CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- And now, a word from my soapbox.
The gardening industry must do more to entice novices to the world of gardening. According to Target Marketing Magazine, the mail-order gardener's average age is 50. An article in the Baltimore Sun puts the average of gardeners buying supplies online between 40 and 44 years old.
So here are a few interesting consumer-directed products that I believe are aimed to gain new, younger gardening lovers.
First, Direct to Dirt, launched last year for Earth Day, features sustainably grown products with a rice hull pot that's fully plantable and biodegradable. Direct to Dirt comes in four-pack carriers that are colorful, easy to put into a shopping cart and easy to get home and plant.
Green Greetings is a great marketing tool that comes from research showing that there are 7 billion greeting cards purchased in the U.S. alone, and since it's hard to find a card for less than $3.99, why not add a plant? Green Greetings come in a special cup with a holiday message, and the four-inch plants cost less than $4. Home Depot and Walmart carried them at Valentine's Day as well as Mother's Day.
Breath of Fresh Air, launched in stores recently, is focused on educating consumers on houseplant benefits. Grower Delray Plants is promoting six-inch foliage varieties that purify the air.
Locally, some garden centers are using Facebook and emails to announce special sales and events. They could take that one step further with text messages.
One Utah plant grower worked with the local Home Depot to host "Containerfest," a one-day event where people would come with pots in hand and pick out spring annuals that the grower vendor would plant into a beautiful spring container for them. Doesn't that sound marvelous?
And another thing ...
Red mulch. Each year, I have several dedicated gardening friends who send me emails asking me to tell the Red Mulch Story. And each year, I do, because it needs to be told.
There's a lot of controversy about colored mulch, and red seems to be the color that's most controversial. Some people love it. Some people hate it. Those who hate it have stirred the debate by adding the arsenic scare.
Red wood mulch can be made from virgin wood, and the current dyes are not harmful to plants or animals. Some mulches using petrochemical dyes still do find their way into the market, and can be hazardous, particularly to vegetable gardens. Red wood mulch dyes can stain clothes, skin and concrete, but are generally safe.
It just doesn't look natural, in my opinion.
I think mulch should match the ground, and nature, not the brick on your home. (I also wouldn't buy a "sofa-sized painting" that matches my couch, but that's another story altogether.)