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  #1  
Old February 8th, 2012, 11:15 AM
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BigBudz BigBudz is offline
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Thinking about Starting a Nursery for a career

Greeting everyone!

I am Very curious if anybody on this site has started there own nursery?

I love plants so much, and i have always thought of starting my own Tree Farm/ Nursery.

so i would love to hear people Nursery Stories, and how successful you have become since you started it.

what type of problems you have ran into?

and i was curious is there any Canadian Grant's for these type of business ?



-Bigbudz-
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  #2  
Old February 8th, 2012, 12:18 PM
Ron B Ron B is offline
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Re: Thinking about Starting a Nursery for a career

Check this out.

http://www.startanursery.com/
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Old February 12th, 2012, 11:31 AM
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Re: Thinking about Starting a Nursery for a career

I'm doing it. It's a lot of work. Book available in many libraries "So you want to start a nursery" Recommended.

I hedged my bets, and started doing it as a hobby. My wife and I decided early on we would not borrow money. I put about 10K per year in it for 10 years. Three years ago we broke even. At that point I started doing it full time. Last year we had 30K in sales, and 30K in expenses.

For me, marketing is the hardest part.
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Old February 12th, 2012, 05:08 PM
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Re: Thinking about Starting a Nursery for a career

yeah that's smart. I'm only twenty two so I'm starting out now as a hobby and going to start growing mother trees' so once there bigger i can farther propagate them, by cuttings, layer,air layering and grafting to build up my trees and shrubs. and im starting theses on my grandma's land until me and my dad get some to go bigger.
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Old February 12th, 2012, 09:26 PM
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Re: Thinking about Starting a Nursery for a career

Not everything works with cuttings. Lot of the commercial stuff is grafted, which is a whole art form.

Landscape contractors will save you their pots if you ask nicely and pick them up periodically. I have one that I pay 50. per pickup load for all I can stuff on the pickkup He wins because he doesn't have to pay a disposal fee at the dump. I win becuase I get pots for about 3 cents a gallon instead of 50.

Go visit as many operations as you can, both big and small. If you are out Alberta way, drop in.
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Old February 13th, 2012, 12:05 PM
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Re: Thinking about Starting a Nursery for a career

Alright man thanks! yeah i thought of doing that.! i have all my grandma's friends collecting them.

im also trying to find a place to buy cheap air layering pots in bulk!
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Old February 13th, 2012, 12:53 PM
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Re: Thinking about Starting a Nursery for a career

The cheapest airlayering pot is a roll of 6 mill plastic, and a bunch of those velcro plant ties.

This is best done as a 2 person operation:

Prepare the branch.

One person grabs a double handful of sopping wet spagnum moss, and holds it around the branch.

Other person wraps a 16" wide by 3 foot long pieceof plastic around the branch.

Plant tie at each end to hold it closed.

Optional: Chunk of baling twine wrapped around the branch to compress the moss.


But generally better: Most things taht can be rooted at all can rooted in a mist yard/tent.

Setup a trellis. Cover the top with shade cloth. Underneath put a lot of mist nozzles. Get the ones that will run at normal water pressure.

Get a good timer, and an electric leaf.

A good timer can be set to run only when there is daylight. It runs for, say 45 seconds every 10 minutes.

The electric leaf turns the tap on whenever the timer doesn't and it starts to dry out.

It's easy to start 5-10 thousand plants at a time this way.
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Old February 13th, 2012, 01:54 PM
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Re: Thinking about Starting a Nursery for a career

Thanks sounds like smart idea. have you done this process.?
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Old February 13th, 2012, 04:45 PM
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Re: Thinking about Starting a Nursery for a career

I've done the mist yard approach. The air layering is described in garden books using saran wrap instead of plastic. Saran wrap falls apart in sunlight. (So does 6 mil plastic, but not as fast. I should say you also need an outer wrap of black plastic to keep it dark.) It's handy to be able to unwrap the black to check for roots.

My personal take is that air layering is too time intensive. I've come to the conclusion that it isn't worth doing less than 500 of anything. There are a lot of things that are constant per crop or batch. E.g. you have to check the lodgepole pine twice a week to see how much water then need, then set the timer. Doesn't matter much if you have 50 pines or 5000. What's true for one block is generally true for all of them.

You can shortcut some of this by grouping things with similar requirements. So keep balsam fir and alpine fir in the same block. But I keep ponderosa pine with the blue spruce, NOT with the other pines. And I keep white spruce, serbian spruce, norway spruce, and meyer's spruce together when I can. (Not so true any more. Demand for white spruce is picking up. It is now on it's own.) Black spruce, however, stays with the tamarack -- both bog trees.

You need to identify your niche. Who are your customers? Mail order? Landscape contractors? Home owners? I originally wanted to supply landscape contractors. But they want bigger trees than I can handle easily solo. I'm finding that I have two niches -- reclamation planting -- oil well site replanting mainly -- they want 2 foot high stuff. The second is comprised of acreage owners. OMG I've got 3 acres of grass!
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Old April 9th, 2012, 03:53 AM
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Re: Thinking about Starting a Nursery for a career

i was thinking about this idea too. i have just finished my college and have nothing much to do.
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Old April 9th, 2012, 06:43 AM
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Re: Thinking about Starting a Nursery for a career

If you have not much to do, go get a job at a nursery. This is NOT a good way to spend your life if you don't have a job.

There are two ways to start a nursery business. Both work, but each has their drawbacks:

1. The conventional way: You have a business plan, you go to a bank, borrow a million dollars, hire a bunch of people, and hope you can start making money before you have to start making payments. Banks *really* don't like this idea. Their capital is at risk for longer before they get any return at all.

(Someone once said that a bank will loan you money only after you prove you don't need any...)

2. The no-debt way. You do everything from surplus cash. To do this you first of all:
a. Need to have some land. 3-5 acres is enough, but most acreage places will have covenants. Go find a 40 acre hobby farm.
b. You start with stuff that is dirt cheap to start -- either cuttings or seeds, or very young plants.
c. You scrounge containers.
d. You spend hours trying to learn what is NOT generally written down about growing plants.
e. You take plants to farmers markets, advertise on google, kijiji etc.

I'm probably not one to give advice. I started this in 2002 as a hobby. I dumped 10-20 grand a year into it the first 6 years. The last 3 years I've broken even, ploughing every nickle back into more trees, more pots, more irrigation pipe. So I'm *still* not making a living with it. Thank heavens my wife still works and is willing to support me.

(I guess this makes me a typical farmer...)
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Old April 22nd, 2012, 08:53 PM
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Re: Thinking about Starting a Nursery for a career

I have to agree with the above comments. The nursery business is no place to get rich quick, and is mostly a way to turn a large fortune into a small fortune. However, it can be a rewarding hobby especially if you plant what you grow.

I started growing my own trees as I couldn't find the trees I wanted at regular nurseries. I bought seed and eventually had more trees than I could personally use so advertised in Craiglist. For my little niche market I have sold enough to cover some costs, but it sure is easy to rack up expenses. I can't see breaking even for quite a few years...
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Old May 2nd, 2012, 07:07 PM
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Re: Thinking about Starting a Nursery for a career

Greetings from Sweden. I'm a long time reader, first time posting.

I'm also nursing the dream about some day starting up a nursery and being able to support myself. It's fun to hear that I'm not alone. No solid plans on what niche to take - it might be a bit of bonsai and a bit of trees and shrubs for homeowners, though I suspect that you need quite a bit of volume to be able to make a living out of it.
Lacking any agricultural/horticultural education and experience (and capital!) I would of course start doing it on a tiny scale in my spare time and see if my passion persists.

What I'm thinking about is what to do during the winters. I can imagine doing all sorts of things as a side-job - Pruning trees for a fee, book writing, freelance translation etc.
I'd like to hear from you new and experienced nursery owners - What do you do during the winters? Is it just as busy as the rest of the year or do you find some other source of income? Further education? Kick back and relax?

With curiosity,
Jonas
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Old May 3rd, 2012, 09:39 PM
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Re: Thinking about Starting a Nursery for a career

I have a day job and work in my nursery evenings and weekends. I get my kids involved and pay them 10% of the gross sales.

During the winter I check out seed suppliers, order seeds, put the seeds in stratification, and order materials/supplies. Last year was my first year. I didn't have any sales in the winter, but then I didn't try either.
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Old May 9th, 2012, 03:20 AM
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Re: Thinking about Starting a Nursery for a career

Ah yes, I forgot about the seeds. I suppose ordering (or delivering!) bare root plants would be handled in the winter too, come to think of it.

I saw your website Tree Nut, a very nice little niche you have. I'm amazed at the number of edibles-producing trees there are, I had no idea. Best of luck to you!
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