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An inconvenient, unpopular, truth re: buying veggie and herb plants

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An inconvenient, unpopular, truth re: buying veggie and herb plants

Post  martha on 5/13/2014, 3:29 pm

This is my plug NOT to buy seedlings from Home Depot, Lowe's, Walmart, etc. I love Home Depot, but I won't buy plants there. In 2009, there was a very serious outbreak of late blight. Buying from the big box stores hugely increases the chances that diseases will be spread quickly, efficiently, and over a huge area. 

http://www.nytimes.com/2009/07/18/nyregion/18tomatoes.html?_r=0

I'm not trying to hurt these stores. I would buy cat litter, cat food, scratching posts, and vacuum cleaner bags at a box store. I would get my cat, though, from a shelter, a friend, or a trusted breeder. 

Plants are more expensive at a nursery, but when you look at how much you are saving versus buying the vegetables at a grocery store, the difference is so small. Can we really afford not to pay the higher price? And in the meantime, we are helping the smaller companies stay in business.

Ok. Stepping down from my soapbox.
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Re: An inconvenient, unpopular, truth re: buying veggie and herb plants

Post  AtlantaMarie on 5/13/2014, 4:16 pm

To a certain extent, I have to agree, Martha.

Unfortunately, in my area, the local nursery buys from the same wholesaler as HD/Lowe's.  It's all Bonnie's Plants... 

Granted, the nursery sometimes carries items that the box stores don't.  And I know they have a much better selection of heirloom seeds from Burpee than anywhere else in the area!
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Re: An inconvenient, unpopular, truth re: buying veggie and herb plants

Post  elysia on 5/13/2014, 4:25 pm

Thanks for posting this Martha!
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Re: An inconvenient, unpopular, truth re: buying veggie and herb plants

Post  walshevak on 5/13/2014, 5:09 pm

@AtlantaMarie wrote:To a certain extent, I have to agree, Martha.

Unfortunately, in my area, the local nursery buys from the same wholesaler as HD/Lowe's.  It's all Bonnie's Plants... 

Granted, the nursery sometimes carries items that the box stores don't.  And I know they have a much better selection of heirloom seeds from Burpee than anywhere else in the area!
Yep, same in my area.   Bonnie Plants has a growing facility about a 1/2 mile from my house.   Walmart is Bonnie as well.

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Re: An inconvenient, unpopular, truth re: buying veggie and herb plants

Post  gwennifer on 5/13/2014, 5:49 pm

Martha I think you've brought up a good point. I have been trying to be a more conscientious shopper and vote with my wallet. It's hard getting used to my money not going as far, but supporting the right type of products and small/local business is important. And I hadn't even considered it from a disease angle when it comes to veggies.

Please everyone, we can all point out the easy access to Bonnie plants, but keeping my eyes open and being aware, I've come across many places where I can buy veggie starts from local growers. Saturday market and craigslist for starters. I've found plenty of hobby gardeners who like to sell veggie starts. If you develop a relationship with any of them, they are often happy to start specific types for you. Usually all it takes is asking and supplying them with the seeds. And some of these gardeners have created relationships with local nursery and nursery supply stores and bring them flats of starts to sell. Look in your yellow pages for greenhouses, not nurseries. Call ahead so you're not driving around and ask if they grow their own herb and vegetable starts. If they tell you no, ask if they know a local grower. Good luck!
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Re: An inconvenient, unpopular, truth re: buying veggie and herb plants

Post  AtlantaMarie on 5/13/2014, 5:51 pm

Oh, yeah.  I forgot Wally-world.  Same here...

One of Mike's students last week is a family member of the owners of Bonnie's.  She was so excited to see my SFG and Bonnie's tabs on some of the plants.  She knew immediately it was a SFG and asked all sorts of questions.
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Re: An inconvenient, unpopular, truth re: buying veggie and herb plants

Post  Marc Iverson on 5/13/2014, 9:01 pm

@gwennifer wrote:It's hard getting used to my money not going as far, but supporting the right type of products and small/local business is important.

right and ...

And I hadn't even considered it from a disease angle when it comes to veggies.

... double right, IMO. And add bugs and bug eggs to that.

It's your community, folks. Support it or don't, but the results won't be surprising either way. Sort of like they say about people getting the democracy they deserve, they also tend to get the communities they deserve.

Local nurseries are irreplaceable, in my experience. I sure can't go into a big box store and get anything like the advice and troubleshooting help I can get at a local shop. I'm also not as likely to get a plant hardened off to my local conditions as opposed to one shipped out a few days ago from a big grower in California or another part of the country entirely. The stuff I get from my local nursery has been hardened off very nicely; the stuff from out of town can sometimes wilt in hours and be dead in a day.
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Our Home Depot stocks

Post  kauairosina on 5/13/2014, 9:09 pm

starts from local nurseries.  Even Walmart does the same.  Guess we're too far away to have them come from the mainland.
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Re: An inconvenient, unpopular, truth re: buying veggie and herb plants

Post  GWN on 5/13/2014, 9:34 pm

SO glad to be free of purchasing seedlings, in many ways thanks to this forum.
Thanks to Martha for bringing this up.
I built a 200 dollar hoop house last year (100 in the US) and with not TOOO much work and work that I LOVE to do....
I now have 200 tomato plants in gallon pots that I am going to try to sell at my first farmers Market this sunday.
I am so excited about sharing my wonderful, unique heirloom tomato plants with people who are ready for something DIFFERENT.
I already have MANY people asking about where they can buy the plants.

The last 3 years I have been growing extra plants and giving them away, so now I have several locals HOOKED on heirloom tomatoes.   (talk about marketing schemes )  Smile
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Re: An inconvenient, unpopular, truth re: buying veggie and herb plants

Post  yolos on 5/13/2014, 9:49 pm

@AtlantaMarie wrote:Unfortunately, in my area, the local nursery buys from the same wholesaler as HD/Lowe's.  It's all Bonnie's Plants... 

Try Pike's nursery.  They are all around the Atlanta area.  I bought broccoli from there this year and they were not Bonnie.

As far as tomatoes, last year I said I would not buy any tomato transplants from anyone because I have diseases each year and wanted to eliminate the chance of bringing any diseases into my garden.  But there was just one tomato that was perfect so I bought it and planted it.  Of course, every tomato in my garden came down with Bacterial Spot and Bacterial Speck.  The one and only tomato transplant I bought was the first to get the symptoms and the first to die off.

This year, all tomato plants were started from seed.  I actually picked up one tomato plant at HD or Lowes that I had wanted to try in my garden this year and put it in my cart.   Then beat myself over the head and put it back.  No, no, no, I learned my lesson last year.
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Re: An inconvenient, unpopular, truth re: buying veggie and herb plants

Post  martha on 5/13/2014, 10:14 pm

Yolos, okay 

Elysia, I love your dog!
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Re: An inconvenient, unpopular, truth re: buying veggie and herb plants

Post  AtlantaMarie on 5/14/2014, 8:16 am

Unfortunately, the closest Pike's is about 25 or 30 miles from me.  Mike would certainly raise his eyebrows at me, lol.  But it's something to think about.

Marc, I totally agree!  We were talking last night about how the box stores are ruining all our country roads and communities.  I much prefer the smaller stores. 

Maybe I can use that to justify driving to Pike's...   thinking 

GWN - Good luck!  Please let us know how it goes!
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Re: An inconvenient, unpopular, truth re: buying veggie and herb plants

Post  martha on 5/14/2014, 11:21 am

I too, prefer smaller stores, always. I said I love Home Depot because it is my guilty pleasure, and there are fewer real hardware stores. I absolutely shop at real hardware stores for lots of stuff, but things like lumber, I go to HD. I've never frequented a lumber company, so it's sadly easier for me not to think about them. And when I go to HD, things certainly do find a way of getting in to my cart. And I have gone as a destination to buy raised bed kits for my garden. But not plants. Ever.
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Re: An inconvenient, unpopular, truth re: buying veggie and herb plants

Post  camprn on 5/14/2014, 11:39 am

@AtlantaMarie wrote:Oh, yeah.  I forgot Wally-world.  Same here...

One of Mike's students last week is a family member of the owners of Bonnie's.  She was so excited to see my SFG and Bonnie's tabs on some of the plants.  She knew immediately it was a SFG and asked all sorts of questions.
Who's Mike and why does this person have students?

Bonnie plants are all over the country but they are not all grown at the same facility.Not all bonnie plants are bad.

It is a good thing to be aware of where the plants come from. I was fortunate a few years ago that I didn't buy the diseased tomato plants. My advice is get to know plant diseases, get to know what they look like. This information will help you in the future. Balancing risks in the garden can be tricky.

This type of thinking should be part of the garden growing and shopping experience. Not just buying from Bonnie, HD, Lowes, etc.

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Re: An inconvenient, unpopular, truth re: buying veggie and herb plants

Post  grownsunshine on 5/14/2014, 12:41 pm

I bought 3 nice size tomato plants from Costco for $6. Good deal! One of them had a little bit of shriveled leaves. I thought I could nurture it, give it water and it would be healthy in no time. Well, rookie mistake that I"m sure you all wouldn't make. I think it was a disease. No matter where you buy your plants, there is a chance of buying something with disease. The larger box stores probably have lower quality control. I'm sure the smaller nursery's take greater care in getting rid of the plant problems....so it's probably a matter of personal preference and who you chose to support. I'm with most of you preferring the smaller, family owned, unique places with quality products.

I'm so excited that I grew a bunch of plants from seed this year. It's the way to go, if all things work out and you are able to do it. The biggest cost for me was the red cups from Costco and the MM. I bough a bunch of seeds from places many of you recommended - Seed Savers, Renee's Garden. 

...and yes, I still love to go to HD for stuff too.

I was at HD and this guy told me about some places in Chino, CA called Ayala Nursery & Wolfenbarger. They are nurseries in the back of people's houses (in the same general area) and they sell plants for a very reasonable price (no overhead like regular nurseries or box stores). Apparently they also sell to landscapers, etc. Haven't checked them out yet, but sounds like it could be a nice find. If you want directions (that he gave me), PM me.

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Re: An inconvenient, unpopular, truth re: buying veggie and herb plants

Post  AtlantaMarie on 5/14/2014, 1:16 pm

I'm sorry, Camp!  I thought everyone would read my mind and know that Mike is my DH.  I should know better!! We are instructors who teach self-protection classes. That's why the students. 
So far, most of the Bonnie's plants have done well for us.  I lost a few okra and some of the lettuce, but that's it.


Last edited by camprn on 5/14/2014, 1:34 pm; edited 2 times in total (Reason for editing : removed somewhat solicit/promotional language.)
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Re: An inconvenient, unpopular, truth re: buying veggie and herb plants

Post  gwennifer on 5/14/2014, 4:04 pm

Two other great sources for locally grown plants that support your community:

Around here all the local high schools have plant sales, typically in May. The plants are grown and cared for by the horticulture and agriculture units in the schools, and the funds raised go right back into the schools. If you are in Vancouver like me, I know for certain that Prairie High School is having theirs this Saturday May 17th.

Also, the local master gardening extension out of WSU holds a big plant sale on Mother's Day weekend every year here. So you can look yours up, give them a call, and find out if they do something similar.
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Re: An inconvenient, unpopular, truth re: buying veggie and herb plants

Post  AtlantaMarie on 5/14/2014, 4:49 pm

AH!  Thanks, Camp!
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Re: An inconvenient, unpopular, truth re: buying veggie and herb plants

Post  Marc Iverson on 5/14/2014, 6:12 pm

@gwennifer wrote:
Also, the local master gardening extension out of WSU holds a big plant sale on Mother's Day weekend every year here. So you can look yours up, give them a call, and find out if they do something similar.

Good reminder about the Master Gardener's sales. MG's are community-supported and really need the money to help keep an office going so they can put on classes and help out people with questions like us. Our MG program sells both annuals and perennials at their annual spring sale, and sells wreaths and select plants in the fall.

Your local 4H club might have a plant sale, too. Ours does. It's a great program for kids.
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