As promised here are some pictures from the last few days. The Begonias were beautiful bushy starts this year. The trailing Begonias for the baskets were awesome. The best plugs I have ever gotten in the last 25 years. They were from Henrys Plant Farm in Mt. Vernon Wa. I will plant up about 75 12″ baskets. They beat the pants off of almost any other basket in my opinion.They can get up to 3 feet across and trail 2 feet or more.
When I went out to check on the babies this morning there were 2 large boxes of plugs. It was about 26 degrees. Glad I saw them right away or they would have sat where Fedex had dropped them and probably frozen within the next couple of hours. NEVER freeze your Begonia plugs.There were also 400 fuchsia plugs. 100 each of Pink Marshmallow,Lena,jack Shahan and Blue eyes. They will be used mostly as fillers for combo baskets. I don’t do many straight fuchsia baskets any more. Also in the box was one plug flat of Lewisia. Remember that name if you are planning on starting to do farmers markets or if you are starting your own nursery.
128 cell flat of Lewisia
72 cell flat of trailing begonias
These pictures aren’t nearly as pretty as real life,darn. I do plan to follow all of my plantings in pictures throughout the entire spring up until they are sold. I’ve seen them every year for the past 25 years and never get tired of seeing them grow again. if I can’t sell you one at least I can share them here.
400 fuchsias 25 per flat
Got all of the Calibrachoa baskets planted and am now working on the fuchsia starts and the Begonias into baskets. Will post some pics tomorrow. Sorry about the delay but the baby plants come first.
I live just off of Spirit Lake Highway, which leads from Mt St Helens through the town of Toutle and down to I-5. You can see the ends of my greenhouses from that highway so I decided to put these pots up for folks to enjoy when driving by on their way to work in the morning. They are in 4 15 gallon pots that are on a beam that I attached to the end of one of my greenhouses. It’s about 12′ off of the ground. I’ve had a few compliments by folks that see it every morning in the summer. This picture is from the opposite side, the side I see from my driveway.
I have been working on this greenhouse for Emily Sean and Noah my wife’s daughter and her family for the last couple of days I have been taking pics. of each step. Here are a few of them.
Grass, kinda level and flat. 12" drop front to back. note the two beautiful redwood trees at the back of the greenhouse area
Stubs pounded into the ground. These stubs are a foot taller than my typical stubs. These allow for a house that is a foot taller than usual. 8'6" instead of 7'6"
Bow set, set into top of stubs. Not bolted in yet.
Knee brace and purlin attachments
These plywood panels have been ripped down to 36″ for a 10′wide greenhouse. Use the 4′ wide panel for a 12′ wide house,
Sawzall the excess material off of the plywood from inside of the house.
Note the third run of 2x4s about 32″ above the ground. This is the bench rail. We will attach the benches to these.
More places to sell your product. Contract growing is a market I haven’t chased after. Contract growing can come in many sizes. You can dedicate your whole nursery top one or two buyers or you can just contract grow as a sideline. The problem for growing for one or two or even three retailers is that if you are into production and say that store or retailer goes out of business or sells out to someone new you may be stuck with all of their product and no market for it. You should ask for some deposit when you enter into the agreement. I would ask for at least the cost of the product you are going to have to buy in to fulfill your end of the deal. That way if they do quit business at least you aren’t out the whole amount. Don’t think it won’t happen to you, even the biggest stores can get bought out or go under, it happens more often than you think.
I once had a chance to grow fuchsia and petunia baskets for a large retailer in our area called Fred Meyer (now owned by Kroger) I couldn’t have asked for a sweeter deal,lots of baskets close to home and a good price. I started to figure out the space I would need to grow for them and it looked like I would need most of my greenhouse space. Then while in the planning process I realized that they had a supplier before me, what happened to them? Then I started thinking of just how easily they could cancel our agreement and realized that if they did my income would drop by about 80%. I considered this for a couple of days and believe me it was hard to call them and tell them I wasn’t interested.
What I consider to be small contract growing is growing for local landscapers or local motels or restaurants. Also think about hospitals churches, office complexes, school districts your parks departments, city county and state, and florists.
Every town has a florist that wants nice baskets the week before Mothers day. I had one such florist in our area that never wanted to have us grow for them but they would show up the weekend before Mothers day and want to buy our best baskets, at a discount of course. I would tell them the price was already on the basket and I would not have a problem selling all of my best baskets retail by the next weekend. They were offended (every year) why couldn’t they buy my baskets at 60% of retail so they could double the price after holding the basket for maybe 5 days. You have to consider every angle before selling at a discount. Once you have a good reputation you should never have to sell at a discount to your retail prices. Keep your prices reasonable and your quality up and you can turn away the folks looking to cash in on your considerable efforts.
Fund raisers is another type of market. If it’s a fund raiser aimed at a specific holiday or season you can plan well in advance. Schools all over the country used to use fund raisers to buy uniforms and sports equipment. I am seeing a comeback in this idea for hard up fund raisers. If you can plant the seed at the schools churches and other service organizations and show them how to best plan for their function it could pay some good dividends. Gift certificates and silent auctions comes to mind too.
Okay I’m starting to run out of gas here. I don’t have a book to turn to about starting a nursery this is all coming off of the top of my head each day so I’m just filling pages with my experiences if you have suggestions or questions please leave them in the comments.