Plants are susceptible to the virus too

by Bill Bush

HESSTON—Except for the addition of curbside pickup and customers maintaining distance from each other, Stone Creek Nursery is one of the few businesses that hasn’t seen significant changes. At least not yet.

With the arrival of spring, and Easter a few days away, Stone Creek is on the edge of its busy season, which runs from mid-April until June. And while sales have been good so far, owner Kirby Martin knows that it’s a critical time for his business.

“This is our busiest time of the whole year,” Martin said. “If it’s not good then the rest of the year is pretty tough.”

So far they’ve sold more perennials and vegetables than in past years. In fact, the nursery is having trouble keeping up with vegetable sales.

“We’re growing them as fast as we can,” Martin said.

He said with people being at home they’re wanting to plant a garden and try new things. He’s had a lot of new gardeners come through.

The perennial sales are up because with people being at home, they want more color.

“They need something to do; something to brighten up their day,” Martin said. “When they walk outside they want to see some color.”

Martin expected people to feel discouraged, but said that so far his customers have been positive and in really good moods.

Virus protection isn’t anything new for Stone Creek as viruses can spread to plants too. According to Martin, the greenhouses are well vented so the air gets through really quickly. Workers wash their hands a lot and they frequently sterilize pruning shears, scissors and other gardening equipment.

“We’re always worried about viruses and stuff,” Martin said. “People think this is something new, but for me, people that grow plants, we’ve always been worried about it. We’re always very careful about that kind of stuff anyway.”

Martin has owned Stone Creek Nursery for twenty years. He grew up on a farm and enjoyed taking care of and growing plants.

“It’s fun for me to see these little tiny, tiny little seedlings or these little plugs, and the whole goal for me is to try to get them all in full color by mid April, you know, so it’s kind of a timing issue and how to heat them up, cooling down, hold them a little bit,” Martin said. “It’s just fun when they’re all in full color, you walk into a greenhouse and it’s just like, wow. Beautiful. That makes it all worthwhile.”

So far Stone Creek has had quite a few people take advantage of the curbside pickup. Customers can fill out an online form (though Martin hasn’t gotten all of their inventory listed on the nursery’s website yet), or they can call in their order (620-327-0440). Martin said it’s a little more work for the employees to find all of the right plants and the right colors, but they don’t mind.

Martin said it’s been great and whole new side of customer service they hadn’t experience before.

The nursery is open from 9-5, M-F, and 9-3 on Saturdays. Curbside pickup is available from 10-4, M-F and 10-2 on Saturdays. Martin said they limit the curbside pickup because the first and last hours of each day tend to be the busiest. He asked that customers give them at least an hour after placing their order before picking it up.

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