Back in the early 1990’s, I was but a young lad doing grunt work at Hubbard’s West Side Gardens in Chico for the trusted old time garden guru, Herb Hubbard. One of my memories (though not the fondest) was the hundreds and hundreds of roses we would receive bare root every year which we would pot up, organize and sell like hot cakes in the spring. After months of working with roses we would all have battle scars all over our arms from working with the thorny beasts. Now Mr. Hubbard, being the hands on owner that he was, would be right there with us for those long days of potting, and like the rest of us, he could be covered in bandaids at the end of the day. However, what was interesting was that Mr. Hubbard, over the course of 60 years of working with roses, had developed a skin condition that would cause him swell up with dark purple welts at every place he had been pricked. Apparently, after so many years of being punctured by rose thorns, his body had been afflicted with Sporotrichosis, also known as rose pickers disease, and every year he would become more and more scarred and mangled by it.
Now I bring this up because once Courtney and I stepped into the owners shoes and realized that we might be doing this for a long time,we began to think about our exposure to plants and chemicals used in our industry and how they would effect us in the long run, and you might have noticed we’ve never been ones to have a huge selection of roses. I have, however developed nasty rashes that get worse with age from handling different conifers and euphorbias, but my primary concern going forward would be my exposure to the different chemicals that are already on plants when handling them all day.
Though the days of using DDT are thankfully long in the past, the use of new chemicals in our industry may to be at an all time high. The box store mentality of creating product as quick as possible for high turnover leads to growers using amazing amounts of chemicals to create faster growing frankenplants that are irresistible to the consumers eye. Unlike food in this country, there are no regulations on growing the plants we all so love. The use of powerful fertilizers, systemic insecticides, fungicides, and growth regulators are so common in this industry that customers seem to think plants are sick or of poor quality if they aren’t produced that way. While our industry has the facade of being green and beautifying the environment, we are in fact doing immense harm by contaminating our precious water and poisoning the beneficial organisms that indirectly feed us. And It’s all around us, and we are not adored in lab jackets and hazmat suits, yet we are tactilely absorbed in dirt, leaves and flowers all day.
That is why we do our best to not only educate our customers of such things, but it is also why are shifting more and more of our business into growing more natural plants safe for you and us to handle and love for years to come. We use mostly reused pots, fertilize sparingly using mostly organic fertilizer, and never use unnatural pesticides or fungicides or growth regulators on the plants that we grow here. Sometimes our plants will not be completely full or in full bloom, but rest assured, they are good plants that grow well in our temperamental neck of the woods. And you have our word, that these plants will in fact be good for the birds, the bees and all the other beings that are so important to all of us.