What's new at the garden center

Today, between 11 and 12, is my annual talk with The Auburn Garden Club. I will be talking about what's new at the garden center.This year, more than ever in the past what's new is not a plant or tool but a new attitude. People are looking to take control of their lives and one way they seem to be expressing this is through renewed interest in gardening. They seem very interested in new ideas about gardening like 'Backyard Orchard Culture", which shows how to have more fruit varieties, successively ripening, in your backyard. Another area of renewed interest is in organics, and how to create a more healthy garden environment. My sales of conventional snail bait has all but washed up compared to organics like "Sluggo". Most all my fertilizers are now organic, as well as our pesticides. There also seems to be a willingness to put in the extra effort to garden. It would seem to me that for the time being, DIFM (do it for me) is waning. Not the DIFM that involves putting together a color bowl already finished and selling it, but rather the 'install my landscape for me". I am glad we never started a landscape division when it was so popular. People are buying pH meters to test the soil, they are buying seed starting kits and starting vegetables and flowers now. They seem more willing to invest time an material into doing it right and having success with their efforts.

I see plenty of younger people just starting out with their first gardens. The interest and willingness is there, just not the practical knowledge. We have a whole generation or two that has been off the farm, and the things that we in the business take for granted are brand new to them. What a fantastic opportunity for us to lead them in the right direction and build a customer for life. My only advice for dealing with this new generation of gardeners, as well as all gardeners is be "authentic".  "Authenticity' is in such short supply these days that those that do posses this atribute will have no problem kepping and gaining customers. Authenticity means no sugar coating what it means to get dirty and garden. Yes, it's sometimes it's to hot or cold outside. You can also fail at some gardening attempt and have to try again. Sometimes your back might hurt after a day in the garden. These are not negatives if you look at what gardening means in the long run, a better world just outside your door.

One thing garden clubs should do is have a web page. It doesn't have to be fancy, it can even be free.  We started our preschool and daycare blog at Wordpress for free. 

I don't want to worry about SEO (search engine optimization) or other reasons it might be good to own your domain, etc. Just get that web page or blog up and running so members, or potential members can become involved. Lot's of younger people might be interested in joining a garden club, but working during the day when most meetings are held makes it hard to ever attend. So what? Let them attend virtually via the internet. Sure it might be better to get out and physically be with others in the club, but if you can't attend at least you can keep up with what's going on via the blog.