Meet some of our employee-innovators, who turn good ideas into great products
Frank Oliver, with plans for the new GardenEase Kneeler™.
WE'RE a company of gardeners and employee-owners. That combination means that every one of us helps find solutions to the most vexing garden challenges. Like you, we've had plants in containers wither from drying out, fruits rot before they ripen, and gardens decimated by insects. So we're always searching for products that help our gardens thrive. When we can't find the ideal solutions, we invent them!
We have an entire team devoted to product design and development. Meet a few of our innovators:
Frank Oliver, our veteran product "imagineer," has been devising innovative solutions for more than 30 years. A mechanical engineer, he's also an avid gardener who tests dozens of creative growing ideas in his home garden every year. Frank was the driving force behind the Snip-n-Drip line of watering products, as well as the first-ever Melon and Squash Cradle. His latest "make it better" project is the ultra-stable, super-comfortable GardenEase™ Kneeler, which he designed with his 85-year-old mother in mind. It's perfect for gardeners who need a safe, reliable support. When he tested the final prototype, all Frank could say was, "Mom's going to love it!"
Cody McKibben, with the Pumpkin Pedestal
Product developer Cody McKibben, the newest member of our design team, graduated from Pratt Institute in Brooklyn, NY, with a bachelor's degree in industrial design. His first project at Gardener's Supply was designing a bigger version of our popular Melon and Squash Cradle. Customers asked for a support large enough to hold a pumpkin and ensure even ripening and no rot. Cody's solution is the elegant and functional Pumpkin Pedestal, which can be flipped to hold different sized pumpkins.
Cody started growing in containers on his balcony while at Pratt, so he is especially interested in small-space growing systems. "My favorite part of gardening is the gratification that comes when the freshest tasting herbs and veggies make their way from my planter to my dinner plate — that is, if they aren't already going straight to my mouth."
Cindy Goodenow, with her nemesis, a Japanese beetle
Cindy's Japanese beetle trap looks like a jumbo daffodil.
Buyer Cindy Goodenow visits trade shows around the world, looking for the latest solutions, including pest controls, raised bed innovations, composting tools, and ways to create bird- and bee-friendly backyards. An enthusiastic gardener for more than 25 years, Cindy is particularly interested in finding innovative pest controls. She's battled Japanese beetles in her own garden for years. When she couldn't find a decorative and effective trap, she collaborated with Cody to design the Everbloomin' Japanese Beetle Trap. "I love working with Cody; he has a good design sense and brings a fresh perspective."
Deborah Miuccio, with Snip-n-Drip soaker hose
Horticulturist Deborah Miuccio maintains our extensive test gardens. She also tests new products and coordinates our nationwide team of garden testers. She's the first to give new products the thumbs-up — or thumbs-down — based on her experience. She gives a big thumbs-up to the new Snip-n-Drip Pot and Planter Soaker System, which prevents potted plants from drying out. "I love how the system gives plants a slow, deep watering. It thoroughly hydrates the roots and saves water."
Other favorite innovations include our raised beds and raised-bed corners. "I use raised beds here and at home. Raised beds make weeding and amending the soil much easier, and neatly define the garden space." In her 2013 container gardening tests, Deborah combined coir with our new Easy Grow and Easy Bloom fertilizers. "They're my new favorite fertilizers. My flowers bloomed fabulously, and I got great harvests from the tomato plants. Easy Grow and Easy Bloom work really well with coir. It's my new go-to soil and fertilizer combination for pots and planters."
Brooke Sperling with some of the mini soaker hose that's part of the Snip-n-Drip Pot and Plant Soaker System
Recent years of unpredictable weather — especially dry spells — led buyer Brooke Sperling-Johnson to search for ways to help gardeners keep plants watered while conserving this precious resource. Two years ago, she introduced the original Snip-n-Drip Soaker System, which allows gardeners to create customized watering for multiple garden beds. Customers asked for more options, so last year Brooke added three new systems: for landscape plants, vegetable gardens and raised beds. This spring, knowing that one of the biggest challenges is keeping containers hydrated, she introduced the Snip-n-Drip Pot and Planter Soaker System. "It's nice to know that plants in containers across the country will thrive now, instead of wilting in dried-out soil," says Brooke. Other new watering innovations include ultra-lightweight Featherweight Hoses, as well as ergonomic Easy Squeeze nozzles and wands, which have front-pull levers that are four times easier to squeeze.
Liz Lawrence with a pair of Bug Me Not Convertible Pants
Like most gardeners, buyer Liz Lawrence loves being outdoors — but is frequently annoyed by mosquitoes and blackflies. And the threat posed by ticks carrying Lyme disease is never far from her mind. Tired of repeatedly slathering herself with smelly insecticides to ward off these pests, Liz spent six months developing our Bug Me Not gardening clothes. With insect-repelling design and powerful Insect Shield® technology, they provide effective protection from ticks, mosquitoes, blackflies and no-see-ums. The Bug Me Not Shirt has a stand-up collar to keep insects out, and the Bug Me Not Convertible Pants have knitted Tick Nix cuffs that prevent ticks from crawling up your legs. Both are treated with Insect Shield, which is built right into the fabric — you won't feel or smell it. Protection lasts for about 70 launderings. "Now you can get invisible protection just by putting on your clothes!" says Liz.