A couple of catch words in the media these days are “buy local”. Well, what does that look like and how does that affect bedding plants and perennials?
Some see ‘local’ as anything grown in the entire country of Canada and others see it as being grown within 1 day’s truck ride. If a one day truck ride is the definition, then that makes Surrey, BC, local. But is it really? For plants to get from southern BC or even from southern Alberta, they have to be packed, boxed, and transported here. During this time, they are deprived of light, sometimes heat, and living in a damp, dark environment begins to set off a whole set of metabolic issues for plants. Beyond that, and even more importantly, the plants experience a major change in growing environments from where they were cultivated in terms of factors such as altitude, humidity, sun intensity, and temperature. All of these influences can, in live plant talk, lead to what we call ‘shipping shock’. Shipping shock is a bit like jet lag in people – it takes a while to readjust to the new location. For plants, this adjustment period can slow its development by as much as 3 to 6 weeks. This time period lag can have a huge impact on their development in your garden, and in Alberta time is major. In tests done in our gardens, the exact same plants in the same sized pots grown in our Edmonton climate from the beginning out performed those from other areas (a day’s drive or more away) by as much as 50% by the end of the summer.
This difference in climates early from where a plant starts its life slows the ultimate development of the plant because it takes so much time to recalibrate, so to speak, which we don’t have here in the Edmonton area, to the lower humidity and lower temperatures in spring.
We encourage you to experience the difference.