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Truth in Advertising. Surprise!

Winter is the time many gardeners visit gardening websites and printed literature, especially catalogues. It is also the time to order seeds in preparation for spring planting. If not, you should--it is exciting, informative and you can save $. But buyer beware. You should view the description and accompanying photos with a grain of salt. After all, the people/companies behind the ads have one purpose -- to get you to spend money on their product. Let me ask, have you ever been served a meal that looks like the beautifully staged image that appears on a menu in the chain restaurants? Me neither. The same holds true for the plant porn featured in many of the aforementioned ad enticements. Why would they ever post an unappealing photo or give you the full unvarnished story (i.e., mentioning the warts and bad behavior, and no plant is without issues)? If these marketers were totally honest and objective, many of their offerings would go unpurchased, and remember--they are in it for the commerce (i.e., your $).

Like many gardeners, I am inclined to experiment with new things each year, and I am often surprised. Unfortunately, the surprise is not always pleasing. This past growing season I tried an indigo (blue) cherry tomato. Well I am here to tell you that the plants were disease free, VERY productive, the fruit (both clusters and individually) was attractive, BUT as an edible they were quite disappointing -- low sugar, crunchy, and almost flavorless. Mind you, I love tomatoes, and grow several cultivars every year. Maybe these blue novelties could somehow be useful for breeding stock, but as food do not waste your time and space. I pulled my three plants in late summer, despite them being loaded with fruit. I apologize to the individuals to whom I had gifted seedlings in late spring. We all make mistakes. The trick is not to make the same mistake again. The lesson: don't always believe the hype OR, as I often told my daughters, it is more than just looking good. This is especially true for plants we intend to eat.

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