The summer rush – where to buy your plants from

This weekend, I was in Auckland city making over a garden and decided to go to three of the major plant outlet stores to look at what is available and observe people’s buying habits and the information given.

In summary, the early bird gets the plant.

I set out to be at Mitre 10 for 8.30am to give me a chance to look around before the rush. Bearing in mind this was Labour Weekend and supposed to be the best time for planting. The moon is in a favourable position over the next week for planting of the likes of leaf, berry and fruit crops and that pretty much covers the summer range of your average buyer.

Mitre 10 had a huge selection and varieties of tomatoes I have never heard of. It is all marketing I realise, wording like ‘Chefs Choice’ to grab you, with no description of the type of plant you are getting… Believe me I have grown for several chefs over time and all chefs like different types!

My findings of the plants I looked at – tomatoes, zucchini, beans, cucumber, basil, corn, eggplant, chillis and flowers – were that most of them were stressed in their pots, they had been sprayed with copper, the soil they were planted in was of poor quality and there were whitefly hiding in a lot of them. The lack of organic range in shop 1 was shocking. There were a few heirloom varieties which were of quality but not much else. I asked lots of questions and some knowledge was great, but a majority of it was not.

Shop 2 was Bunnings… Well, I looked at the plants and walked straight back out! No quality in the vegetable plants at all, I’m afraid. Buyers be warned.

Shop 3 was Kings Plant Barn which by the time I got there was packed to the gunnels. Kings got my tick as there was a large range of organic and heirloom plants and the disease was minimal. Still a lot of the plants were stressed and dry and whitefly was also present.

Please remember when buying seedlings to look under the leaves for bugs, to feel the soil to see if it is dry and to look at the quality of the plant. Gardening is not meant to be a rush or a race.

When you buy plants that are stressed and bug ridden you are bringing pest and disease into your own back yard.

My conclusion is, the best way to go is simply to grow your own from good quality organic seed and save the seed for next year.

Happy Gardening Everyone!

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