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John Brownlee
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So my wife and I have decided this year that we are going to officially exit the rat race. Part of the plan is to start a small plant nursery. I have space and I have access to free and super cheap reclaimed materials. Also I believe that in our area is a fairly decent market as we have some larger upscale neighborhoods as well as a lot of do it yourself types. So my question to my fellow permies is this, does anyone have suggestions for plants to start with? The parameters would be that they would be adapted to the southeastern US as I live in Georgia, heritage, open-pollinated varieties, not necessarily native to the area, and they do not have to be edibles but I would like half of my stock to be made up of edibles.I would also like for them to be varieties that can be propagated by cuttings as that would give a much quicker turnaround when I need to restock my supply.
 
Alder Burns
pollinator
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Location: northern California
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Beware of the fact that there are regulations requiring that pots and planting media be sterilized, or purchased new. When I lived in GA I knew people who got around this, but they kept their operation small, selling through word-of-mouth, at small farmer's markets, and by attaching themselves to landscapers who installed the plants.
 
John Brownlee
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Alder,
That's exactly what i plan on doing to start with. I really want to start with it being under the table mostly and hopefully help to fund the purchase of land in Tennessee where we can do this on a larger scale. I'm also going to be starting a permaculture design business this summer after I take Geoff Lawtons PDC. And this would give me free to cheap nursery stock when I do installations.
 
duane hennon
gardener
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Location: western pennsylvania zone 5/a
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hi John,

what should you grow in your nursery?
what you can sell
especially when starting out - even if its "standard landscape plants"
permaculture businesses are not exempt from the evils of money
starting a "permaculture business" might be a slow starter

here's a site that might help
http://mikesbackyardnursery.com/
 
John Brownlee
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Duane,
I've got Mike's system which is what I will be using to get my nursery started up. And I certainly think you are right after having thought about this all day. A heritage hydrangea will probably sell a lot better than a seaberry or something that would attract a permaculturist. however I would like to think that the market for a food forest is only going to continue to grow.
 
John Elliott
pollinator
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John, you might try to stock all the trees that the Georgia Forestry Commission carries, except have them available all year and with no minimum order. GFC is geared to high volume orders for winter planting, which is one method of marketing, but that leaves plenty of niches for other people to pursue.

There is also that nursery in Tift county that does a good mail order business. You could compete against them by actually knowing what varieties of trees you are selling.
 
John Brownlee
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John,
Thanks i appreciate Your help. Im looking into both tonight.
 
John Brownlee
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Anyone know where i would find out whether or not a variety is patented? I try to stick to principles and one of mine is that i really want to grow heritage, heirloom, open source varieties, including my own garden, food forest and business. This also prevents having to pay royalties for propagating my own future stock from current stock.
 
Angelika Maier
pollinator
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Location: cool climate, Blue Mountains, Australia
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I try to start out the same thing but on a smaller scale. I think it makes no sense to compete with what is already sold at every corner.
I think cuttings are good but if the niche you choose requires seedlings too then you will have to do seeds too.
I start really slow and relaxed, so every time I am weeding I do some layerings. I plan to build a bed for the cuttings now.
I want to do herbs and food plants (but not the grafted trees). That is something that actually could appeal to an upmarket too.
I was looking at local retail nurseries and what they don't have.
For the setup of even a small nursery there are three main problems the setup, shadehouse were do you put your pots etc?
The potting mix and who will mix that? Keeping track of all the exact names of plants in your garden how they are used etc and putting a label on each and every plant you sell. Unfortunately I don't have cheap sources for that.
Water and the misting system for cuttings (if you are technically challenged).
 
Angelika Maier
pollinator
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Location: cool climate, Blue Mountains, Australia
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John B, at least in Australia patented plants are labeled as such when you buy them and I simply do not buy as single of them that I don't mix them up by accident.
A question to John B: what is so special about Mikes system?
Scented Geraniums are easy to propagate and nice to have around.
 
John Brownlee
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Angelika,
Mikes system is just good because he has taken everything he has done to build a small home based nursery and and made all of his successes and failures available for a small fee. Its a business system that has a proven track record of success. He gives resources for stock and takes you from purchasing stock to propagating new plants
amd how to get ththem sold. Im ggoing to give it a shot and see what happens.
 
Angelika Maier
pollinator
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I read so many critical responses pf Mikes system, but it is maybe worthwhile because it puts everything together.
However, I don't know if it works when you mainly do food plants and herbs.
 
Angelika Maier
pollinator
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Location: cool climate, Blue Mountains, Australia
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There are two useful resources: daves garden with the plant files: daves garden, there is information weather the plant is patented or not. BTW I try to catalog all the plants in my garden and I really found a patented one. It was on the tag.
I found this one good too as it is a guy who has a tiny nursery.
 
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