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Every Saturday and Sunday morning from 6 to 10, GardenLine's Randy Lemmon answers listeners' questions on everything from aphids to zoysias. He's Houston's absolute expert on lawns and gardens, offering help to listeners both with and without "green thumbs."
Randy's a Texas Aggie who truly KNOWS plants and flowers. He explains them with ease and candor, and is as competent a "plant person" as there is. He studies, and he practices. He embraces "new methods" as well as the "old" ways of dealing with problems. Call for Randy's solution for your question ... 713-212-KTRH (5874).
When it comes to advertisements for plants or gardening products that sound too good to be true, they probably are.
Years ago, when I wrote my second book, "Gulf Coast Gardening with Randy Lemmon," I included a section called "Beware the Sunday Supplement Ads." Now, that warning needs to be updated to include online offers and infomercials.
The ads that used to run in the Sunday newspaper inserts have today found "fertile ground" on websites and "fruitful" hours in late night TV — garden puns only slightly intended. All kinds of crazy claims and flat-out scams show up in those ads. There are plenty for weight loss and teeth whitening, but more and more are appearing for gardening products.
Just as in those Sunday supplement ads, Internet ads and infomercials can include ridiculous claims. Fruit cocktail trees that give you five different fruits year-round; grass that stays green year-round; turf plugs delivered by mail; trees that can grow over 10 feet in a year for instant shade. And the list goes on.
Here's the latest one: A grass seed that needs only two mowings and one fertilization per year. I'm not naming any company because I don't want any defamation lawsuits. Anyway, I can't really disrespect the seed because it's actually for a cool kind of grass with some interesting credentials. But the simple fact is it's a Kentucky bluegrass, which won't work in Texas. Period.
My problem is actually with the ad. They don't mention it's a Kentucky bluegrass, and because of that omission, they're not telling potential customers that it is regionally specific. In my opinion, there should be some kind of disclaimer (small print) that says something like, "Works best in states north of the Mason-Dixon line."
Instead, their quite-remarkable advertising claims easily catch the attention of those uneducated about grass varieties applicable to Houston and the Gulf Coast. Seed for Kentucky bluegrass, fescue or rye is just not going to work on a year-round basis in Houston. And, by the way ... if an informercial or Internet advertiser is unwilling to reveal the specific seed they're selling, you can surmise it's a blend or new variation of those three seeds.
So ... in this paragraph I'm going to make you an instant expert on grass in Houston. We can only grow three kinds of grass year-round along the Gulf Coast: St. Augustine, Bermuda and Zoysia. We can over-seed with rye grass in the winter, and we can only seed Bermuda grass in the spring and summer. All other grasses have to be started using pieces of solid sod. If you commit all that to memory, you can authoritatively answer the questions I've been getting for weeks about the Internet ad and similar late-night infomercials for grass with mowing and fertilizer needs that sound unbelievable.
Remember what you've always been taught - if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is!!!