Starting a Profitable Backyard Nursery Business

The McGroarty family started a backyard nursery business that earns them thousands of dollars a year on less than an acre of land.

| October/November 2000

The McGroarty family starts a profitable backyard nursery business on an acre of land.

Growing plants for retail or wholesale is an interesting and fun way to earn money while involving the whole family. You don't need much land (our backyard nursery is only 1/20 of an acre), you can grow thousands of plants at a time, and you earn several thousand dollars a year . . . working right at home

Starting a nursery in your backyard is probably easier than you think. When most people think of a plant nursery they visualize huge greenhouses, tractors and other expensive equipment. The fact is, as a backyard grower you don't need any of those things to get started. All you need is a small area to start growing some plants and a little bit of information on landscape plant propagation. Thankfully, there are many simple and easy propagation techniques that are easy to learn and work really well.

Propagating Techniques

Growing Plants From Seeds

One of the local wholesale nursery owners in our area has been buying our plants for years. She grows thousands of her own plants, but at times local demand outweighs her supply, so she buys from us, marks up the price a little, and takes care of her customers. Usually she goes for the white, pink and Chinese dogwoods we grow.

As it turns out, white and Chinese dogwoods are quite easy to grow from seed, and you should plant them as soon as they're ripe and start falling from the trees in September. Collect the seeds and soak them in water for about a week, then squeeze them between your fingers to separate the pulp. Put the seeds in a pail filled with water so that they sink to the bottom, leaving the pulp on top to be washed away when the water starts to overflow. Afterward, fill a kitchen blender halfway with water and slowly add the seeds, allowing them to churn for a minute or so (run the blender at a slow speed, just fast enough to keep the mixture turning). This process nicks the hard outer shell of the seeds, allowing water and oxygen to penetrate the husks and trigger the germination process.

Dry the seeds and immediately sow them on top of a bed of weed-free topsoil. Cover the seeds with approximately 3/16 inches of soil (not too deep!). Then, cover the bed with hardware cloth or screen to keep birds and small animals from eating the seeds. At the first sign of germination in the spring, remove the screen.

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