Tuesday, January 31, 2006

Selling Flowers and Herbs From Your Garden

Gardening can be a great way to celebrate what you have to sell. If you want to try your hand at growing flowers or herbs to sell to others, which is a distinctly different animal from selling fruits and veggies, you should begin your research well before you plan to begin your business.

You probably will want to start out small. You can sell only tulips or only cuts of basil. You will need to look at your gardening space. Do you make enough now that you would have surplus to sell? If you do, then there is little change to be made. If not, then you need to think about how much space you have. Converting your gardening area from one that is for personal use to one that allows you to sell to others can be a chore.

The amount of work you will need to do will depend on how much you want to get out of your garden. Some people want only to support their gardening efforts, so they are happy with making only a couple of hundred bucks a year from their gardening business. Others will want to begin to pay bills for their families, perhaps even supplanting a current income. Combine your goals with the space you have available and sit down to come up with a vision for your gardening business.

During the first year, you will need to start small. What plant did you choose to sell? After you know the plant you will sell, you will be in the position to make a few decisions. First, decide how much you will need to sell each plant for to be able to make a profit? If you are unsure about how much people will pay, check out your local nursery. In the case of herbs, look in the produce section. How much are people paying for small cuts of the herb you will sell? Make your decision based on these factors.

You also will need to determine how you will present the plants for sale. For example, if you are selling tulips, you may be prepared to put them into bouquets for people, or you may want to add vases as a complementary item. On the other hand, you may be germinating basil seeds and then selling the wee little plants. Decide on this part of your gardening business so that you can develop a gardening plan.

Once you know what you are selling, you will need to find out where. If you will be selling bouquets or cuts of flowers, there are a couple of good places to begin your marketing. First you should take out an ad in your local newspaper or in industry newspapers. Some people create coupon newspapers, and if you see them (they typically can be found in local stores for free), you should call the owner and ask about running an ad with a coupon. Find out the circulation and the cost of the ad to decide.

Advertising through newspapers will work for selling to individuals, but you may want to consider selling to businesses. You should approach the business owner directly with samples of your work. You may want to try local bridal shops or the gift shop in the hospital. Be creative. Who could use your product?

If you are going the germinated plant route, then think about setting up at a local farmers' market. You should get great foot traffic, and the people who shop there are likely to want to grow their own herbs. You should provide uses for the herb as well as little pamphlets to explain the care of the plant. You may even try flea markets or other places where people will be looking for interesting bargains.

Selling flowers or herbs from your own garden is something that can be great fun. You will find that you look forward to work much more when it is something that you want to be doing, instead of something you have to be doing. You should think about your gardening business as you go along. Have plans for expansion but start small. Know where you want the business to go and then get moving. Start it today while you are motivated!

By Julia Mercer

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