March 22 08:27 AM

Area goes to seed

Record numbers turn to gardening to economize

Seed sales began climbing last year and are expected to continue an upward trend this season as people find ways to economize on food bills. photo by Catherine Minolli.

March 25, 2009
TRI-CITY AREA — The economy has a lot of properties in the area going to seed. And for some who are interested in the bottom line, the seedier the better.

Vegetable seed sales are on the rise both locally and across the country as people root out ways to reign in spending. Even the First Lady is getting in on the act. For the first time since Eleanor Roosevelt planted her World War II era 'Victory Garden,' Michelle Obama on Friday broke ground for a 'Kitchen Garden' on the White House grounds.

Whether it's to save money, get healthy or go green record numbers of people are getting this year's gardening project 'shovel ready.'

While it's too soon to turn the earth around here just yet, seed sales at Almont's Country Corner are brisk, says co-owner Lori Nash. That's because the time is now to get the seedlings going indoors, Nash adds.

"We can already tell that seed sales will be up," Nash says. "We started to see a difference last year with an increase, and this year it's obvious that a lot of people are planning gardens."

Nash says customers who've never grown vegetables before have come in search of seeds to give it a try. Others say they plan to expand their gardens to get higher yields.

"A majority of people are saying that they had some success last year and are going to make their garden bigger this year," Nash says.

Whether novice gardeners or experienced backyard growers, customers seem to like the option of buying as few or as many seeds as they can handle from the rows of jars and buckets filled with bulk seeds. Offering seeds in bulk is also as economical as it is practical, Nash says.

"You get more for your money that way," Nash says.

Noting that many people aren't aware that bulk seeds are available locally, Nash says those who do stop in are pleased with the option.

"It's almost double the amount for the money that you get with prepackaged seeds," she says.

Consumers can choose from a quarter-ounce, half-ounce, ounce or more of smaller seeds. Larger seeds like corn, beans and peas are sold by the pound.

A wide variety of vegetable seeds are offered in bulk, as are almost a dozen varieties of flower seeds.

For those who prefer prepackaged seeds, they can pick up offerings from Ferry Morse, Nash says.

The local trend to 'grow your own' is being mirrored across the country as well. USA Today reports that the nation's top seed producers reported an increase in sales last year and the numbers are expected to grow in the 2009 season.

Aside from the health benefits of fresh, home grown produce, The National Gardening Association says successful backyard gardeners can save as much as $500 annually by digging into the dirt this summer.

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