The hope that a real spring will someday come is keeping Manitoba gardeners dreaming of digging in the earth on sunny days.
Kevin Twomey, who runs T & T Seeds at 7724 Roblin Blvd. with his brother Brian, said the severely cold winter has cut their mail-order seed orders.
"They’re down by about five per cent, and retail purchases are down by about 10 per cent," he said.
Vegetable seed sales have risen as more people want to grow their own produce, Twomey said.
Gardeners are choosing the basics, along with many varieties suitable for growing in containers, as they look for easy ways to cultivate healthy food.
"People are growing the vegetables they like best," Twomey said.
Even though snowbanks are physically blocking the front entrance at D.J. Paterson Garden Centre at 4894 Portage Ave. in Headingley, owner Don Paterson said he, wife Joan and their staff are sticking to their regular annual schedule for ordering in and preparing thousands of seedlings to meet the spring demand.
"Our plants will be as good as ever," he promised.
"We’ve opened in the middle of March in other years," Paterson said, though he can’t predict this year’s opening day.
The continuing below-normal temperatures are resulting in higher heating bills for all local greenhouse owners, although Shelmerdine Garden Centre co-owner Nicole Bent said solar power is helping to keep tender seedlings growing in their greenhouses at 7800 Roblin Blvd.
After closing for an annual winter break, Shelmerdine reopened at the beginning of March, and Bent reports good sales as people attended their special events, such as an orchid and bonsai day on March 15.
"People just want to get out and see some flowers," she added.
"This is a great time of year to plan what you’re going to do in your garden," Bent said, adding that garden centre staff now generally have more time to answer questions and give advice.
Like the other local greenhouse operators, Bent knows the busiest weeks of May and June lie ahead. And by that time, the snowbanks may have melted.
Long winter no boon for snowmobile dealer
You know it’s too cold when normally hardy snowmobilers opt to stay indoors.
According to Headingley Sports Shop owner Jill Ruth, that’s the kind of winter it’s been.
"It did really affect our sales," she said, adding even though there was plenty of snow, the average number of snowmobiles they sell per winter didn’t take a jump.
She said this winter’s sales stand at about 100 machines, which is comparable to previous years.
However, she’s hopeful that people will be eager to hit the trails next winter after the first major snowfall.