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Kialla nursery adapts, grows in popularity amid lockdown measures

By Ed McLeish

As the saying goes, gardening is cheaper than therapy - and you get free tomatoes too.

Shepparton residents are taking the saying seriously, as nurseries and DIY warehouses are selling out of vegetable seedlings.

Gardening and vegie patch-growing appears to be the new hobby across many Shepparton households, as the spread of COVID-19 is implementing new self-isolation and physical distancing measures.

And as lockdown laws tighten their grip on the Shepparton community, Kialla nursery Gardens on Archer is considering adapting its operations.

Gardens on Archer owner Michelle Michel said her nursery had sold out of vegetable seedlings; and as the Federal Government tells Australians not go to out unless necessary, she was starting a drive thru service and considering delivering her goods locally.

"Starting Saturday, we will be operating a drive thru service for our customers where they can drive into the nursery," she said.

"We will pick their items for them and bring the eftpos machine to the car window for payment should they wish to limit their contact with others at this time."

Mrs Michel said as of next week, the nursery will have free delivery in the local area for purchases over $30 - which was all dependent on any restrictions that may or may not make the transaction possible.

“We’re looking at lots of different options in the situation," she said. 

“Obviously someone has to go in and water the plants, so if that’s the case we’ll deliver them locally.”

Mrs Michel - who owns the nursery with her husband Ben - said her customers were mainly buying vegetable products, but that they should consider buying indoor plants too.

“They’re really good for air quality – I’m not going to suggest the plants prevent anything, but they’re really good to have inside,” she said.

Mrs Michel said gardening was beneficial to mental health.

“If we all get isolated within our home, getting our hands dirty connects us to the earth,” she said.

“It may feel like the world is coming to an end and we can’t control anything, but gardening gives us a responsibility and a sense of accomplishment and control.”

When it came to her top recommendations for the autumn period, Mrs Michel said brassicas would grow quickly.

“I’d recommend growing broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, and some other greens while there’s warmth around,” she said.

“Lettuces grow quickly, as well as spinach, kale, peas and broad beans - they are all fine this time of year.

“Onion and beetroot are fine to plant, but you won’t be harvesting them.”

Gardens on Archer will have more vegetable seedlings next week.

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