May 2021
Here We Go! By Teresa McPherson

Welcome to our edibles issue, celebrating all the vegetables and other fresh goods your customers want — especially as the pandemic continues.

The above is not only a common phrase here in Steeler Nation, a.k.a., the Pittsburgh area, but also very fitting for these first few weeks of the spring season. As gardeners new and old are heading to garden centers to stock up on seeds, starts and soil (and other products that might not start with an s), it’s appropriate that this is our edibles issue, celebrating all the vegetables and other fresh goods your customers want — especially as the pandemic continues.

“People are gardening in part to make sure that there is enough food on the table during times of so much uncertainty,” says scientist Celina Gómez, University of Florida/Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences faculty member in environmental horticulture.

And not only are they growing them outside, but indoor gardens continue to grow in popularity as well. She recently co-hosted a webinar on new edible varieties and how home gardeners can grow them indoors. While those plants aren’t expected to produce enough fruits or vegetables for an entire family, “I think of them as both ornamental and edible crops, as they are typically grown for the pleasure of growing a plant — like most ornamentals — with the added benefit that they will produce a fruit or vegetable to be harvested and consumed, like most edible crops,” she said.

We’re highlighting some of the new home-garden crops you might want to add to your vegetable offerings — including some that your customers can grow inside on a sunny windowsill or counter.

Edible landscaping is another trend that’s getting more attention lately. Instead of dedicating a specific plot for a garden bed, many homeowners are incorporating edibles into their home landscaping or including fruit and vegetable varieties in containers with ornamentals. Here, Ball Horticultural Co.’s Katie Rotella explains how you can market your vegetable and herb offerings as elements in ornamental landscape designs.

And for those customers who might not have the time or desire to get their hands dirty in the garden, many independent garden centers offer fresh-picked produce in a farmer’s market, whether on site or in the local community. This month, I spoke with three such IGCs who went from selling their own produce on-site to establishing a community-supported agriculture (CSA) program. They explain how adding a CSA brought customers into their store during less busy times and allowed them to retain staff who may have normally been more seasonal. Click here to read more.

How have your spring sales been so far? Any new best-sellers flying off your benches? I’d love to hear about it! Drop me a line at [email protected]

Teresa McPherson

Teresa McPherson is the managing editor of Lawn & Garden Retailer. Contact her at [email protected]


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