Interest from first-time gardeners, demand for vegetables seeds surge during pandemic

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With the coldest part of the spring apparently behind us, Toronto garden centres are expected to be jammed this long weekend as gardeners round up supplies.

But they may be wheeling out plants and seeds that are more practical than pretty

Toronto garden centres are reporting a surge in interest growing vegetables and herbs, especially among first-timers.

“I think with this COVID-19 situation, a lot of people are insecure and they feel like they want to grow and have control over what they’re eating,” Michael Renaud, General Manager of Summerhill Nursery tells NEWSTALK 1010.

Renaud’s staff is fielding daily questions about anything edible: tomatoes, cucumbers, peppers, lettuce, onions, and basil.

At Fiesta Gardens, co-owner Dino Virgona thinks a desire to be more self-sufficient as well as pandemic boredom may be driving a new interest in planting.

“You’re definitely seeing a lot of new gardeners coming out, experimenting with new things, wanting to learn how to start,” Virgona says.

He gushes about the feeling of accomplishment from harvesting vegetables you’ve grown yourself.

Virgona and Renaud agree it’s safe to do at least some planting over the long weekend.

But Renaud recommends waiting a few more weeks for warmer temperatures to plant some more fragile items: tomatoes, sweet potato vines, basil, and impatiens.

Renaud says he’s had a lot of requests from Torontonians in cramped quarters looking to grow vegetables inside.

“You don’t really get good results indoors, it’s better if these things are outside. If you have an outdoor space you can grow a lot of vegetables in containers…very easily, and have good results.”

If you don’t have a balcony or other outdoor space, Renaud says you can grow lettuce and herbs inside provided sunlight can reach you plants.