Traditional growing seasons for fruit and vegetables are being replaced by all year-round demand for garden produce, which is partially fuelled by climate change.
That’s the view of Tim Robinson, manager of Love Plants, the specialist plants centre at award-winning caravan dealership Salop Leisure in Shrewsbury.
Love Plants has enjoyed a record first quarter of 2017, with sales around 30 per cent up on the same time last year. He believes the mild weather and changing seasons has had major impact on the business.
“There used to be specific growing seasons for plants, such as summer bedding and vegetables, but that has gone now,” said Mr Robinson. “In the past, you wouldn’t put your summer bedding out until mid-May but that has changed, probably because of the weather.
Tim Robinson with grafted vegetables
“The modern gardener doesn’t adhere to the traditional growing seasons. They want the plants as soon as they are ready if the weather is good. For example, we would normally wait another month before planting tomatoes, but we are selling them already. Gardeners want produce year-round and we seem to be filling that gap.”
Reflecting on Love Plants’ record start to the year, he said the hard work put in by staff in previous years was now bearing fruit.
“We spend a lot of time helping customers and giving them advice and I think that has resulted in a lot of referrals,” he added.
“Most garden centres used to give customer service like we provide, but many have now moved away from supplying traditional gardeners’ needs in favour of giftware and franchised clothing.”
Popular with gardeners this spring are grafted tomatoes, chili peppers, sweet potatoes, aubergines and cucumbers. Grafted plants have been popular with commercial growers for some time because they produce more fruit, grow vigorously and are less susceptible to pests and disease.
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