The first official day of spring this year isn’t until March 20 at 3:37 a.m.
But if the cold weather in Alberta already has you thinking ahead to spring gardening — you’re not alone!
Many Edmonton shops have already received their stock of spring plants and seeds, as they anticipate another season of high demand.
Greenhouses and garden centres have ordered more edible supplies than usual, after record-setting sales and demand last year at the start of the pandemic.
Perry Stothart, general manager of Classic Landscapes in south Edmonton, said expectations are high this time around, with more people growing their own food.
“Seeds and herbs and gardening — vegetable gardening was massive last year,” Stothart said.
“I think we saw a return to maybe more tradition roots in terms of gardening — sort of enjoying that time in our yard.”
“We definitely have ordered more, last year supply ended up becoming an issue because people were responding to an increased demand sort of after the fact.”
Seed retailers and suppliers also expected 2020’s unprecedented demand to continue into this year’s growing season and prepared for it.
“That demand is increasing going into 2021,” said Fraser Hetherington, executive vice president of Stokes Seeds in Ontario. “We’re continuing to see many new home gardeners for the first time.”
He thinks demand is being driven by people wanting control over their own food supply, along with “a little bit of stockpiling due to fears of supply.”
But fear not, Hetherington said: they’re not running out of seed. Supply isn’t the challenge — it’s getting all the orders out the door.
Stokes recently added an afternoon shift to allow more orders to be processed, while also taking into account a need for physical spacing between employees.
Another Ontario-based supplier, William Dam Seeds, said demand has been up for months now. Flower and herb seed manager Connie Bijl said orders for this season started picking up more than usual back in November. January was also been very busy, Bijl said.
“People are at home, they’re looking for something to do,” she said. “We think that this year, people are getting used to the idea that shipping is slower than it was pre-pandemic.”
“We’re excited that so many people enjoyed gardening enough to come back.”
Back in Edmonton, Stothart said people are appreciating the mental benefits of gardening more these days.
“A lot of times we think about a fragrant rose but it’s more than that,” Stothart said. “Touching and working in the dirt, our bodies respond in a really positive way.”
Home Depot has also seen increased interest in live goods and gardening.
“This was something we saw last year, as Canadians spent more time at home through the pandemic,” Home Depot wrote in a statement to Global News.
“We expect to see this interest continue and so among many of our live goods categories that will have a larger assortment this season, we will have more seeds in our stores which should be available in the next couple of weeks, so that we’re ready for customers when spring hits across the country.”
A lot of green thumb Albertans have already started planting seeds indoors. Stothart said the general range is 60 to 90 days from planting to harvesting and that’s not only for veggies and garden seeds.
Stothart said people can start annuals and other plants indoors and then move them outside for the summer.
— With files from Jordan Snobelen, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter/Niagara This Week