Over at The Inadvertent Gardener Genie laments "the unscented tomato seedlings of Home Depot." She left the store, "sheepish and sad for the people who would, no doubt, buy those seedlings. I have no scientific backing for this claim, but it seems to me that if the leaves have no scent, itâ€™s likely the tomatoes will have very little flavor, as well." Genie's first commenter responded that she had, "purchased tomato plants (even heirlooms) at Home Depot many times and they were fantastic once I got them home and planted them. (Plants are plants, I donâ€™t it matters where they are being sold..."
Both Genie and I would disagree with that. Genies response is here.
What's important to me as a garden center owner is it will be almost impossible to convince a person who say's "plants are plants it doesn't matter where they are being sold... " to shop at my place of business. These people are actually the majority of people who garden. This explains why the box stores have been so successful. We can try and point out the differences, but really the better approach is to focus our attention on people like Genie. Not only will she be more likely to shop at our business, but if anyone is going sway her commenter that not all plants are created equal it's her.
Reader Marc relates how it's unwise to plant tomatoes too early anyway. What's great is how Marc steers us to Baia Nicchia Farm and Nursery. They grow "gourmet tomatoes and more for the Bay Area." I like their post, "Stick it to the man..." where they extol the virtues of planting at the appropriate time and comment that, " we have seen large stores in the Bay Area roll out tomatoes around Valentine's day, which is insane. These stores don't care about you. They just want you to buy as many tomato plants as possible (some now, and some later when the ones you buy now die). Tomatoes are tropical plants, they don't belong in anyone's garden now!"
So while the majority of gardeners are quite content to shop the box stores there is a smaller group of people who think differently. We really don't need a large advertising budget if we can give them what they want. They will spread the word on their own, one blog post at a time.