Posted by Gordon | Posted in News | Posted on 09-10-2015



I can’t claim to have had the most rain as the 25 inches the central part of South Carolina received dwarfs the 6 inches we received in Beaufort but I can tell you that our garden looks very poor as most of the fall plantings have been beaten down and will require replanting.  This is disheartening as it is late and many plants will not have time to set up and produce before the cold weather arrives.   Such is gardening and the weather. We have had to forego two years of citrus production due to the cold and now we will miss much of our wonderful fall garden due to the excessive rain.  I will not post images of what is left of our garden but will hope that we rebound before the next blog so I can brag.

I do want to describe a method I have used this fall in growing some very attractive seedlings.  Like all gardeners, I want to plant a little of everything and thus end up purchasing plants six to nine at a time in small ready packs from Lowe’s or other garden centers.  This can become expensive when one grows five varieties of collards, 3 kinds of Swiss Chard, 4 different loose leaf lettuce – you get the idea.  so I am growing my own.  I find that buying an ounce of seed for each variety is very affordable (especially when the extra can be stored in Ziploc bags and frozen for use the next couple years).  My  method is very simple:  I take my used plastic solo cups and drill 4 holes in the bottom (you can drill ten cups at a time with an electric drill).  I then insert a peat pot inside the cup.  Next comes the potting soil (usually Miracle Grow) and then I place one or two seeds into the pot.  Water and stand back.  I grow mine outside on a raised table during the warm seasons and inside under lights and over heat when it is cold.  No weeds, no rabbits, no deer!  When the seedlings are tall enough to be transplanted, I take them to the garden and remove the peat pot from the solo cup and plant the seedling into the garden soil.  The top ridge of the peat pot discourages the cut worms (although some adventurous climbers do find the stems) and the roots are not disturbed and keep on growing into the new soil.  The plants get a good head start and do better than the seedlings I purchase and have to transplant out of the ready packs where the root systems seem to always hold onto the plastic sides or grow over into the adjacent seedlings space and become shredded or at the very least disturbed.    I first used this method to sprout my daylily hybrid seeds which proved very successful and made it very easy to keep tract of the ancestry of each seedling as each seedling grew in a separate pot.



Now that I have talked about our garden, let me get on my soap box.  As many of you know, I am a biologist, a master gardener, and after having a garden for the majority of my 71 years, I have learned a lot about growing things.  One might say that I seldom kill a plant.  However, when I receive a plant I ordered on the internet that is already dead, there is not much I can do.  This is exactly what occurred when I ordered a Desirable Pecan Tree from the Willis Orchards Co. (www.willisorchards.com) in 2014.  I paid $24.99 plus $19.00 shipping for the tree.  I expected to get a living tree for my $44.00.  I also expected the Willis Orchard Co. to honor their friendly guarantee as stated on their webpage:

You may have heard horror stories about purchasing from other companies that treat their customers with disrespect and give them the proverbial “run around” when trying to correct an error that has been made. You need not worry about this from Willis Orchard Company, this will not be the case in the unlikely event that an error or other problem occurs. We are kindhearted and reasonable people who are willing to work out issues, not compound them.

I emailed The Willis Orchard Co. and told them what had happened.  I received a response from Brandi Wright wherein she told me that there were three processes by which I could get a replacement.  None of the processes, however,  included The Willis Orchard Co. paying the additional $19.00 shipping charge.  Now $19.00 is not an insurmountable charge but the failure of the Willis Co. to satisfy one of their customers who has a valid claim with them is a problem.  I should not be required to pay double shipping for a plant that arrived dead.   They have an obligation to satisfy their customers without the run around, distrust (disrespect) and the horror stories as mentioned on their website.

I followed up my email with a google search of The Willis Orchard Co.  I discovered some very disturbing facts.  There seems to be a plethora of dissatisfied past customers having done business with The Willis Orchard Company.  One report comes from a very reputable online plant site (Davids Garden) where it is stated that as many as 50% of those doing business with this company were dissatisfied.

In all fairness, I must admit that I have done business with Willis before and never had occasion to make a claim but I have also done business with many of their competing nurseries online and never had difficulty getting a replacement when needed without paying for a second shipping charge.

I find it startling that this company would have such a policy.  At any rate – BEWARE!  Although their plants are fine, their business plan is very poor.



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