Caveat Emptor

While I was host of “The Victory Garden,” Scotts was our sponsor, and every spring, a huge semi-truck would pull up in front of my house, loaded to the ceiling with free Scotts products for us to use during the filming season. Potting soil, spreaders, tools, mulch — you name it. Whatever they manufactured, we were free to request in any quantity we desired.

It was heavenly.

Needless to say, I got quite spoiled.

osmacoteEqually, ensconced in this comfortable sponsor bubble, I blithely forgot what things cost in the real world. And why not? Whatever I needed was free in the supply shed. So vast were the quantities that I still have cases of various items in the garage, a decade after I left the show.

But yesterday I noticed we had finally run out of Osmacote. This is Scotts’ slow-release fertilizer, lasting 4-6 months, and it is ideal for a number of uses, especially potted plants. So off I went to Lowes, and bought two 1.5 lbs jars for $10.48 each, plus tax. I didn’t think much about it at the time, until I read the directions and realized each 2 gallon pot required a very large cap-full. A quarter way through the collection, I was already down one bottle. So, I thought, this means it will take 40 bucks to fertilize the houseplants? Can’t be! Can it?

On a lark, I decided to do a bit of online searching. As I always do, I started on Amazon to establish a base price. Imagine my surprise when I found I could have ordered a 50lb bag for $130 bucks, or $2.60/lbs vs the $6.98/lbs I paid at Lowes. Then, after a bit more searching, I found another place selling a 50lbs bag for $107, or $2.14/lbs, also with free shipping. Oh my sainted aunt!

Now it’s true some people won’t want or need 50lbs of Osmacote, but the savings were similar for smaller 10 and 25lbs bags. The moral of the story here is that it REALLY pays to shop online for things you use regularly in the garden, because the markup on small quantities is obviously outrageous, preying on convenience and ignorance of the consumer.

Caveat emptor!

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