Make Money With a Tabletop Nursery This Year
This isn't a get-rich-quick scam. It won't make you millions of dollars either, and you are going to have to do some work.
For those of you who didn't bounce off after reading that, this is a good way to supplement your income. All you will need is a willingness to make a bit of a mess and four items:
- Nursery pots or a cheap alternative (such as disposable drink cups)
- Seed starting mix or well-sifted potting soil
- Well-balanced liquid fertilizer
When and How to Plant Your Seeds
I'm not going to be able to give you an exact time of year or season. It's going to vary depending on where you live. What I can advise you to do though is read the back of your seed packets. Whenever it says to start the seeds indoors, add two weeks to it. Do this in order to have some very mature and healthy looking plants when customers come to look at them.
(Example: The seed packet says to start your seeds four to six weeks before your last frost date. You will be starting yours six to eight weeks before your last frost date.)
How to Start Your Seeds
Fill your nursery pots of choice with very finely sifted potting mix or seed starting mix. Follow the seed planting depth on the back of your seed packet, but only plant two seeds per container. Then water them in well. No fertilizer is needed yet.
Caring for Your Seedlings
It doesn't matter what kinds of seeds you start. The guidelines and care that you have to provide for them are pretty much all going to be the same:
- Keep everything well watered, but not soggy. The soil having the consistency of a sponge that's been wrung out is what you want.
- Fertilize your plants only after they have grown their first true set of leaves. Use a well-balanced liquid fertilizer that is diluted to about half strength. Don't fertilize any more often than every two weeks. Giving them too much fertilizer is worse than not giving them any.
- Give your plants plenty of light. It doesn't take a big, expensive grow light system. Use the windows in your home to supply light, or purchase an inexpensive grow light.
- If any of the leaves on your plants die, be sure to remove them.
An Inexpensive Lighting Solution for Indoor Plants
These LED grow lights may seem a little small when they first come in. They have worked just fine for me for the last three years though, and I'd suggest buying them to anybody.
How to Price Your Plants
Figuring out a price for your plants is going to take a little bit of research. Go around to the places where they sell seedlings and plant starts to get an idea. You will probably end up somewhere between $3–$5 per plant.
Marketing Your Plants
- Use social media to your advantage when it comes time to market your plants. Post pictures of your plants next to some homemade signs—that include the prices—to your Facebook timeline. Ask your family and friends to share your posts.
- Use Facebook and other classified sites, like Craigslist, Offer Up, and Let Go, to advertise and sell them.
- Don't make it sound like a business on social media. If it does, they will take your posts down. It isn't a business anyway. You just got a little overzealous at seed starting time and didn't realize that you were going overboard. Now you want your kitchen table back, and to recoup your losses.
- Rent a stall at your local farmers market or flea market. Lots of foot traffic means lots of people seeing what you have for sale. Then possibly telling other people what you have for sale.
- Bundle your plants together for discounts. Let's say you chose to grow herbs, and you have three that go together like sage, rosemary, and thyme. Bundle the three herbs together and call it a "Windowsill Herb Garden," and knock a dollar off the price of all three together. Or you could offer a "Pick Three" promotion where the customer picks three plants and you give them a dollar off.
- Be creative with your promotions to get people's attention, and they will buy from you.
Planting in Succession to Keep Your Nursery Profitable
Always be aware of what should be going into the ground and when for your area. Let's say you just started selling lettuce, which is a cool weather crop. This is giving you space to move new set of starts into your nursery. You don't want to start more cool weather crops if you live in a warmer climate. You're going to want to fill those empty spots in your nursery with warm weather crops like cucumbers or squash. By the time you've sold out of your lettuce, your warm weather crops should be close to ready to sell. Then switch back to cool weather crops as fall grows near.
Some Bundle Ideas for the Road
That's really all there is to it. It's easy. You probably aren't going to make a full-time income selling plants off of your kitchen table, but you can make a good side income in your spare time. Here are some bundle ideas that sell pretty well for me.
- The salsa garden: jalapeños, tomatoes, and bunching onions
- The pickle garden: dill, cucumbers, and bunching onions
- The salad bowl garden: spinach, arugula, and romaine lettuce
- The pico garden: tomatoes, bunching onions, peppers, and cilantro
- The stir-fry garden: broccoli, snap peas, and cauliflower
Use your imagination and be creative. If you have special holidays or festivals in your area, take advantage of them, their names, and any traffic that they may bring your way.