Doreen Fogle: It may be a little harder to find the plants you want
Last spring nearly everyone became a home gardener. There are two basic reasons. During the COVID-19 lockdowns people spent a lot more time at home and had the time to spend on improving their home gardens and landscapes. And with the economy slowed down for safety, grocery store shelves became frighteningly empty, prompting a desire to grow more food at home.
Spending time on home landscapes created a huge demand for plants from nurseries. Growers of nursery plants saw their stock depleted, to the point where some started to sell into the next year’s stock. That means some were selling plants when they were much smaller than they’re usually sold at.
So in 2021, with very low nursery stock supply, and while the gardening surge has persisted, demand is outpacing supply and retail nurseries and garden centers are not able to get all that they want and need.
But we are in better shape than Texas. They’ve had a double whammy this year with both the COVID-19 related depletion of available nursery stock plus the deep freeze that killed many landscape plants in the ground as well as in the nurseries that supplied them. Plant growers in Texas are trying to get plants from outside regions like the West coast. But those growers are already stretched to supply their regular customers.
Seed inventories became depleted last spring when lockdowns started and grocery shelves started emptying. People were anxious to do what they could to grow their own food.
Seeds sales always go up during troubling economic times. Johnny’s Seeds in Maine, an online seed company, reported a 270% increase in orders in one week in mid-March last year. This year they cut off home gardeners from buying so they could supply their farmer customers first. They opened up to home gardeners for just a few days here and there so far this spring.
People often think of nursery plants and seeds as merchandise that is easily replenished. But they are living and it takes time to create the products, especially the bigger ones. The plants need to grow and seeds come after a full season of growth. With the surge in demand like over the past year, and sources depleted, the growers are set to continue and even up their production to accommodate. It just takes time.
So, look for the plants you need. Local nurseries are working hard to find them for you. But know you may need to wait a bit. The plant growers are working hard to fairly distribute their stock to their retail customers. This means there is a lot of uncertainty as to what and when many things will be available. Be patient and soon we’ll have what we want.
Annuals and vegetables are readily available, and business is booming. They grow faster.
One thing I like is that more people have become more involved in their landscapes and many have increased their own food production at home. To me, working with the land, however small, growing food, and involving children is a big step toward more sustainable living.
I hope this trend continues. Perhaps we have learned a lesson that our usual plenitude is not infallible.
Seeking plants from local businesses first helps keep local economies stronger. (Did you know that every dollar spent at a local business is usually spent 6-15 times before it leaves the community?) It also helps customers get what they’re looking for, and with items like plants, those that are most appropriate for our area.
So be patient, plants are coming.
Doreen Fogle is a landscape designer and writer in Nevada County. More of her articles can be found on her website mydelightfulgardens.com and she can be reached at email@example.com.
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