Saturday, August 1, 2009

Bargain Seeds and Plants

Most of us who qualify as Useful Gardeners - that is, we garden for productivity and usefulness in addition to beauty - also keep a watch on our garden spending. Each year, I swear that I'm only going to spend a handful of dollars on my gardens.... a resolution that goes smack out the window when I find fabulous "must have" new plants, tools, ornaments - you know the routine. But I do treasure bargains when I find them, including the amazing plants one can find at local Master Gardener fund-raising sales and end of season close-outs at area garden centers.

I just scored a huge handful of good veggie and flower varieties in 2009 seed packets at a local store - lettuce, broccoli, carrots, parsley, you-name-it, for my fall garden.... at 19 cents per packet. Down from $1.99, in some cases. All the garden and variety stores are clearing out the very last of the seeds and it's a great time to grab seeds for now and next spring. Even some of the seed catalogs have end-of season, on-line seed sales going.

I keep seeds in a tupperware-type sealable container in the bottom of our fridge. Leftover seeds and home-gathered seeds from the spring and summer season are in small ziplock bags in the container and "regular" seed packets are just stored "as is". They last not only for the entire year but up to five years, depending on the variety.

In addition, I notice that most of our garden centers are closing out their summer plant stock. Obviously, this is no time to load up on annuals - unless you have an outdoor fall event for which you need show-stopping back yard - but in among the summer annuals I've found wonderful buys on plants that are actually perennial here. This past week I bought a flat of quart-sized asiatic lilies, which do wonderfully well naturalized in our gardens, at Home Depot on a Buy One - Get SIX Free sale. Yep. I bought the entire flat of six good-sized lilies for the price they charged for ONE earlier in the season. Why? Because they were no longer blooming and therefore wouldn't sell. I bought several very nice orchids that will live in our house (porch in summer) for $3 each (formerly $14 each).

Remember that the truly neglected, unwatered plants may not be worth even the small amount the stores are charging.** So look over the stock carefully - but this is a wonderful time to get fabulous bargains on plants and seeds.

So, Frugal Gardeners - shop now!

**(The neglect you see in the stores is often the result of the Pay-Per-Scan regimen that the Big Box stores have imposed on growers in another post. As a former nurseryman, I will rant about that in another post.)

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