Do you sell your seedlings?

texandana(8a)February 19, 2012

Does anyone grow seedlings for a few weeks or so and then sell them to people who dont want to wait for germination? I'm really enjoying the germinating process and I am now considering starting a very large number of seeds and posting them for sale on craigslist.

For those of you who do this, how long do you let them grow before selling and how much do you charge? I imagine some plants are worth more money than others such as tomatoes because they produce more?? Times are tough right now so I'm always looking for ways to make extra money :)

What about selling your harvests? I noticed alot of you are growing tons of plants. What do you do with all of your harvests?

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ralleia(z5 Omaha, NE)

I don't sell mine.

Each state has licensing and inspection requirements if you want to run a plant nursery. I investigated the requirements here in Nebraska, and decided I'd rather just give my extra seedlings away to friends and neighbors.

It's the same reason I give away my fresh, TRUE free-range chicken eggs. I don't want to run into all the entanglements of regulation.

Some people do it anyway and try to fly under the radar. That might work as long as no one is paying too much attention.

    Bookmark   February 19, 2012 at 8:47AM
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Thanks Ralleia! I never would have imagined that there would be regulations for selling the seedlings. Harvests, yes, because its consumable. I might check into the Texas laws and see if its something worth doing.

    Bookmark   February 19, 2012 at 8:56AM
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i sell seedlings/plants at the farmer's markets at which i sell produce as well as at a couple of different plant sales/festivals early in the growing season. people buying seedlings will generally want them of a size such that they can be planted soon after purchase (whether this is actually optimum for the plants or not).

    Bookmark   February 19, 2012 at 9:38AM
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digdirt2(6b-7a No.Cent. AR HZ8 Sun-35)

Yes, we are a nursery business selling transplants at both local farmer's markets and stores. But one doesn't sell "seedlings". Seedlings are just sprouted plants not yet big enough for transplanting to their growing location. You sell transplants or plants that are the proper size, hardened off, and ready to be planted in the garden.

So yes there is a wide range of local market/county/state regulations. You can learn more about of of this and pricing guidelines over on the Market Gardeners forum here.


    Bookmark   February 19, 2012 at 10:04AM
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natal(Louisiana 8b)

Whoa girl! Isn't this your first attempt at gardening? I'd concentrate on that for the time being.

I always have extra tomato plants and offer them to neighbors for free. In the past I've put them curbside with a sign saying help yourself.

    Bookmark   February 19, 2012 at 11:03AM
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I give away everything from transplants to fresh vegetables, & eggs as well, mostly to family, friends & neighbors. Used to put(free)fresh vegetables on a table at the end of my drive, but I was forced to stop due to some folks that would stop & load up everything on the table, even though I had a sign asking everyone to be kind & take a few, leave a few............... Hated to see it ruined by a few "bad apples", but what can you do?

    Bookmark   February 19, 2012 at 11:55AM
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missingtheobvious(Blue Ridge 7a)

I've contributed extra tomato plants to the ongoing plant sale at the retirement community where my parents live. Staff and residents pay whatever they want; the proceeds go to scholarships for staff and their children.

I haven't looked into selling plants or produce at the local "parking lot" markets, but as there are many of those, I assume NC isn't one of the more regulating states.

    Bookmark   February 19, 2012 at 12:22PM
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I trade with some people and donate to local spring plant sales that benefit churches and youth groups and such. There's an annual sale at The Unitarian church where all the hardcore gardeners bring the plants they divide in spring. Before the sale even starts, we're out in the parking lot trading hostas and iris and ferns amongst ourselves. It cuts down on sales a bit, but it's a great kind of social gardening.

    Bookmark   February 19, 2012 at 1:42PM
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I give my exta plant starts away to friends and neighbors, take them to plant swaps and donate to the local community garden. Extra produce goes to friends and neighbors, the Senior Center, the Community House to feed the poor and the family shelter. There are always people who are willing to take anything I can't use.

    Bookmark   February 19, 2012 at 2:58PM
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I sell several acres of sweet corn every year at local markets. We put up enough to fill the freezers and give a few loads to the local food ministry, then the rest goes to market. Whatever extra we have of everything else after we can or freeze goes to either market or food ministry. I try to give back as much as I can, but college tuition is high and only going up!

    Bookmark   February 19, 2012 at 4:43PM
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donnabaskets(Zone 8a, Central MS)

There are a number of gardeners in our church. Several of us start seeds anyway, so we start all we have room for. Then the first week-end after our Average Last Frost Date we will put up a sign on the church property and sell (25 cents) or give away plants out of the back of our trucks or SUVs to anybody who stops by. Last year, our first year, we gave away 350 vegetable plants in less than two hours. It was great fun, and very gratifying to see who all was interested: little old ladies (widows), an entire motorycle club, the garage sale round robin and, of course, lots of folks from our church. We also handed out a sheet of instructions on growing tomatoes, peppers, and eggplants in pots. I started 150 tomato seeds this week.They are popping out of the ground as I type. We're going to have some flowers this year too.

    Bookmark   February 19, 2012 at 6:37PM
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jll0306(9/ Sunset 18/High Desert)

I love growing from seed, too. It's a repeat miracle with every season and every crop and one of the most joyful of winter activities. I started tomatoes every week from November onward the year I first put up a small hoop house.

Duh. I unwittingly created a monster. When the plants grew to transplant size the daytime weather was warm enough to harden them off but temperatures were still dropping below freezing at night. I was moving a few hundred plants in and out every morning and evening.

The hoop house was full, the sun porch was full, and so was the kitchen table and all of the chairs. By the time of the final potting up, I was leaving some plants out all the time, in translucent Sterlite storage tubs with snap-on tops that I put on religiously every night.

I thought I had found a wonderful cold frame alternative, but though it worked in the short run, it wasn't the best and greenest idea I've ever had. Bright sunlight turns cheapo plastic into that brittle, decaying plastic good only for land fill after a couple of seasons.

Fortunately, there is a year-round growing climate just down the mountain from me, and I had no trouble selling the many many extras for $2.00 each, via Craigslist and (later) with a For Sale sign on the street and a table in the yard.

I also enjoyed talking about tomatoes and their different habits and sharing growing 'tricks' with tomato novices or those who had never been able to get their plants to produce. I still have people ask when I am going to offer some more of those great tomato varieties again.

I would like to think I made a profit, but if you add labor to the costs of potting soil, pots, sterlite containers,and Christmas lights to keep the hoop warm during the coldest months I am sure I ended up in the hole. If I ever do it again, it will be with more foresight in the planning and a business license in hand!


    Bookmark   February 21, 2012 at 2:16AM
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moosemac(Z5 NH / Z3-4 ME)

I sell both plants and harvest on a miniscule scale. I usually raise 200-300 tomato plants for sale. I started several years ago on Craigslist and have a small database from those sales that I use to market the plants. The plants I sell are heirloom, 6-7 weeks old, in 4" pots, hardened off ready for planting. I charge $4 per plant. Before I start the plants, I send out an email with a list of varieties to my database asking what varieties folks would like this year. I plant according to demand. Plant pickup is at my house the 2nd-3rd Saturday in May from 9-11AM. I don't sell all the plants I raise. I keep 50-75 for myself, sell 100-150 and donate the rest to the senior citizens' gardening club in the next town.

I sell my harvest to a different database than my plant sales. Several years ago I had an exceptionally large harvest so I hosted a tomato tasting at work. There are 60 people in the office. The event was such a hit it has become an annual event. The tasting became the catalyst for my tomato harvest sales. Now when I have excess harvest, I email the office a list of what I have. Folks email me their orders and pick up is the next day. (I cleared this with my boss BEFORE starting.) My tomatoes are heirloom, raised organic and I charge $4-5 per pound and always sell out. I keep enough harvest to give to my elderly relatives on a fixed ncome. They truly appreciate it.

My prices reflect the area I live in and are comparable to retail. It took me a while to build credibility and a customer base but now I have more demand than supply. Maybe when last child is out of college I can retire and expand...

My plant and harvest sales pay for my entire garden costs for the year as well as my canning and freezing supplies. I can and freeze my vegetable garden harvest which supplements our grocery bills all year long.

    Bookmark   February 22, 2012 at 8:49AM
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ralleia I think you can sell veggie transplants in NE with no licensing, just not perennial plants.
I am going to try to sell a few of mine.

    Bookmark   April 14, 2014 at 3:43PM
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this is something I really want to do but I don't have the space.. so I can only grow stuff for me and even then I don't have space for that either and I lose probably 90% of what I grow due to animals and other people in the house

    Bookmark   April 14, 2014 at 3:45PM
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I enjoyed reading the stories from you folks who have started small businesses -- thanks for writing in detail.

"I lose probably 90% of what I grow due to animals and other people in the house"
Desirai -- now THAT sounds like a story not yet told!

    Bookmark   April 14, 2014 at 9:48PM
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seysonn(8a WA/HZ 1)

Though each state might have its regulations, but in general, for small scale operations there is no need to get a permit or license or register, unless it has something to do with public safety and health. Some state might require licensing just to make some revenues, just like licensing a street peddler.

    Bookmark   April 14, 2014 at 11:51PM
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