The time for buying plants is in full swing in Minnesota!! It's a time that's filled with so much life and color everywhere you go. It seems that there are plants for sale at almost every store around town. Last year I decided to buy some of my basic annual flowers at the big box stores in town to save money and then buy the more decorative or specialty annuals at our little local garden store. However, after a very frustrating experience at the big box store, I walked out with a few containers of decent looking flowers and a receipt with a larger than expected dollar amount on it. It was frustrating because no one knew how to answer my questions. They didn't know the difference between regular petunias and wave petunias. And they couldn't tell me where to find the things I was looking for. Then I walked in to my little local garden shop and had such a different experience. The staff knew all about the plants they were selling. Things were set up with clear signs and clear categories such as native plants, perennials for shade, annuals for shade, plants for sun, plants for the birds and bees, fruit trees, vegetables, etc. Not to mention, the aesthetics of the place were lovely. And when I swiped my credit card, I was pleasantly surprised that I got about the same number of plants for the same price as what I'd paid at the big box store down the road. It was in that moment that I decided that the local shopping experience not only is better than the big box store experience, but the quality is better, and sometimes (even often times) the prices are very comparable.
So this year, I said farewell to the big box stores when it came to plant buying and instead I stuck to the small local stores. With my father being a landscaper, I get most of my perennials and shrubs with him at one of our big local nurseries in the area. And for the past two years, my tomato and pepper plants have come from a small home greenhouse run by a doctor in St. Cloud who grows heirloom tomatoes, peppers, herbs, and eggplant. The plants are so hardy and such good quality! Not to mention, I get to order everything in February, which gives me time to really decide what I want to grow and to make plans for where each plant will go in my garden. This year, my annuals came from our little garden store that's about two miles up the road from us. Just as last year, the experience was so pleasant and the plants I brought home are healthy and ready to thrive.
Buying from small garden stores and greenhouses also gives you more control over the types of plants you bring in to your yard. Most local stores can tell you what things have been (or have not been) sprayed on the plants. And often times you can find more organic or non-GMO plants at those places as well. These things are important to consider when growing your own food and when striving to turn your yard into a bird and bee haven (which is such a fun thing to do!). If you haven't considered these things in the past, or even this year, I encourage you to do it in the future. I love shopping locally because it helps support our local economy, provide me with better quality plants, and give me a much better shopping experience!
How about you? What have your experiences been in buying locally??