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starting a permaculture nursery, need advice

Gilbert Fritz
Posts: 1060
Location: Denver, CO
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I am hoping to start a permaculture nursery, due to the fact that perennial vegetables are so hard to find, and expensive once found. This nursery will not just sell permaculture plants, it will be run in a permacultural manner.

I want to sell starts VERY cheaply.

To insure that the plants are suitable to the area, I will be buying a wide range of perennial vegetables, and planting them in our yard. The ones that thrive and spread, preferably self-propogating, will be the ones increased for sale. Besides insuring adapted pants, this will lower costs and time.

Recycled containers will be used for the pots.

The plants will simply be located in people's yards, and cuttings, divisions, or seedlings will be taken from them, so there will be no need for a separate location.

The one drawback to this plan is that all the plants would then be clones. This would be desirable in some cases, but in most diversity would be handy.

Perennial seeds are hard to start. But how would it be if I loaded flats with seeds in the autumn and kept them moist, but otherwise just left them to the natural weather conditions? Would this be an easy way to obtain superior plants? I am sure it would depend on the plant.

So, two questions for you all: what seeds do you see this working for, and what permaculture plants have done extremely well for you in Denver? That includes ground covers, shrubs, trees, perennial vegetables, herbs, etc.
John Elliott
Posts: 2295
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How about salsify? I'm just getting into growing this one, but it seems to me it is an under appreciated plant. It's a biennial, the first year it is a little grassy looking tuft, but the second year it really puts on a lot of growth when it is getting ready to go to seed. If you stagger your sowing of it, you can probably make a nice perennial stand, that's what I am trying to do. The only problem from your point of view is that it doesn't transplant (big tap root) so you have to establish it from seed.

I currently have LOTS of salsify seed that I am collecting. Send me a PM with your address if you want some.
Margie Nieuwkerk
Posts: 50
Location: Bulgaria, Zone 7/8
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I am not in the same zone as you, but i have a couple of suggestions that i think would work

A. Check out "winter sowing" online. i used to have lots of failures till i sowed my seeds in this way, and things come out really strong and PUNKY! Almost EVERYTHING comes up and is healthy.

B. start looking at taking tree cuttings - I also recommend signing up for Mike McGroarty's free newsletter. He does not do permaculture, but he really really knows how to propagate from cuttings for really cheap. Here is a link for that, he offers a course (pretty cheap) which i have not bought, i find his videos very helpful http://www.freeplants.com/ That way you can start providing lots of trees and shrubs for others. here's a short video with mike showing an easy way of doing it. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WyXSNzywqvw

C. What I have found that grows really easy and should do well where you are as well is:

lemon balm
jerusalem artichoke

like i don't have to do anything for those. the oregano and thyme are easily divided so you can have more clumps, same with mints and lemon balm.

Elderberry is great, the leaves, flowers and berries can all be used. This spring I pruned one of mine back and just stuck the twigs in the soil. They all rooted. So in one square foot you could have 10 elderberry starts. this is the same for many other trees and shrubs as well.

Here's a really good way of getting chestnuts and hazelnuts in volume; Crazy guy but smart idea

raspberries and blackberries are quite easy to propagate as well.

Josey Hains
Posts: 92
Location: AB, Canada, Zone 3
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I am looking into starting a nursery myself right now.
Start small and hopefully work my way up to a decent (side) business.
So tough to find plants here especially for permaculture.
One thing I worry about i.e. you might want to watch out for is patented plants. I think that can get messy quite quickly...
I agree. Here's the link: https://richsoil.com/wood-heat.jsp
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