday this year. For zones 2, 3 and 4 I would suggest that planting a week later is not a bad idea. For plants that are not frost-sensitive, like flowering shrubs, trees, perennials, roses and evergreens you can plant now. If, however, you purchase plants that are 'green house fresh' make sure that you harden them off by placing them out of doors for a few hours mid day and protecting them in the garage or indoors the balance of the day and evening. Lengthen the time that they are out of doors each day for about 2 weeks until they are well acclimatized to outdoor wind, sun and evening temperatures. Dig and divide. Perennials that are overgrown are best dug up and divided this time of year. Use a spade, shovel or garden fork to dig up the whole clump and then slice the clump in half, then half again [like a pie]. Plant the divisions in the appropriate locations or give to the appropriate friends/family [preferably ones who like to garden]. Soil prep. 90% of your gardening success depends on it [I feel like I have said that before]. Add generous quantities of compost to your planting holes and/or garden. Give the roots of your new plants a happy place to grow and feed the soil with plenty of organic nutrition. I spread 2 cm of finished compost mixed with 30% sharp sand over my entire garden each spring. Plant veggies from seed. As noted last month you can plant carrots, onions [I planted mine last night], peas, lettuce, mesclun mix, cabbage, broccoli and cauliflower this time of year from seed. As my late friend Lois Hole [Alberta] said to me many times, 'Go for it early - get a better crop.' Fertilize and seed your lawn. It was a cold, wet April everywhere across Canada. The lower main land of B.C. and Vancouver Island did get an early spring, but not so for the rest of us. If you have not applied Golfgreen yet, do so soon. The slow release nitrogen in the bag is the most sophisticated formula on the market and it lasts for up to 10 weeks. Apply again in early summer and late fall and I guarantee that you will notice a dramatic reduction in the number of weeds, a greener, healthier lawn and greater resistance to insect problems. Take time for yourself. Consider the time that you spend at your favourite garden retailer a treat to yourself: in other words, don't rush it! The selection of plants and garden supplies is truly remarkable this time of year. Explore and enjoy! ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ Clear Flow Hose Speaking of garden supplies, I am really excited about this new hose that we are introducing at Home Hardware. The Mark's Choice Clear Flow Hose is drinking water safe, flattens out to 1/3 the size of a garden variety hose when empty, is kink resistant, flexible to minus 10 degrees C and it is affordable. We will be advertising it on TV this month, big time. When you are at your local Home Hardware look for it. I stake my reputation on it. Invented in Canada and made in Canada. I love that!!! CJAD Montreal. I am delighted to announce that my weekly garden tip, The Green File, is now airing on CJAD Montreal, Quebec's largest English language station. Every Friday I will also appear live on The Andrew Carter Morning Show at 8:40am. Listen for this weekly garden segment. Expanding my syndicated newspaper column. This month I am happy to report that the following papers are now carrying my weekly column: Boissevain Recorder - Boissevain, Manitoba Daily Gleaner - Fredericton, New Brunswick The Journal Pioneer - Summerside, PEI I am always looking for new papers to carry my passionate and informative gardening message. If you would like to see my column in your local paper, please email firstname.lastname@example.org with the newspaper name and editor's name. All the best. Mark Merchant of Beauty.