Tips for surviving a trip to the garden center

Tips for surviving a trip to the garden center

 

My first advice would be to try to get what you can from family, friends, cuttings, or your local market. But if you are like me you will find the pull of the garden center very enticing. I’ll try to give you some tips to guide you through the mine field of temptation that is your local garden center.

Garden centers, nurseries, and stores are set up to make money off you. As soon as you walk in you will be overwhelmed by beautiful plants, flowers, pots, and accessories that you feel you need.

 

Here are my tips:

 

  • Make a list of things you need – impulse buys might take space you’d like to use for other crops or plants
  • Set a budget and look at value for money. If a pumpkin plant is €8 and you expect to get just one pumpkin off it calculate that it may be cheaper to buy a pumpkin at the store and get some seeds instead. 4 cauliflower plants for a euro are good value though.
  • Some plants, such as carrots, peas, or beans are easily grown from seed. Don’t buy these as plants but buy the seeds instead.
  • Think about how much space you have – a plum tree is great but how big will it get? Even small plants will grow bigger so make sure you read the labels. Consider: height, width, and form and remember where you intend to plant them.
  • Pick plants that look like they will flower soon & that have nice tightly formed buds. Do not buy plants in full bloom in the garden center.
  • Choose perennial plants wherever possible, these will return year after year. The annual plants that will die soon are cheaper and most prominently displayed but they will not give you joy for long.
  • Look for healthy plants without bugs, slugs, pests, or diseases.
  • Avoid tall leggy plants that look like they have been inside too long.
  • Work out where you will want to position this plant. Is the position going to be in the sun or the shade?
  • Check the labels carefully. Busy garden centers are often messy by the end of the day and people move plants around. I have accidentally bought the wrong plants because they were sitting amongst the plant I wanted to buy.
  • If you bulbs check that they are not rotten or soft.
  • For large purchases, such as trees or shrubs, have a look online as you might be able to get free delivery
  • When buying seeds, make a list and check what you already have. Set up a seed swap with friends because you probably won’t use all the seeds in a pack in your tiny little garden. Read the labels to see when planting is appropriate. Look for seeds that are about expire in the discount bin, you can often buy seed that is close to expiry that lasts 3-5 years past that date.
  • Sign up for the newsletter so that you know when things are on discount.