Brugmansia and Datura Bonanza!

(my imaginary house)

I'm going crazy for these plants this year. Everyone and anyone who has an outdoor space should preorder one or go buy one from the local nursery in the spring. Brugmansia and Datura's are native to South America and they can be brought inside for the winter if you have enough light. They have incredibly dramatic flowers and are easy to grow...annnnnd if you have an nice evening breeze I guarantee you will be totally hypnotized by their swaying. They are poisonous so Park Slope Parents...keep your kids away. Plantage grows tropicals out on Long Island and have some impressive varieties, check here for local nursery listings of their products.


Is Food Dimensions the best grocery store in Brooklyn?

Yes. Not only for its affordable meat, fish and produce but also for its diversity, like colocasia bulbs/tubers. This is an experiment...but at Food Dimensions I recently found Colocasia tubers, more commonly known in the garden as Elephant Ears, that I've planted and am waiting for roots. These little potato sized bulbs are sliced up and fried in the Caribbean and are often available at Food Dimensions. I should try and eat one, but for now mine are planted with hopes of this:

Soil testing 101 and too much of a good thing gone bad

I've been working on a project that involves a backyard that is a death zone for plants. It's a brownstone that has had the same owners for over ten years and everything they've planted has died, over and over again. They chose the appropriate plant material for the shaded space, they adjust the irrigation when needed (since backyards tend to get over watered in the shade) and they also added fresh manure based compost at least once a year. What gives?
I've finally solved the mystery by doing a soil test from the Cornell Soil Lab, since the diy soil kits weren't telling us squat. Apparently, the soil has an abnormal amount of organic material (wayyy too much compost) which caused the ph to be abnormally low and turned the soil into poison for plants. I won't get into the technicalities but I advise anyone with a backyard to take a couple of soil samples from their back yard and sent it in to the Cornell labs for a very detailed report of your soil. If you have questions or want to discuss your soil report with someone they have a very helpful representative based here in NYC for all of your questions. I don't recommend vegetable growing directly out of any backyard in NYC but if you are tempted, check out the metals in the soil before you plant (the report will give you that).
As for the garden I mention above, we are adding 5-7lbs of garden lime per square foot to increase the ph and hopefully be able to plant something by the end of spring.

Winter Wunderland's

The only time I like the cold is when it looks like this:


Tis the season for spring planning

I like to think that I'm being held hostage by the weather but I am a little embarrassed that I haven't left my apartment all day today. I've been working on spring pre-orders for work and after being inside all day I'm officially over-it (winter). To create seasonal confusion and inspiration I have been perusing nursery and growers catalogues like Proven Winners
For evergreens and conifers and other rare ornamental pieces try Environmentals
But for those of us who are on a low budget, grow your own seeds

Things are starting to happen, I've seen the fresh growth of the Helleborus last week and I bet any day now we'll get the weird January 68 degree temps...Until then, I'm locked up.


The only thing worth mentioning

...is that my Phalaenopsis has finally bloomed. I know it's not such an exotic or interesting accomplishment in horticulture but I have been waiting almost 3 years for this: