Monday, March 07, 2011

Spring's Black Friday

A friend of mine loves Thanksgiving more than any other holiday. But she rushes thru the meal of the holiday, minimizing the dishes she serves and will not serve regular coffee after the turkey allowing only decaf with the traditional pumpkin pie. Why?
Because she loves the Black Friday shopping. It's the day after the turkey day that she loves so much. She cleans up the kitchen and puts on her robe, a signal to the family that she will be going to bed at 7pm, to be up at 1:00am. To stand in line.
I am not so much into that shopping. I won't visit the mall on a regular weekend, much less the shopping day from hell. Merchants rely on this day to boost profits, using what are known as "loss leaders", or huge discounted products, to get you in the store, hoping you will pick up other things while you are there.
The same happens with grocery stores. The store near me has sales like 10 items for $10.00. Not exactly comparable to a $47 HDTV, but it gets them in the door.
Garden centers have Black Friday, too. For the garden centers where I work, the big one is the Friday before Mother's Day. Smaller garden centers don't have the luxury of discounting so deeply, so we rely on quality hanging baskets that put on a show.

Or huge patio pots with unusual combinations to make an impact.
Begonias are a big seller for Spring Black Friday.
I encourage my friends to support their local garden center. There was a hiccup in the industry last year, mostly a result of inconsistent weather. The current thinking for the garden center industry for the growing year 2011 is positive.
A few trends in gardening are pointing for an up year. The "grow your own" movement is catching on with folks who realize a small investment in a tomato plant will return large juicy dividends for burgers and salads all summer!
Another positive is the eat local trend. Clipping your own herbs and fresh veggies in your own backyard or patio pot saves a lot of diesel being burned, pounds of packaging from being dumped in landfill and it offers much more satisfaction than simply buying veggies at the supermarket.

One of the ways my grower is trying to meet the demands of our customers is to offer larger plants. Last year, I sold out of tomato plants in 1 gallon pots with cages on them. These were large and mature plants, most with ripening fruit on them. One customer bought as many as we could cram into her Prius.
Another customer said that if he spent that much on a tomato plant, he would need to stay with it, day and night. "If I happened to pay that much for a tomato plant,"  he explained, "I would guard it with my life!"

 This year, I would highly recommend grabbing up a 'Tomatoberry', should you happen to come across one. I grew this variety last year, (seeds from Johnny's) and I was so pleasantly surprised at how wonderful this tomato was. Be sure to allow the strawberry shaped tomatoes to ripen fully before you pick, otherwise I found the skins to be too tough. The blurb on the tag: This plant produces unique strawberry-shaped fruits that have a super-sweet taste and aroma. Each one-bite fruit is shiny deep red, and about 1 inch long. Tomatoberry plants are tolerant of Fusarium Wilt Race 1, nematodes and Tobacco Mosaic Virus. Best when staked, this tomato is high-yielding and takes about 80 days to mature to harvest.
A friend of mine purchased enough of these plants and kept a restaurant in western Illinois stocked with a steady supply of these beautiful tomatoes. The chef from the restaurant was shopping at his garden center and commented on the unusual shape and my friend struck up a deal. He showed up to the restaurant every morning with hundreds of these cute shiny 'maters! The chef was thrilled, the customers happy and my friend made some extra cash! How smart!


  1. A most interesting post. Never thought about Spring Black Friday before, but you're right about all those hanging baskets and potted containers on display right before Mother's Day. It always makes me think that they want us to buy them in hopes that we'll get a hard freeze and then have to buy them all over again. lol

    Last year was my first time to plant any vegetables and now I'm hooked. I've no place for a garden, but used containers. Even managed to grow a couple of pumpkins.


  2. I had never thought about there being a spring black Friday. It was a very interesting thought. I am also not a shopper so I can understand your point of view. I enjoyed the greenhouse photos very much. I am your newest follower.


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