Can You Dig It?

Can You Dig It?

A guide to gardening for the not-(yet)-so-into-gardening

By MARIAN MCEVOY for the Wall Street Journal


Excerpt from Part 3. Learn From the Experts

Sources and tips from five green-thumbed pros


Saxon Holt/Photobotanic

Amy Stewart

Eureka, Calif. Author of five books on the perils and pleasures of the natural world, including “Wicked Plants” and “Flower Confidential.”


SuperNaturals Grafted Vegetables, LLC

Mighty ‘Matos

Edible delights: Asparagus, potatoes, lettuce, peas and kale are at the top of my list. It never really gets warm here, but I always try for cherry tomatoes anyway. Mighty ‘Matos look promising—they graft them onto more vigorous, disease-resistant tomato rootstock.

Prized plants: I have yet to meet a species of salvia I don’t like. They’re drought-tolerant, brilliantly colored and wildly diverse. Salvia mexicana ‘Limelight’ is one of my favorites, with its lime green and ultramarine inflorescence. I also love Salvia confertiflora, with fuzzy dark red spikes that hummingbirds feed on.

Go-to store: Whenever I’m in the Bay Area, I stop at Annie’s Annuals and pick up some crazy plant I’ve never seen before.

New this year: I’ve added six raised beds to the backyard so I can grow more vegetables. The challenge is that my chickens free-range, so I’m still figuring out how to fence them out of the beds.

Inspirational read: Michele Owens’s “Grow the Good Life” is the reason I’m expanding my vegetable garden. Her point is that growing vegetables should be part of the ordinary running of a household. She has a career, three kids and a husband who travels, and she grows an incredible amount of food.

Top tip: Don’t dig. Clear the ground, spread out cardboard and newspaper and pour on the compost. It will smother weeds, feed the plants and save you lots of backbreaking digging. The answer to almost every garden problem is “more compost.”