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Early spring weather and pandemic behind surge in demand at garden centres

Reference: CTV News

BARRIE, ONT. -- After a week of double digit temperatures, coinciding with a stay-at-home order, many are turning their attention to gardening.

It was time to get growing according to farmer Kevin Ward of Fernwood Farms near Stayner. He says spring came early and he’s already started planting in the fields.

"Some of the earliest planting in history on this farm was done this past weekend," said Ward. "I put some peas, sweet corn and radishes on the earliest date we’ve ever done because we had such a good stretch of warm dry weather I just went out and got it done."

The popularity of gardening exploded at the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic. Katie Sweatman is the co-owner of the Grey Heron Garden Centre in Meaford. She says it is seeing another jump in demand this spring.

"Within the last two weeks we’ve been surprised almost every day with how many people are interested in seeds and bulbs and getting their flowers started," Sweatman says.

It's still too early to be planting seedlings outside, but the increased demand is already leading to a supply shortage of some items, including vegetable seeds. Staff at Ritchie's Feeds 'N Needs & Garden Centre in Elmvale are surprised by how quickly their pansies sold out.

"They are looking for their annuals, they are looking for the perennials, they are looking for their veggies," said Laura Bateman. "Everyone was looking for pansies, which have come and gone."

Bateman says they don't expect to receive anymore shipments of pansies and they anticipate shortages of some vegetable seeds, fencing wire and chicken wire... Read More