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Gardening facing some growing pains

Booming in popularity since the start of the pandemic, gardening could be a victim of its popularity, as supplies of materials such as seeds, plants and related items may at times fall short of demand.

As last year’s surge continues and is joined by the likes of shipping delays at the border and more extreme weather south of it, supply is looking a little dicey at this point.

Whether you are a long-time green thumb enthusiast, or someone looking for a new hobby to take you outside this year, getting your order in early is key, says Jeremy Feenstra, owner of Floristerra Outdoor Living Centre in Elmira.

Christine Webb and the Woolwich Gardeners are ready for the upcoming planting season. [Sean Heeger]

“A couple of weeks ago we were really worried about it. There were some combining factors, obviously with COVID, things have been getting held at the border longer. I think it seems like certain flights too were having to get rerouted, and everything was going through the U.S. The U.S. had a cold snap, and your stuff was getting frozen, so we’ve definitely had our struggles this year trying to get product,” said Feenstra.

“What we encourage people to do is we have our website up and running right now open and… we’re opening for presales and stuff like that. So, probably in around a month we’ll have a better perspective on how it’s going to be. We [have just] got to see how this season, of course, plays out.”

Feenstra says thanks to some quick and early work on their part, they seem to have managed to stave off any potential shortages for the moment, however, he says things like soil and hanging baskets are still seeing delays and the potential is there to have shortages come up later in the season.

“We’ve been able to kind of fill our numbers, but I think when it comes to certain varieties, you’re not going to see it, because they’ve been substituted with something else. We were OK, but come gardening season, people [have] got to think ahead and that’s what we have to do as a business. We have to be far ahead because there’s so many delays, it’s just a lot harder to do business when there are certain things that you thought we would never be short on.”

Kathy Pearson, co-president of the Waterloo Horticultural Society, says even if there are shortages, she expects that the gardeners and nurseries will be able to work through the issue.

“If there were [to be] shortages the gardeners and the nurseries will be able to work through it. It’s early days, some of them have just opened for the season, so it’s early days, but I think that their plan is to have what they need to sell to us. And that’s what we hope. Last year, even some of the big box stores did have vegetable plants and plants available well into the season. There could be shortages for things, but I’m sure a lot of these independent businesses will be doing their utmost to make sure that they have a successful year because one bad year can be devastating for them,” said Pearson.

With the planting season not officially expected to get underway for another month or so, the potential for shortages could be worrying for some. However, Feenstra says their website allows for people to order ahead and have their plants held for them until they are ready to pickup for the season.

“We can hold stuff for people. I think that’s probably the most proactive things people can do and be kind and realize that we can’t control certain things. You might not see certain things this year, you might not see things for years. We just don’t know.”

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