Take a look at the two pictures above. They have a tenuous connection to the subject of this blog, as both beds are supposed to yield food. The picture on the left is of an Asparagus bed and the one on the right is of a (putative) strawberry bed. You can see that there aren’t very many asparagus plants that are actually growing (it’s about 50%) and that there are absolutely no signs of life on the right.
What happened? I got suckered into buying plants only on the basis of price, from a company called Gurney’s. They were way cheaper than anyone else, luring buyers in with incredible deals, and I took the bait. When the plants arrived they looked pretty pitiful, and it was still too cold to plant them (and we didn’t have the beds quite ready, but we honestly couldn’t have put them in anyway). We went ahead and planted them, of course, as soon as it warmed up a little and we got the beds ready. In the meantime we coddled those little suckers, putting them into trays of moist mulch and keeping them in the garage at night when it was going to get down toward freezing. We planted them, then we watered them, and then we waited. At one point it looked as though there was going to be one lone strawberry plant that sprouted, but it was a false alarm. They were all dead, dead, dead.
So I took pictures and sent them to the company, asking for replacements (since they don’t give outright refunds). We were sent 50 more strawberry plants but all asparagus plants were out of stock, so we got some small pine trees to fill out some of the remaining credit. Jim and Gideon re-planted all the strawberries and put the trees into pots. Everything died. We are now looking at a third planting of strawberries, and there will be no trees to fill in the corner of the back lawn as we had planned, at least for the time being. I am going to ask for an actual cash refund from the company, as we’ve wasted a lot of time planting dead things. Now asparagus is out of stock everywhere, so we won’t be able to get fill-ins until next spring. There may be strawberries available somewhere, but the selection will be very limited. So we may wait until spring for those, too.
The thing of it is, I could have avoided this whole mess if I’d reminded myself of a timeless truth: If it seems too good to be true, it is too good to be true. I could have looked up reviews on the company. More importantly, I could have remembered that I’ve bought from Gurney’s before, with the same dismal results. They’re the people from whom we bought 50 raspberry canes back when we lived at our former house and from which said plants we harvested maybe three fruits. Yes, three individual fruits. Usually raspberries are harder to kill than weeds; these were spindly and unhealthy, refusing to thrive no matter the fact that they got plenty of sun and were planted in well-prepared beds. My asparagus bed was also a disaster at the old house, but I think we bought those plants from another company and there were good reasons why those plants didn’t ever do much, as I totally miscalculated the amount of sun they would get in early spring.
So those wonderful homegrown strawberries that we’ve so enjoyed in previous years are going to have to wait for another season. Half of the asparagus bed is going to be a year behind. What a pain. Saving money just didn’t save me much!
It’s the Stingy Person Who Spends the Most