If you have a garden then you already have a potential side business all set up and waiting to go. It is the sort of business that literally anybody can run and only requires a tiny investment to get started.
Read this article and you will be ready to turn your garden into a genuine moneymaker. You just need to take the first step and plan for some extra income.
As you might expect, the easiest way to use your garden to make money is to grow and sell plants. Seeds are astonishingly cheap to buy but pretty soon they turn into small plants that you can sell for a healthy profit. Choose your plants well and you could be counting your cash in just a few short weeks.
Plants which easily produce more small plants are perhaps even easier than growing from seed.
Which plants to grow and sell?
The list is endless, but when starting off, consider your market. Dont go niche at first. The general public love to buy plants that:
- are a decent size
- look impressive
- can be eaten.
So based on this list Strawberries, Chili Peppers and Tomatoes are excellent first crops. Don’t try and grow wierd exotic plants from the outset. Start with simple stuff and if that works. Later, you can expand your plans accordingly.
Strawberries in particular are great to start with as they produce runners so you only need to buy some plants or seeds in the first year. Thereafter your stock will do a fantastic job of replenishing itself as if by magic for years to come.
Which Varieties should I grow to sell?
Grow a wide range of varieties so that you have different plants ready to sell at different times in the year. It is important to label your plants because people are much more likely to buy strawberries with a good story attached and are have to pay a little bit extra for it.
‘Royal Sovereign’ for example is a self-fertile variety that fruits mid season. According to Gardener’s World magazine “this old variety is widely considered the best of any strawberry”. When it comes to selling, you can let customers know this and be far more successful than selling an unknown variety.
We recommend you don’t just have one variety. Growing a few different ones is a much more sensible option.
Take lots of photos as they will help you to remember what you did right (and what you did wrong) and can be used for marketing later on.
What else could I grow to make money?
Anything that does well in a pot is a potential money maker. As well as tomatoes chillies and strawberries you might try courgettes, squashes, pumpkins, sweetcorn, leeks, cucumbers, onions. The list is long. Go see what your local garden nursery is selling lots of.
Herbs are an excellent choice, especially if you grow interesting varieties with exotic flavours.
‘Banana Mint‘ and Pineapple Mint proved very popular and were total sell outs at our local farmer’s market stall. Rather than growing from seed, cuttings from an existing mint plant (rooted in a glass of water on the window sill) will ensure your mint plants grow true to the original. Mint is brilliant because it is so vigorous.
Basil is another popular herb that grows easily but in the uk it will need to be under glass for much of spring. Rosemary, Sage, Thyme and Parsley are all worth considering too.
Should I only grow edible plants for profit?
No, you can also grow flowers to make money. Sunflowers in particular are easy to grow. Many dwarf varieties do very well in pots and people do seem to love them. In fact diversification is always good plan. If one year your strawberries were all hit by a bug infestation then having some other species of plants available to sell would ensure the year wasn’t a total write off.
Where to sell plants for profit.
Start with your local farmer’s market. This is important because staying local and letting people know the plants were grown locally should be a key part of the story. If people know you grew the plants in the vicinity they will be happier to pay you for a plant than to pay a nursery that might have shipped it in from hundreds of miles away. This is your key selling point.
What expenses will I have?
Apart from seeds or ‘parent’ plants the only expenses are the compost, the pots and the water. Then when they are big enough to sell and you are ready to go to market you will need a folding table to display your plants on. The market will charge you for the stall space, but once that has been paid, the rest is pure profit.
How much should I charge?
Take a look at what other people are charging. If people don’t like your prices, consider lowering them. If everyone is flocking to your stall, consider raising the prices. There is a balance that is different at every market so be flexible and adaptive. In general, bigger plants command higher prices than smaller plants.
How can I increase my profits
A bit of marketing goes a long way. You need to look like someone would want to buy from you, so consider how you dress and talk to people when you are at your stall. Letting people know you only use peat free compost is all part of the marketing effort.
You could grow your plants in homemade eco pots made from recycled card or newspaper. If you want to emphasise your green credentials this could actually help you sell more plants as well as saving you the cost of buying pots.
Photos of you tending your plants while they were actually growing can help potential buyers take the plunge and actually open their wallets for you. The photos prove you are not just a chancer who managed to get hold of a tray of plants and is trying to get rid of them quickly.
Let browsing customers know you will be here again next week. Some people need to see a stallholder more than once before deciding to buy from them.
You need to make it easy for your customers to take the plants they have bought away. Think carefully about bags. If you, like many of your customers, are concerned for the environment, then don’t go handing out plastic bags to everyone.
A greenhouse will allow you to start growing earlier in the season which means bigger plants and therefore bigger profits. However you can use cloches made from recycled plastic drinks bottles as mini-greenhouses that cost you nothing.
Overwintering chilli plants on the windowsill is a great idea if you can spare the space. If the plants survive the winter they start growing again in spring and you get some double sized plants that you can sell for twice the price.
What to do if it all goes wrong?
If the farmers market shuts down, just get online and join your local Facebook groups. Then let your neighbours know that you have plants for sale and sell them through that channel instead. Easy!
Here is some more great news. Your garden business actually has an emergency fall-back business built in. In the extremely unlikely event that your garden based business does not work out for you, just gather the crops you grow and try selling that instead. Homemade strawberry jam does brilliantly well at farmers markets! If the weather meant your strawberries were not pretty enough to sell as plants, sell the strawberries as jam.
As you can see, turning a bit of your garden space into an area to grow plants that you can sell is a great way to earn extra money. If it goes well, you could expand and eventually turn it into a full time career. You would be spending lots of time outdoors surrounded by nature, tending to your plants and then spending time chatting and selling at your weekly farmers market. Its not a bad life at all. As I said at the start. the only thing you need to do is decide to do it and then get a packet of seeds and some dirt to plant them in.