Plants in high demand

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In demand...Evandale Gardens product manager Cam Thomson (left), assistant general manager Jess Lowen and general manager Nathan Piggot in Invercargill. PHOTO: LAURA SMITH

IT began with toilet paper and sanitiser- now demand across Southland and Otago has moved to cabbage, broccoli, cauliflower and silverbeet.

Public demand for winter vegetable seedlings was not quite at panic levels but Evandale Gardens, of Invercargill – the south’s biggest wholesale producer of young vegetable plants – was flooded with orders from retailers in the week since Covid-19 really hit the headlines.

General manager of plant production Nathan Piggott said the “big surge” had never been seen at this time of year.

“[On Thursday last week] alone, it was five times the amount of vegetable seedlings that we shipped out to our retailers and customers.

“That home, self-sufficiency demand has skyrocketed.”

Mr Piggott said even lettuces were selling quite well and berry fruit plants and rhubarb were “moving at higher rates than normal”.

Evandale supplies, among others, Mitre 10, the Warehouse and Nichol’s garden centres.

Evandale and Nichol’s owner Allan Dippie said he saw the same thing happen during the global financial crisis.

“People tend to get back to nature; they get back to gardening.

“It becomes a safe place and a haven for many people. Certainly, that’s our experience.”

Although sales for the week to Thursday were four times those of the previous week, Mr Dippie did not believe gardeners were panicking.

“We’re not having toilet paper-type fights in garden centres.”

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