SASKATOON -- Saskatoon gardening stores say they’ve had a busy year so far and are seeing a significant increase in garden seed sales during the COVID-19 pandemic. 

“It’s been very, very hectic with garden seed and garden-related items. Everybody seems to be wanting to plant a garden this year,” said Derek Bloski, general manager of Early’s Farm and Garden Centre.

Bloski said this has posed some challenges at times because of the quantity of seed they’re going through. 

The store has had to reorder earlier than it typically would and has had to bring in extra staff to help with packaging and preparing the seeds for customers, he said. 

Bloski said his store has the largest selection of seeds in the province, ranging from beets and zucchini to cucamelons. 

“We seem to be selling a lot of things like kale this year. Strawberry seed is another one that’s been very popular...We sell the traditional stuff too like potato and onions. The interest in those has been extremely strong this year.” 

Bloski said he’s seen more and more people interested in gardening over the years, but that COVID-19 has really accelerated that this year with people looking for things to do at home. 

“They’re wanting to have a little control over their food source and ensuring they have a food supply. It can be a great new activity for people. It can be a continued activity for those that have planted through the years but maybe want to grow a bigger garden this year.” 

Early’s Farm and Garden Centre has been open throughout the pandemic as it is considered an essential service. 

Bloski said there are often lineups out the door on weekends. 

He adds that the store’s online sales have grown 10 to 20 times what it typically is at this time of year. 

“People were ordering in bunches. It forced us to adjust our hours because we couldn’t keep up with the day to day stuff, and then with the 200 to 300 online orders we were receiving a day.”

Lee Krahn, owner of Lakeshore Garden Centre in Saskatoon, said her shop has also been busier than usual this year, with a high demand for not only seeds, but all gardening products. 

“Everything is selling out. Every kind of plant, tomato. There’s been a lot of interest in gardening this year. Lots of new gardeners. Demand of all products has been extensive and we’re very low on inventory but we’re trying hard to keep up.”

Lakeshore Garden Centre is a family-run business that has been open since 1936. 

Krahn said the store served people in Saskatchewan throughout the Great Depression and is seeing a similar trend with sales now during COVID-19. 

“This is very similar in that people now have looked at this experience of what they’re going through with COVID and are starting to think ‘what can I grow in my own yard?’ I need to be home, I need to look at the space that I have. And there’s concerns for food security, so people have addressed that by looking to businesses like ourselves.” 

Krahn said she’s also encouraged to see so many new gardeners. 

“It’s incredible to see that this generation has picked up on gardening and hopefully they will continue with it in the future.”