"In 1980, it used to be 100 percent independent garden centers. Now, it's 40 percent independent garden centers and 60 percent mass marketers. The consolidation lowers prices, and margins of profit as well. I think there's a place for both in the market," she added.
Finally, Ball said her company needs to better address the retail experience for the novice gardener, where there is a disconnect between the industry and the consumer. A friend told her, "My young friend going into a garden center has the same experience as my grandmother going into Best Buy." She pointed to the Latin names, an audience not being raised by gardeners, and the fact that many novices don't understand the classic industry categories (woody, part sun, perennial, etc.).
"Who else describes their product by the size of its container? We say it's a 10-inch plant, but it's the pot that's 10 inches, not the plant. That's like saying you're buying 12-inch eggs, because the carton is 12 inches long.
"They tell us to give them perennials that look like annuals, and annuals that act like perennials. They don't care if it's a native, they just want low maintenance."
West Virginia State University Extension Service is hosting two hydroponic production workshops covering hydroponic gardening and growing techniques. The free workshops will take place from 6 to 9 p.m. Tuesday and from 10 a.m. to noon Saturday in the Ripley High School Ag Building and Greenhouse.
Hydroponic production is growing plants in nutrient-enriched water without an inert medium such as soil. In traditional agricultural production, soil is used as the growing medium. In this method of production, a nutrient solution provides all the needed nutrition that the plant requires.
Participants will get hands-on education on nutrient film technique, aeroponic and hydroponic growing systems, which have been incorporated into the Ripley High greenhouse for educational and production purposes for the school system.
"We want participants to learn the basics of hydroponics, as well as the benefits," said Melissa Stewart, extension specialist for agriculture and natural resources. "From saving space to reducing weeds, insects, disease and pesticides, we'll cover all areas of using a variety of production systems."
While there is no cost to attend the workshops, registration is necessary. Call the WVSU Extension Service offices at 304-204-4305 or email extens...@wvstateu.edu.
The program is made possible in part by a grant from the Parkersburg Area Community Foundation and the Jackson County Foundation.
Reach Sara Busse at sara.bu...@wvgazette.com or 304-348-1249.