Gardens bloom under lockdown with record demand for seeds | Environment

Although the world may seem a little gray at times, at the moment, the blockade has at least allowed some people to turn green and inject colors into their gardens.

Britain is flourishing – at least in one sense – with record demand for seeds, and dolphins, hollyhocks and hydrangeas are having their moment in the sun.


O Seed Cooperative, which is owned and managed by its members, said orders were up to six times higher than a year ago. Meanwhile, the Royal Horticultural Society recorded a five-fold increase in the number of queries on its website during the block.

David Price, the cooperative's managing director, said: "We had good stock levels, but many more are running out."

Due to "exceptional demand" at a time when the number of employees is low due to blocking, the company is limiting customers' time on its website, with online sales that can only take place in a two-hour window every Sundays at night.


Price welcomed the boom, but warned that current demand could mean that supply is limited in the coming years. "We are running multi-year production schedules so that it can become a real problem in a few years, when the seed supply has not had time to replenish," he added.

In Scotland, wildflower seed specialists Kabloom, popular for its "seeds," says it has seen its sales soar tenfold since the end of March. Its plantable, compostable, starch-based containers, designed to explode on impact on the ground, are full of compost and seeds.


Pea seedlings grow in pots. Photo: Jean Williamson / Alamy

Meanwhile, in the Dyfi Valley, in the middle of Wales, sisters Tala Sutton, eight, and Sirena, five, became part of a community scheme to grow more flowers. "I like to watch the plants grow," Tala told the BBC. "I can't wait to see the size of my sunflower". Sirena added: "It is good to plant seeds and wait for flowers and food".

People around the world are turning to gardening as a relaxing and familiar hobby, which also lessens concerns about food security, as blockages delay the harvest and distribution of some crops. Sales of fruit and vegetable seeds are not only increasing in the UK, but have increased worldwide.

In the USA, Jaime Calder, magazine editor, explained how she gave up gardening after moving from Illinois' fertile soils to dusty Texas, but the coronavirus changed her mind.


Calder and his family of five planted cabbage, chard, onions, blackberries, watermelons and peppers this year, expanding their garden while hanging at home during the pandemic.


A woman plants seeds in her vegetable garden in the village of Gorki, Russia.

A woman plants seeds in her vegetable garden in the village of Gorki, Russia. Photo: Vladimir Smirnov / Tass

"It's supplementary gardening," said Calder. "There is no way that this could support a family of five. But we are expanding, so we can try to avoid the store a little more in the coming months."

Meanwhile, the Russians are isolating themselves in out-of-town chalets with plots of land, a traditional source of vegetables in difficult times since the Soviet era, and roofing farms are planned in Singapore, which relies heavily on food imports.

"Planting some potatoes can be a big revelation for a child," said Guy Barter, chief horticulturist at the Royal Horticultural Society, who was inundated with requests for advice on his website. Backyard gardeners are planting potatoes in trash bags, he said.

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