Jill Bishop, seed and food producer and founder of Urban Tomato, said the gardening industry has seen a spike in popularity during the pandemic and she expects 2021 to be another busy year.
“Last year and this year, more people than ever have been interested in gardening,” she said. “I think a lot of people were worried about accessing food last year, so I think that really increased it, but then I think people realized the mental health benefits of being outside and putting your hands in the soil.”
And while it is still a bit early to do that, she said now is a good time to plan your plants so you’re ready to go when the warmer weather hits.
“It is the perfect time of year to look through the seeds you might already have, think about what you grew last year, and what you wish you had grown,” she said.
She said it’s also a good opportunity to purchase or pre-order your seeds and plants because a number of seed sellers have already noticed an increase in orders.
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That growing gardening trend is something that Victoria Whitney, general manager of Griffin’s Greenhouses in Peterborough, has also noticed. She credits the mental health benefits for a successful off-season and said house plants, especially, have seen a significant surge in popularity.
“Flowers really do make people happy. A lot of people have been greening-up their space,” Whitney said.
“Flowers tend to be a smaller purchase item that can really lift your spirits.”
And spirits are high at the greenhouse, with the doors recently opened for the season. She said it is a gesture that means even more this year.
“It’s a promise,” she said, “a promise of all of the good things coming.
“Just knowing that we are going to have spring, the bulbs will start popping up in the garden, the weather is going to be warmer, that we can get outside to start doing things, is really so exciting to me and to the people coming in. They are excited about that prospect.”
Until then, like Bishop, she said now is a great time to map out what types of flowers you want in your garden so you can easily navigate the greenhouse once things are in full bloom. She noted greys and yellows are the trending flower colours for this season.
If you still aren’t sure where to start, Bishop said a number of online gardening workshops are being offered by The Nourish Project and popular seed swapping event, Seedy Sunday, is also going virtual.
“There is still a chance online to talk with local producers, swap seeds and get in touch with the gardening community,” she said.
Bishop said sourcing local seeds could also mean a higher chance of success for your garden.
“It has the benefit that they adapt to where they are grown,” she said. “So for example, if I grow them in my backyard in Peterborough, they will thrive in yours.”
She said she is excited for another successful season, where more people are adopting a love and appreciation for gardening.
“It’s great to have that business, the growing interest in people sourcing local, to support those farmers and to really see the joy of growing their own food, but seeing how much work it really does take,” she said.
“It’s a balance between growing your own and understanding your food system a bit better.”