Wednesday, April 28, 2010

The best time to plant everything!

From time to time I get asked the question "When should I plant XX" Most of the time I'm pretty quick with an answer and if I don't know right away I'm more than happy to look it up. In a continuing effort to help people in anyway that I can I wanted to share one of the secrets of the gardening world. The university systems throughout the country spend a lot of time and energy focusing on gardening, both large scale and small. I know here in NYC it's hard to imagine, but we as Americans are steeped in agricultural traditions. Because of this rich history, lots of money goes to schools in an effort to help the public at large with their gardening issues. A perfect example of this is the Master Gardeners program. Here in NYC our local Master Gardeners are hosted via the Cornell Cooperative Extension program. These folks are super nice, super helpful, and an amazing resource that should be used and used often.

That being said, this is one example of the great data these types of programs produce. Below is a planting guide specific to NYC developed by efforts at Cornell.
If you would like a .pdf copy feel free to email me or just come by the shop and I'm happy to help you out! And a big thank you to the author(s) of this report, you've done a great service to all of us slugging it out in the trenches!


So our friends over at have set up another exciting Guactacular this Cinco de Mayo (That's the 5th of May for those that don't speak the Spanish.). We at Dig were so excited to be involved last year that we have helped sponsor this years event. Here is a link to the promo-vid. Make sure you get your tickets, rumor has it this event will sell out entirely! And if you can't get tickets, make sure you call Bell House and NachosNY and ask for more tickets!! Because trust me when I say, you do not want to miss this event, see you there!

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Urban Wasteland or Tropical Wonderland?

Have you always wanted to have lush green vegetation around you but thought that it was impossible in the city? Do buzz topics like "Urban Heat Cloud" and "Indoor Air Pollutants" make you worry that the city will kill any tender plants you cultivate? Is your 8th floor walk up darker than a bear cave? Fear not city dwellers! The NY Times recently released an excellent article will all of your worries and concerns in mind.

Survivors In the City

Published: March 28, 2010


THE calendar says spring has sprung. But inside the typical city apartment, one that lacks skylights and glassy southern exposures and unlimited views of blue sky, spring does not arrive on autopilot. Many New Yorkers must actively invest in spring by adding a few hardy houseplants that can make it anywhere, like a dim walk-up in Hell's Kitchen or a tiny railroad apartment in the Bronx.

Harriet Beecher Stowe contended that caring for houseplants was a way of girding one's moral fiber, but the plants can gird one's morale as well. Try a blooming lily (perhaps a clivia) or a mini-cyclamen, which will blossom for months if the room temperature stays below 70 degrees.

For the rest of the article, jump here:

This is a great article with a list of plants that are perfect for the city. They even went so far as to speak with the president of the local chapter of the Indoor Gardeners Society. I've had the good fortune to meet with these fine folks, and let me tell you, they take indoor gardening to a level I have never seen before. You can find out more about them here:

And as a quick aside, we have all the plants mentioned in the Times article at great prices and various sizes. Come check them out for yourself and breath some life into that tiny living space of yours!

Some ear candy and a rallying call for Urban Gareners

Local pod cast 'The No Hiding Show' is a great source to discover indie bands. In this edition they talk with the band Discovery and wax philosophical about locally grown produce. Enjoy the tunes, and listen to some great reasons to get your hands dirty and start growing your own!

Friday, March 26, 2010

What's Growing in Emily's Garden: All Sorts of Things!

A couple of weeks ago, I pulled on a sweater and stepped outside to plant some seedlings. I needed to get my hands dirty and it was definitely time. Although the seedlings would have to be taken inside once I planted them, I thought they should enter their new life stage in the fresh air, where they would eventually wind end up anyway. So, I gathered my supplies: peat pots, seeds, labels, seed starter, hot tea, etc.

Growing my own food is what originally got me interested in gardening. This soon followed by my love of anything that grows in dirt, and even things that don't need dirt to grow. I love to eat, I love to cook, so it makes perfect sense that I developed a love of growing the food that I would then cook and eat. If I were a property owner I would surely be eating fresh eggs for breakfast that I gathered in my own backyard. Alas, that will have to wait.

Seeds are really pretty simple. To begin, seed starter goes into peat pots. Give it a good watering before putting the seeds in, so you don't accidentally wash away the tiny ones. Make a hole in the soil with your finger.

Place seed or seeds (if they are teeny tiny) into the hole. Cover with a little bit of the seed starter, and there you have it. You can keep them in a sunny window until the frost date, or put them under grow lights. I spray my seedlings twice a day to moisten them, and put a little water in a tray underneath them a couple of times a week to moisten the peat pots. This allows them a good soaking twice a week, but also allows them to dry out a bit, so the peat pots don't end up molding, since they can hold a lot water.

Some seeds come up as soon as 3 to 4 days after planting, and some take a couple of weeks to begin showing signs of life. Below: thyme, swiss chard, lemon balm and arugula reach for the light.

Sometimes the strangest things happen. Last year I planted some corn mache salad greens in one of my beds. They never came up, and now, here they are below. They were quite a surprise to me the other day.

It's always nice to go outside and see progress without having to do anything! All thanks to last years work and of course, perennials. I have already taken advantage of these tasty chives that are going crazy!

Tarragon, sage and oregano are slowly waking up after the long winter.

You're liking this whole no work thing? Yep, me too. Strawberries, mint, lavender, and rosemary, among other things, will all spring up again next year.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

What's Growing In Emily's Garden: Staghorn Ferns

Hello, I am Emily, your weekend garden girl at Dig. I will be popping into the blog now and again to be sharing some of my own plants with you. I will also be keeping you up to date on my garden, which will be coming to life again very soon! I hope you enjoy my offerings!

I will begin with Fern. Yes, her name is Fern, and yes, I name my plants although not very creatively. Fern is a staghorn fern, Platycerium. Staghorn ferns are very unique looking, with two different types of fronds. Basal fronds, which grow to be a brown papery looking protective layer for the root system, and fertile fronds, which are green horn-like fronds that grow up and out of the protective layer, giving this plant its common name.

Staghorn ferns are epiphytes, a type of plant that prefers to grow above ground deriving nutrients from the air, dust, or whatever it has attached itself to. Like many young staghorn ferns that you find in nurseries, mine was originally planted in soil. Just recently I mounted it onto a wooden frame with some older staghorns that were in need of some love and attention. To mount your fern, just put sphagnum or peat moss between the mount and the basal fronds, using floral wire to attach and support it.

I would like to think that Fern is enjoying her new mounted home with a couple of friends. Perhaps the older staghorns will enjoy her company as well, I will keep you updated. Stay tuned to find out what else is going on in my garden! Until next time, cross your fingers for spring to come soon!

Friday, February 19, 2010

We've got Flea Fever!

It was bound to happen. With all of the cool things going on at the Brooklyn Flea we just couldn't stay away. I'm happy to announce that Dig will be one of the newest vendors to join the amazing crowd at the Flea. The best part is that it's right down the street from us! Check out the map below for walking directions from the Flea (A), housed in the old Williamsburg Savings Bank, to Dig (B). Our booth will be located in the Vault level near the stairs; Booth 85 for those playing the home game.

View Larger Map

We will have fresh herbs, small house plants, botanic prints and some other exciting things we've been preparing for just such an occasion! Also, don't forget to munch down (Om nom nom!) on some of the delicious food supplied by local vendors like Good Fork in Redhook! Seriously some of the best dumplings in the world!

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Beautiful new orchids

Tired of those played out Moth orchids sold at every bodega in the city? Come check out the wonderful and exciting new selection we just got in here at Dig! More than just showy flowers, many of these orchids have a distinctive sent that will delight your nose as well as your eyes! Descriptions are below each photo.

Mixed Group: Eple. Butterfly Kisses 'Menden Hall', Oncidium "Twinkle", and Dendrobium Fancy Angel 'Lycee'

Blc. Momilani "Rainbow"

Oncidium "Twinkle"

Wils. Pacific Rooster "Robin's Breast"

Cymbidium Clarisse Austin 'Best Pink cultivar'

If you are nervous about stepping out of your Phalaenopsis comfort zone start with Cymbidiums (photo above) aka The Boat Orchid. Similar in care to Moth Orchids they offer a beautiful display for many months. Learn more about all of these beautiful plants here.

Friday, January 29, 2010

The best part of winter

As a west coast transplant to the east coast I've had many things to adjust to. First and foremost in my mind is the chill of winter. Moving from a place that is more or less 64 degrees F year round (and a Mediterranean climate!) to the extremes of NYC has been quite the learning experience. You mean I can't just plant what I want any time of the year? I have to "harden off" my seedlings before sticking them in the garden? The ground is FROZEN? How is that even possible??

Being the eternal optimist, I always look for the silver lining in every cloud that comes my way. Living in Santa Barbara my garden took on a very eclectic look. I would go to the nursery, find something that I liked, and just smush it in with all of my other garden delights. This haphazard approach, while easy, left much to be desired in the way of aesthetics. This brings me to the point of this diatribe - winter affords us seasonal people the luxury of advanced planning.
When the temperature outside is so cold that the ground is frozen, I certainly don't want to go outside, but I still want to play with my garden. The answer is easy, I prepare for spring. All of this downtime allows me to maximize every square inch of my plot so that during the limited growing season I can have an output that I never thought possible, even in warmer conditions.

The method is simple: start with the frost date and work backwards. In NYC this date is April 18th. That means from November (The first average frost of the year) until April I can plan what I will be doing in the summer. Assuming I want my plants to be as large as possible (or as large as my space will allow) come planting time, I want to count backwards about 8 weeks. That means I should plant my seeds around Valentine's day, giving them 6 weeks to grow and then 2 weeks to harden them off before they end up in their permanent homes in April. Now this isn't a hard and fast rule, but it is a decent guideline that can be adjusted depending on the plants you will be growing.

Prior to sowing my seeds I need to decide what to plant. I do this in a very simple way. First determine how much space you have. Then decide what you want to plant. Then I use a simple diagram to maximize my crop. I personally am very limited in space, so I know that I can't grow things like corn that require a large amount of space. I also have an affinity for hot peppers, so I'm going to lean heavily in that direction this year. We will use my tiny community garden plot as our example.

My plot gets ample light all day and is a simple shape. I know that I want to grow high light plants (like peppers!), and that I have approximately 12 sq ft (3ft x 4ft). I want to have 4 types of peppers. I'm going to simply lay out my plants like cookies on a baking sheet. Tallest towards the back (south) so that the others get plenty of sun. I've used various shades of green to illustrate the various peppers.

In addition to this I want some flowers and cute things that will spill over the edges of my raised bed. I'm going to choose some herbs, like oregano, and flowers like cascading petunias. I've used red to indicate where I will be sticking these.

Combining all of this information I now know that I will need to plant at least 3 of each pepper plus more to adjust for loss and so I can pick the healthiest of the bunch to plant. I will also need around 10 or so of my cascading plants to get good coverage around the whole bed. In total I need to prep around 20 seeds, plus extras for wiggle room. Great! My garden is going to maximize the display and my pepper output!

This simple method can be used at any time to plan your garden or even simple containers. Just make a little diagram and start figuring out what you want to put in them. If planning out a whole yard seems like a daunting task, break it down into small sections. Start with the veggies, then the flower beds, then the deck. Or break it up into sections, the far north corner, the far south corner, etc. Just make sure you start soon so you can get the most out of your garden in 2010!

If all of this seems like too much work for you, but you still want a great garden, don't be shy about contacting your local garden center. Any of us at Dig would be happy to help you out in your plans. Heck, we can even do all the planting and maintenance if you want! The important thing to keep in mind is: use the winter to your advantage to maximize your summer!