So many new and stuck-at-home gardeners are planting “pandemic gardens” this spring that some of the nation’s biggest seed-sellers have temporarily stopped taking new orders.
Bucks County’s Burpee Seeds, Wisconsin’s Jung Seed Co., and Oregon’s Territorial Seed Co. are among those suspending new orders to help their overwhelmed and shortened staffs catch up.
Johnny’s Selected Seeds of Maine is still taking orders from commercial farmers but not taking orders from home gardeners until April 28.
Even those taking orders, such as South Carolina’s Park Seed Co., Maine’s Pinetree Garden Seeds, and California-based Renee’s Garden Seeds, are warning about shipping delays that are turning the usual two- and three-day turnaround times into 10 to 14 days.
“We’re seeing unprecedented levels of customer interest,” said Park Seed spokeswoman Kelly Funk. “We started to see an uptick in late February, but it exponentially increased the first week of March. … It was like someone flipped a switch.”
“We are experiencing an unprecedented huge surge in the number of orders we receive daily” Renee’s Garden Seeds founder Renee Shepherd told customers in a website message. “As a result, we are now out of stock many popular varieties. Nationwide, all home garden seed companies are experiencing the same issues.
“Most of our staff is working from home, and we have established cautionary workspace safety measures at our warehouse. This combination of the sheer volume of orders and emergency procedures means you can expect it will take about seven business for us to fill and pack your order. Our shipping carriers are also taking significantly longer to deliver orders to customers, so please allow seven to 10 business for delivery.”
Though companies are reporting sellouts of particular varieties, there’s no seed shortage.
“Inventory is still coming in,” Funk said. “It’s just taking longer to fill all of the orders.”
Neither are there signs of seed hoarding going on.
“We watch closely for that,” said Funk, adding that almost all of Park Seeds’ orders have been for typical home-garden amounts. “We’re just seeing a lot of new customers.”
“Nobody hoards seeds,” Burpee Chairman George Ball told CBS News’ Moneywatch.
Seeds racks are reasonably well stocked at local stores, including hardware stores and box stores that were exempted from the state’s shutdown rules, as well as several garden centers that got waivers to open.
“We’re having difficulty getting everything we want, but we have seeds … and more coming in,” said Robert Kadas, the new owner of Highland Gardens in Lower Allen Twp., which got a state waiver to remain open.
Kadas says vegetable seeds have been particularly in demand as many food-spooked social distancers are starting edible gardens for the first time. He says cool-season edible transplants also have been in high demand and limited supply.
Despite limited hours and less foot traffic, Ashcombe Farm and Greenhouses in Monroe Twp. has sold more seeds so far than in a normal season, said co-owner Deb Shearer.
“We’re out of a few different ones, but we have seeds,” she said. “Seeds and soil. That’s what everyone wants. At least we’re selling something.”
As with Highland, edibles are the especially hot ticket at Ashcombe.
Staff at both the Lowe’s store in Hampden Twp. and the Home Depot in Lower Paxton Twp. also reported plenty of seeds, although they’re “going fast.”
- Read our compendium of links to 22 PennLive articles of help to first-time gardeners