We are starting to see an increasing number of people using Google and other search engines to find answers for their gardening questions. My concern is that for some it causes indecision, and/or incorrect action. We had a customer come in the other day who wanted to feed his plum tree. He asked for a 10-10-10, or 12-12-12-12 fertilizer as this is what the "experts" had said from his search. We don't have fertilizer with these numbers, and I don't know anyone in the area that does. Our 16-16-16 fertilizer wouldn't work nor would our organic 5-6-4, according to this man's research. It has to be what the websites he visited said he needed. Yes, I tried to explain that 16-16-16 would be the same as 10-10-10, except you would apply less per instructions. He said that he had spent hours searching for the correct answer and the "real" person (me) was not about to sway his psychic investment in the virtual experts. I wonder if he will ever get his tree fed? Another customer came in and accused us of infecting the inside of his home with aphids from alleged infected artichoke he bought. Rather than come to the nursery and find out what would have solved his concerns he chose instead to search Google for answers. Apparently the cure was worse than the problem, as he now claims all his indoor seedlings died. Being concerned with customer service we would have given him whatever he needed to solve his problems. Advice or product, we would have given it to him for free. Now we have an angry customer. He does not hold the advice he received from Google search as the cause for his loss, but rather us. This despite the fact that we we're never consulted on possible cures.
As more and more people look to Google and other search engines for information I am concerned that many are eschewing the advice of local experts, whether online or not. I love the internet and all the information that's out there. Yet it's important to realize that sometimes the best answers come from "real" people who actually deal with this stuff on a day to day basis.Â The best answers come from consulting both the internet and local experts. The local experts can even be consulted via internet, if they have an online presence. Otherwise you might actually have to "talk" to them. Advice on plum trees or dealing with insect concerns can be different from region to region. Advice from New York may not be applicable to northern California.
My advice to the customer who has interests or concerns is to familiarize your self with the subject via the internet. Don't let that be the end however. If you are still concerned, or feel you don't understand what the search has reveled find yourself a trusted local source of advice. Local independent garden center, nursery, Master Gardener, etc. Most have a vested interest in getting you the right advice. Right advice equals happy people equals customer for life. Don't let yourself get "over Googled."