I anxiously wait, watching the clock, finger poised over my mouse, ready to click at a moment’s notice. Sweat starts to form on my brow, and my heart starts to race as the moment approaches. I countdown the minutes as if watching a shuttle launch, 5..4..3..2..1. The sale is live! My fingers fly like they are independent of my body, clicking, and scrolling at lightning speed. I had done my homework and knew exactly what I was going for; this was no time for casual browsing. Within minutes, all of my items are in my virtual cart, and I am checking out, credit card at the ready. “Order Confirmed” flashes on the screen, and I let out a sigh of relief. I got my seeds, every packet I wished for, and they would soon be on their way. I had survived the seeding frenzy…this time.
Since the pandemic started a few years ago, there has been a massive upswing in people’s interest in gardening. More gardeners than ever are growing, whether out of concern for food security or a desire to have a hobby they can do at home. I also think people are craving beauty and hope at this time of uncertainty, something that growing flowers can often provide. It is exhilarating to see so many people discovering the benefits of having a garden. However, one of the side effects of this new movement is that seed companies were utterly overwhelmed by the increased demand for their seeds. This demand, paired with new safety protocols for the employees due to COVID and supply chain delays, led to shortages in the available seed.
There is no shortage of seed per se, but instead, seed companies are struggling to get the seeds packaged and made available to sell. And operating with fewer employees due to safety protocols makes it virtually impossible to catch up. This situation led to a bit of a seeding frenzy, especially in the early days of the pandemic. People were anxious to get their hands on packets of seeds, and others stockpiled what they could find. As a result, seed companies sold out quickly early in the growing season, leaving many gardeners disappointed.
Growing fads have also played a factor in this frenzy. Instagram and other social media outlets have made flowers such as dahlias, sweet peas, and ranunculus more popular than ever. So when your favorite flower farmers announce a seed or tuber sale, you know it’s going to be like the gardener’s Hunger Games! Except contestants are battling to see who takes home the ultimate prize-a coveted packet of seeds. It reminds me of when I was a kid and certain toys like Cabbage Patch Kids or Tickle Me Elmo was all the rage. People would tackle and trample one another to get their hands on one for the holidays, but this time, people trample one another virtually with a computer and a mouse.
I have been a part of many of these seeding frenzies. I’m just as excited as the rest to try the latest and greatest varieties. Unfortunately, I feel like I’m being plunked into a tank of hungry piranhas during these sales, and I’m the main course! So I was over the moon when I secured two ranunculus varieties that sold out within three minutes during one online sale. Yes, literally three minutes! And with a worldwide sweet pea seed shortage due to unprecedented weather that decimated plants and lowered seed production this past growing season, I felt like I hit the lottery when the four packets I ordered arrived in my mailbox.
The dahlia craze is unbelievable. It’s as if tubers are gold bricks from Fort Knox! When flower farmers announce a tuber sale, it creates a frenzy like no other. Gardeners set their alarms, camp out at their computers, and cross all their fingers and toes, hoping they will get the varieties on their list. Like groupies waiting for concert tickets, we gardeners hold our ground and hope that we will be among the lucky ones. But, unfortunately, the popular ‘must-grow’ varieties sell out within seconds, and all others will be gone within hours. I’ve seen farms sell out of their entire season’s worth of offerings in 24 hours or less.
These frenzies can bring even more anxiety and frustration when the sheer number of shoppers overwhelms the servers, causing lag and checkout issues. I know gardeners who thought they had secured their varieties only to have them taken out of their virtual cart by another shopper or lost because of a checkout glitch.
During these times, when the frenzy is at its peak, it can be frustrating to miss out on the varieties you want to grow. But, I’d like to remind people to be kind to the growers, farmers, and seed companies that are working around the clock to provide those seeds, tubers, and corms. They want to get their products into our hands as much as we do, and they have dealt with the same frustrations. So, instead of directing anger at them, show them appreciation and grace. We, gardeners, need to nurture these relationships as we nurture our plants-with care and respect. Be kind to each other, fellow gardeners.
As for me, I am happy to say that I have secured all of my seeds, tubers, and corms for the upcoming growing season. Phew, I survived-no more seeding frenzies for this gardener! Of course, that is until the next sale announcement comes to my inbox.