We had a new neighbor and customer come in yesterday all jazzed about growing their first vegetable garden. It seemed she was thankful to find someone to talk with about the local conditions. It seems that while The Internet has all the answers, it’s almost impossible to find the right answer for the right geographic location. You get info from all over the world, how do you narrow it down? Many if not most new gardeners would love to have someone local they can ask questions of. If you just moved to a new area, or are gardening for the first time the best advice you might receive is, “Know your local garden pro”
In some communities it might be the local Master Gardeners, garden club members, or neighbor that take on the role of "Garden Pro". In most places however it can, and should be the local well run garden center. They are the ones who deal day in and day out with the peculiarities and advantages of where you garden. Here in the foothills and mountains of The Sierra we have folks all the time who see plants for sale way too early down in the Sacramento Valley, or our local box store. It falls to us, the "Local Garden Pro" to explain why they should wait to put those tomatoes in until May. Some don't like to hear that, and plant too early. After a year or two of disappointment, they finally realize we we're right.
We deal daily with younger people just starting out with their gardening. They have all the savvy and knowledge to look this stuff up on The Internet. I sense they are also looking for a trusted adviser to bounce ideas off. “Hey Trey, I just saw tomatoes for sale down in Folsom. Can we plant them here now?” The answer will save them time, money, and a huge amount of frustration. That’s where the locally owned garden center can really shine. What we said about The Internet is true in the neighborhood. Honesty and trust will, in the long run, trump the quick buck. The solution? Get to "know your local garden pro".