Saturday, September 29, 2012

The Last Few Markets

Marketing season is coming to a close. Looking forward to winter when I can sleep in and curl up on the couch. The markets have been fun, meeting new people and getting first reactions to my plants and new business. I think I am growing a product that no one else sells with the small starter perennials and groundcovers. I like to think my price point is reasonable and hopefully I'll get full price for them next spring. Pam and Vicki my grower helpers have been getting faster and more experienced with potting and transplanting, so labor costs per pot is going down.

The last market I'll be going to is the Armada flea market on Sunday, October 14th. I've been telling everyone that they can plant until the 15th so I suppose I really shouldn't be selling beyond that. Starting November 1st I'll be setting up at the Oakland County Flea Market on Sundays - selling bulbs, houseplants, homemade beaded jewelry, my brother's paintings and dried flowers and wreaths. The foot traffic is pretty slow at the flea market so I hope I can count on some of my regulars to come out. By the way - thanks Priscilla for the beautiful peony roots. They are strong and fresh and I'll be potting them up soon.

So that's the marketing schedule for the next few weeks and after that we've got to get busy putting the nursery to bed.

Thursday, September 27, 2012

The Greenhouse Garden

Yesterday was my first day working on my greenhouse garden. Leased a 60 sq.ft. raised bed at the Oakland County greenhouse complex until April 15. These are community gardens 69 of them in all with different kinds of gardeners growing mostly winter vegetables. I am ambitious and I'm going to try some greenhouse tomatoes hoping to eat fresh tomatoes on Christmas day! I'll be growing Kales, lettuces, mesclun mixes, chard, golden purslane (a first for me) bush pickling cukes for fresh pickles for Chris and an assortment of other greens and vegetables. It is a new adventure for me and I'm looking forward to having a greenhouse to play in over the cold, snowy months of winter.

Went to Hortmark - a greenhouse supplier yesterday and bought pots to bump up these 4" perennials for overwintering. Today at the farmers market new friend Priscilla is supposed to bring me some peony roots which I will put into the two gallon pots. Excited to have a boatload of stock for spring sales and this year I'll be ready to get an early spring start. The drawback of the greenhouse is that I can't bring plants into it without having them quarantined. So my idea of growing some florist potted crops for winter sales is a bust. I still think I'll try to get some small houseplant starts - Bogie Lake greenhouse used to carry them - so I'll have to take a look there. I have limited space on the shelves in the kitchen that I can hold a few plants.

So we have a new winter adventure. Great to keep gardening through the cold winter months here in Michigan.

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Musings on the Open House

Piece of garden art at Sage Advice Nursery
Part time employee Vicki and I just finished holding an open house at the house which is also the nursery. We had a great day with a few customers and even more friends showing up. Ate almost all of the food I made and all of the cheesecake bars and had a great time at the party. Hope to hold some more open houses next year. Vicki was a great help ushering friends and customers throughout the garden while I held down the grill. Had a nice fire and enjoyed the cool day.

Sales have been slow at the markets. You would think with the giveaway prices of a dollar a pot, the plants would fly off the benches, but people get tired of gardening in the late summer and a number of people tell me they still have to plan out their garden areas. I have been boosted by a couple of regular customers and I thank all of you for supporting my business in its infant first year.

Hope to continue at the markets for another couple of weeks - even though sales are slow, I need to clear out a few more pots as I am so limited in what I can carry over for the winter. Employee Pam is coming tomorrow to start potting up the carry overs into one gallons and we will make a road trip up to Hortmark Greenhouse suppliers in Capac to get some more pots. I hope I bought enough soil at Telly's Greenhouse to last us, but the one gallon pots gobble up soil quickly.

Still waiting for the bulb order to arrive. I plan on potting those that I can't sell or plant and trying to force them for early spring sales. I hope to get a real jump on the season next year and plan on going to the markets in April. So far it has been a great experience running the nursery. Gives me an outlet for my horticultural knowledge that has been lying dormant for so many years. It gives me a chance to meet people and get out of the house and gives me a chance to grow plants that I really covet and want to grow. I hope others can follow their dreams no matter how far fetched they are and find their passion eaith early or late in their lives.

Saturday, September 15, 2012

Going to offer a few choice daylilies next year. This one's a beauty that a friend passed along to me a couple of years back. Gotta love the daylilies, they are hardy, reliable and so easy to grow!

Marketing weekend

It's a marketing weekend. Oakland county market today and Armada flea market tomorrow. It's my last market on Saturday at Oakland county, so I hope to promote the open house and clear out a few flats. Not making any money on the plants as it is clearance time. The goal is to sell a lot of volume and move some stock so I won't have so much to pot for the winter. A few mums are starting to show some color and will probably sell, Have to go get some more change as booth rental is so steep at $43.00.

Had a good day yesterday sizing up some of the seedlings. Put forget me nots and primrose in 4" pots so they may grow a bit more this fall. May try overwintering a few 4" pots, covering them with a frost blanket. Most of the stock will get potted into one gallons and overwintered under frost blankets. Got to find a source of frost coverings and will be making a trip back up to Hortmark greenhouse suppliers for more pots and coverings before fall is over.

Will have friend Paul come down soon and he is going to build me a few wooden boxes for overwintering. I will cover the boxes with an insulating type of material. Oh my gosh winter will be upon us soon!

Friday, September 14, 2012

The first markets

The first markets were hard. Finally decided to set up at the Oakland county market in mid July. Felt the plants were big enough and the plants rooted in enough to take them. Spent all day and night the day before making signs with pictures. I try to provide as much information about the plant as I can.
Set up all day at the first one and had one sale for eight dollars. At the next market I didn't  make booth rental. Things were tough but I hung on and set up and started to make a little grocery money. Finally the dream of selling my own plants had come true.

What the nursery and her employee looks like

Starting Up

So I was taking care of my elderly mom. Her health gradually worsened and then she was in hospice and two weeks later she passed away. My life had been consumed taking care of her - cooking for her and my brother four days a week, making sure that she would eat,helping her out of bed when she could still get out of bed, keeping her clean and the other everyday tasks of living. When she passed away there was a big hole in my life. Not only did I miss her but I was suddenly missing a purpose for my life. So I want back to an old love - gardening. I had been a professional gardener and landscape consultant many years ago and before that I was trying to establish a small nursery. Sitting at my desk one night, I just decided. I would start up a new nursery. So I did just that. Starting June first, I set to work - digging up suppliers of everything from plants to pots and business cards. I bought benches for the backyard and ordered my first shipment of plants, and I sat back and waited. When the plants came i called up an old friend who is on social security and need the money. I asked her to work for me. So a couple of days later I went and got her and we set about potting up mums. I had ordered too many and we were hard pressed to get them all done. We did in time and I finished them up the next day. I began to did up plants in my own garden and we potted them up. I scraped out my bank account and paid my helper friend, Pam. So I had to sell a boatload of mums this late summer. I thought I could do it. Next Post: Selling at the market