Interesting request from a customer. Customer comes into the garden center with the complaint that her tomato plant has fungus, and that she need's a fungicide. Now since we wouldn't think of selling tomatoes earlier than late April, I knew shehadn't bought it from us. No big deal, as she thought enough of us to get a organic fungicide for the plant. She didn't want the ready to use, but the concentrate, which cost $13.00. The tomato was bought at Home Depot for less than a dollar. Did it have fungus on it when she bought it, or did it develop in her yard with the rainy cold weather we have been having?
Two points stand out in this. One, in the foothills where we garden the last frost of spring almost always occurs between May 1st to the 15th. The ground is not warm enough to grow the plant now anyway. So putting in a tomato in the ground now before May is taking a huge chance.
The second point is, wouldn't it be better to just get rid of the diseased plant and re-plant later, at the appropriate time, rather than spend a bunch of money on fungicide?
We feel funny about offering plants at the wrong time of the year. The Home Depot, and stores like it don't. They have all the warm season stuff for sale now, as well as plants like bougainvillea that don't even grow here, except as an annual. Sure you could use the bougainvillea as a annual, but does The Depot tell you that?
I get customers who come in and ask where our warm season vegetables are. When we tell them it's to early to plant, some ask why they would be for sale at The Depot if it wasn't the time to plant, and go off to purchase them anyway.
The only way we in the independent garden center business can fight this is through knowledge. We may reach only 10% of the gardening public, but we have to, since I feel it is just wrong to push plants at the wrong time, or plants that are not for the climate zone we live in.
What do you think?