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Thread: Help on choosing plants

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Jul 2002
    Location
    Gun Barrel, TX
    Posts
    5

    Talking Help on choosing plants

    Since I am just getting interested in plant propergation to make some extra money, I could use some advice on plant choice.

    I know I can plant the plants that eveyone else is selling, and I am sure that would make more money in the short run, or I can try to grow native to my area plants, that most everyone else does not carry.

    I live in E. TX southeast of dallas, in sandy soil.

    I know that growing plants that most people do not know about, but would be good for folage, color, birds, insects, and even animals, that are low water, low maintenance could be better for me in the long run.

    What do you think???

    Wes Gainer
    Purtis Creek Farm
    Wes Gainer
    Purtis Creek Farm
    Gun Barrel, TX

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Feb 2002
    Location
    Newport, RI/Richmond, RI
    Posts
    70
    Well, I'm a little further north than you so I can't make recommendations for specific plants but I can offer some advice. You have many options to consider, but the big one are is not the "what" but the "how." It is my opinion that you need to decide between wholesale and retail first, before doing anything else. Once you decide that, you need to consider your potential outlets. Finally, you can do a "pseudo" market analysis. This will tell you what you should grow. In starting a business, your primary objective is to make money, unless you are independently wealthy. I try to look at the enjoyment-factor as a bonus, and the goal of making money as the requirement. As a general rule, if you grow what everyone else if growing, you will sell more volume than growing something that is unique. One of the primary reasons for this is price, aka, 10/$100 vs. 100/$10. I would suggest that you consider picking up a few of the nursery/garden/farm business books from the store or your local library. A university library will probably have more of a selection. If you're lucky, you may even find some full market anlyses done by the university, helping you decide what to grow. Finally, you should consider growing at least 3-5 different things. That way, if you have a crop failure of 1 or 2 things, you still have something left to sell. One other point... If you do want to grow something unique, you could do it on a small scale. In fact, you could even consider doing it "to order" or contract growing. That way, you have it sold before you even have it produced. Keep your risk low, keep good records, and its almost impossible to fail.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Jan 2002
    Location
    Center Point, TX
    Posts
    256

    What to grow In Texas

    Hey Wes,

    Gary J down in the Kerrville area here. What you grow depends on so many things here in Texas. It depends on how far in east Texas you are - i.e do you have the acid soil of East Texas or do you have the alkaline soil of most of us in Texas?? If you have the acid soil, then your choices are much different than if you have the alkaline soil. For instance in the alkaline soil parts of Texas things like Jap Maple, hydrangea, Rhododendron, azalea and many others are No No's or at least WAY too much trouble to grow.

    A stop by a couple of local landscaping contractors would teach you what they are buying - they are always looking for good new sources.

    I have a landscaper locally who will buy all the 1-5 gallon Texas Mountain Laurel I can raise - but who wouldn't take an Azalea from me if I gave it to him, because he can't in good conscience plant them for a customer and wouldn't plant it for himself because he knows it would becme Chlorotic and die.

    Prepare yourself also for doing something to protect your plants from the Texas Heat. Shade from big trees, and/or shadehouses is almost mandatory. I do all of my intermittant misting inside my shadehouse 8 by 24 (soon to be 8 by 32) during the summer and in the late fall I remove the shadecloth and put up plastic to convert the shadehouse to a greenhouse for the winter and reverse the procedure in the spring.

    Things we raise are (remember we are alkaline soil here):

    Texas Mountain Laurel
    Eve's Necklass
    Leyland Cypress (for Christmas trees)
    Loripetalum chinensis
    Various grasses such as Monkey, Aztec, Lirope (several varieties)
    Sinesia
    Crape Myrtle
    Salvia
    Pomegranate
    Hardy Hybiscus
    Red Yucca

    various perennials

    Some Roses (antique plus Lady Banksia)

    Various Tropicals and sub-tropicals such Epiphyllum (jungle orchid cactus), some bromeliads etc.
    Gary J
    Center Point, TX
    Hill Country Texas Master Gardener
    USDA Zone 7B
    AHS Heat Zone 8

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Jul 2002
    Location
    Gun Barrel, TX
    Posts
    5

    Thanks for the info

    What good information.

    I plan to sell most of them wholesale, but then some retail.

    Because this place has never had any chemicals on it, I have been trying to think should I try to get certified organic or just not bother with it.

    I am about 80 miles southeast of Dallas.

    The area round here is sandy soil with no rock. Clay about 2 feet down.

    My place is not really good for growing much of anything, so containers will help.

    I would sell retail at flea markets and farmer markets in the spring. but do not want to see retail from my place.

    I am just confused, because I can sell in the market that is over by IH 35, or in the sand around here.

    Thanks again for the advice

    Wes Gainer
    Purtis Creek Farm
    Wes Gainer
    Purtis Creek Farm
    Gun Barrel, TX

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Jul 2002
    Location
    8A East Texas
    Posts
    44

    Organic

    I don't have a lot of experience with the business of growing, but want to say that I think it is a wonderful idea. Native plants are hard to come by. Organic would be even better. I think people that are interested in native plants are also more inclined to want organic. Where I work there are several people (3) I know that are growing native plants and have a real interest in it. There is a nursery in Tyler, Tx that sells native plants...I've only heard of it, never been there. But my co-worker has told me about it. Good luck to you...it is a noble endeavour!

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Feb 2002
    Location
    Surrey, BC, Canada
    Posts
    221

    orgainic certification

    Wes-I know a large farm operation in my area that has gone around renting fields that have had nothing growing in them for years (farming isn't profitable enough, so many fields haven't been cropped) and therefore can get them certified organic immediately. I'd have to check on his strategy from there on, but because nobody else can make money on straight farming, he can rent stuff for like $300 an acre, depending on how big a section he takes on at a time. Something like that tho.

    Then his strategy is to grow stuff organically on this rented land, for which he gets like twice the price of ordinary stuff--apparently he grows all types of veggies like this, and sells throughout our area. He's getting rich, while other farmers are broke.

    As far as organic nursery growing, it is intriguing. A guy in Pennsylvania named Tredici has written at least a couple of articles in American Nurseryman about his organic nursery operation. He has done well, growing in containers without pesticides and only organic fertilizers. He uses stuff from "Fertrell", who blend stuff specially for his needs.

    One of his articles compared costs and growth using his organic fertilizers compared to standard chemicals, and found basically identical results, except that the organic stuff is way cheaper.

    I personally kinda think organic of some sort will become the standard growing method eventually, coz the technology surrounding it is getting improved constantly, and it has the potential to be considerably less expensive than conventional. At the moment, you can often get a premium for organic produce, but I doubt that will last for very long. Many farmers are working on getting into it, since it's about the only profitable area of farming left now.

    For containers, by the way, this fellow in Penn. uses a lot of compost, together with I believe bark and "shale", which must be some kind of coarse sand/fine gravel for drainage. With compost, it is tricky to get a uniform growing mix, coz the compost can change in quality so wildly. He talks about that in his articles.

    Interesting to think about anyway. Actually, I'm not sure if organic certification would apply to a nursery, tho it certainly does to food production. Good luck down there--Glen in BC

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Jul 2002
    Location
    Gun Barrel, TX
    Posts
    5

    Talking Organics for growing

    Hi all:

    I am not sure about the rest of the country, but here in Texas, orgainics is getting to be a big business.

    We have a number of gardening shows on the radio that are all orgainic in nature.

    Whole Foods Grocery started in Austin, TX is now nationwide.

    Also TX has a strong organic cert program, that is done thru the state.

    It is still a nitch market, but a growing one. Since I am small, and never want to get very big, I would fit this market to a tee.

    Native plants for the home is getting very big here in TX, because of the lack of rain fall, and water restrictions. Also they tend to take the nature of our weather better.

    Also there are a number of garden centers, and even lawn care companies that are total organic. They seem to be getting bigger and stronger, so there must be a market.

    I am not sure weather veg's taste better, grown organic, but I know I would rather take something out of the garden, and wipe it off on my shirt and eat it there, then have to bring it in the house to wash off all the chemicals that have been sprayed on it to keep it growning, and the bugs off of it.

    There is a web site for the Dirt Doctor. He has a weekely radio show that is on for one hour on Saturday, and for 4 hours on Sunday.

    He is all organic, and on this site he give advice, and also how to make your own fert, and bug sprays, and even organic tree treatments for sick trees, and also for fruit and nut trees.

    address is: http://www.dirtdoctor.com

    Please keep your comments coming as it does give me hope, that maybe I am on the right path.

    Wes Gainer
    Purtis Creek Farm
    Gun Barrel, TX

    If you do not carry a gun to town, then stay home.
    Wes Gainer
    Purtis Creek Farm
    Gun Barrel, TX

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Jan 2002
    Location
    Center Point, TX
    Posts
    256

    Must deal with the USDA

    Just read somewhere the other day that the USDA is getting ready to or already has insituted some new really tough to comply with rules for being and maintaining your certificate of Organicness. The info indicated the record keeping requirements are beyond belief, and without them it is not possible to be certified as Organic.
    Gary J
    Center Point, TX
    Hill Country Texas Master Gardener
    USDA Zone 7B
    AHS Heat Zone 8

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Jan 2002
    Location
    Center Point, TX
    Posts
    256

    The Death of Organic Farming

    Go to www.homesteadingtoday.com and go to the Homesteading Forum and search on "The Death of Organic Farming". It was posted on Jul 17 and has about 10 entries. The author was someone named CHarles.

    It is the post I was referring to above and is worth reading.
    Gary J
    Center Point, TX
    Hill Country Texas Master Gardener
    USDA Zone 7B
    AHS Heat Zone 8

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Jul 2002
    Location
    Gun Barrel, TX
    Posts
    5

    US Govt and organics

    You are so right about the govt. But the record keeping will only affect the small growers.

    Look at what they stand for. Nothing needs to be 100 % organic to be called organic.

    The big growers, (producers), have won that battle. They can not meet the requirements that you have to meet, to be Texas Organic certified, so they got the US Govt involved, so the rules will be better for them.

    If I get certified I will get it from TX then worry about the US later. Right now I can care less what they do. They only look out for the very few big producers of anything, and the hell with the rest.

    Next year, genic altered food will become organic. That has not happened, but will so night, as someone slips into some other type bill, giving altered food, even more of a foot hold into our lives.

    No wonder many countries will not buy our food stuffs. But we buy anything from almost any other country, and do not even check it.

    Sorry, I got up on my soap box.

    Wes Gainer
    Wes Gainer
    Purtis Creek Farm
    Gun Barrel, TX

  11. #11
    Join Date
    Jun 2002
    Location
    West Midlands, England
    Posts
    23
    Dear Wes
    You're entitled to your soapbox. The rules here for the production of organic foodstuffs are horrendous. They are laid down by The Soil Association and much of the research is done by the Henry Doubleday Research Association. The price of this produce in the shops is as much as twice as much as that produced by normal means. There is a greater demand now for organically grown fruit and veg, and it is encouraging more and more farmers to go for it. But I reckon that the more demand there is the higher the price will be. The supermarket giants have producers in a stranglehold. I expect it's the same there. The supermarket chains dictate the price, and the farmer takes it or leaves it.
    As you know, our farms were devastated last year by foot and mouth disease. Appallingly handled by the government who commenced a wholesale slaughter of animals, even those unaffected by the disease. This stopped movements not only of animals but of any produce, as travelling was very restricted. The livestock farmers received compensation, which made some of them millionaires, but the arable farmers and those reliant on tourism for their living got little or nothing. So many farms have simply been abandoned.
    I would be interested in organically grown plants, especially for food use. Good luck.

  12. #12
    Join Date
    Jul 2002
    Location
    Gun Barrel, TX
    Posts
    5

    Organic Farming for me is a dead issue

    As much as I would like to be certified Organic, that now is a dead issure.

    The rules for organic gardening will change in Oct of this year, and not for the good.

    High cost, a lot more record keeping, and almost all of the old organic practices that have been used for the last 100 years are more will not be used.

    The Big Corp Farms have taken over the Organic Label, with the help of the USDA, and our govt.

    Soon almost anything grown today, in any way will be able to use the new labels.

    I will be getting certified Natural. This I hope will be the new label for the old way of gardening, using the old organic methods.

    I also made a new post on this subject on this board.

    Not a happy camper!!!!!!!!
    Wes Gainer
    Purtis Creek Farm
    Gun Barrel, TX

  13. #13
    Join Date
    Jan 2002
    Location
    Santee-Cooper Lakes, South Carolina
    Posts
    94
    If you are selling direct why not "home grown no harmful chemicals" or just plan home grown. we have lots of road side sales of veges in this area some by the Amish and also by others as well. Frankly I think people are mostly looking for " tastes good" and no big commercial grower can match home grown tomatoes, or sweet corn, or peppers, or orka, etc.
    Jim Lang

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