As mentioned on the front page of this site we are part of The Strawberry Store, LLC. This business has been evolving for nearly 30 years. At first it was called “Fragaria House”. Then it became “Fraises des Bois”. In 2009 we incorporated “The Strawberry Store”.
Mike is the one who had an interest in strawberries from many years ago. He started growing growing strawberries in a greenhouse for out of season fruit sales when there was no market. His search for varieties that would grow in a greenhouse lead him to other species including alpine and musk strawberries. His background in Entomology gave him some of the tools to deal with pest issues in greenhouses and the need for pollinators. His background in pesticide research convinced him that it was necessary to find pesticides that could be used to produce organically grown crops. Today, we do not use “hard”, toxic pesticides. We are not certified organic but we use methods and products used by organic farmers.
For many years Mike collected, grew and sold seeds and plant cultivars of Fragaria vesca, woodland and alpine strawberries. He also started reintroducing “lost” heirloom strawberries of several species including hybrids strawberries.
In 2015 Maureen joined the business after an illustrious career in the IT field. Her interest is in herbs so we added a limited line of herbs. That is when Garden Plugs was “born”. We needed a name more in line with a varied line of horticultural plants.
In the past, the focus of the business was primarily on retail product sales similar to other online retailers. We grew and sold strawberry plants in typical 3 and 4″ pots and sold them at retail prices. This went on for quite a few years. When shipping costs started escalating it became clear that there was a need for a change. Customers were not happy that their shipping cost was often close to the same as the cost of the plants.
For years we searched for answers. It seems that here in the U.S. there isn’t much interest in changing the methods or cost of shipping plants. For years we knew that Europeans were using plastic clam shells and blister packs to ship plants. It took a lot of soul searching and a leap of faith to import blister packs from Holland. It was and is expensive. It was difficult to decide on standardized product sizes and the number of plants per unit. In late 2015 a pallet of blister packs arrived. At the same time we were growing plants as plugs to fit these packs. This experience convinced us that this is the way of the future. We had no complaints of damaged plants during the spring of 2016.
All of this led us to focus on a new part of the market, customers who want to grow their own food. Many customers found our strawberry products and have been so pleased with the flavor of the fruit and the economical price both for the plugs and for shipping. The same was true for herb customers. Our first season, the spring of 2016, focused on an assortment of culinary herbs. We are now test marketing other herbs and assortments. We are excited about the fall of 2016 and the spring of 2017.
Visit our store to see what we’re offering. We encourage you to contact us with ideas for strawberry or herb products that you would like to grow. Also, provide feedback on the plants you receive and their delivery. We cannot get better unless we get input from you, our customers.