Newbie w/ issues-challenges

susiq(NW AR 6B)April 8, 2008

I'm probably being totally impractical!

I'm starting a tiny market garden. Probably just a few heirloom tomato plants and 2 or 3 sweet pepper plant varieties, because of the challenges/problems below. I'm guessing I'll sell a few plants, and then later, some tomatoes or peppers. Maybe will grow/sell a few radishes, carrots, beans, herbs, and a very few flowers. My want-to list is WAY big! lol.

Here are the problems:

I'm starting my seed sowing late.

I have little time--to plant, or to be at the market. (a combination of 2 other jobs are "in the way".)

I live in a rent house, and we'll be moving to somewhere else at the end of May-June or July.

My garden will have to be in pots.

Someone just gave me 35-40 packets of that many different Heirloom Tomato Seeds. A good problem to have!

I need your advice on how many of the seeds to sow? Should I aim for a few 6-packs of 5-10 varieties (primarily tomatoes), or a few 18 count trays of 4" pots, or ????

Which size vegie plant sells best at a market? The 4-pack, 6-pack, 18 count tray of 4 inch, or the gallon size? I have TONS of 4 inch pots, some 6-packs, lots of gallons. I have the capacity to WAY over plant my space and time, but I need "enough" to have "something" at the market.

I'm an experienced gardener, but never a market gardener.

Thanks for any help.

susiq in NW AR.

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I would wait until you in a more stable situation and can grow enough to make it worth your while.

Not being able to go to market will hurt you. The worst thing you can do to yourself while building your customer base is not be there regularly (i.e every week). If you consistently are a no show people will soon quit coming to your stall and than you will sell very little when you do show up. Do not think just because you grew something people want to buy it. You have to convince them they want what you have. That is called marketing and marketing is probably more important than growing in this game.

The people who make money selling vegetable starts bring in several hundred per market-at least 10 flats with a variety of things. The more you have the more you will sell. Most people want tomatoes etc., that are 6 to 10 weeks old.

Selling produce you need to have quite a bit and you have to succession plant to keep it coming. Market gardening is nothing like home gardening.

Sorry to not be more encouraging but if you do not have space, time and you are moving starting a market garden just seems to be a bad idea this year.

    Bookmark   April 9, 2008 at 7:27AM
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susiq(NW AR 6B)

boulderbelt, Thank you for writing. I DO appreciate your advice. You've probably listed very accurately why I'm hesitating.

I got the heirloom seeds a week ago, and a 72 jiffy pot seed tray* at Walmart, and I still haven't sowed one seed.

*I do have professional seed trays and the collection of seed sowing things I mentioned in my original post, I just didn't want to drag them all out. I was a one-woman flower farmer at my previous home, and never had enough to attempt a market, (or was too scared to), and the market wasn't five minutes away, either.

I'm in & new to a small town, the market is a big thing,(and literally 5 minutes away) but I don't know how well attended. I told the market manager that I'd have very little and she said to come anyway. Having to live in this rent house and not knowing what kind of house/land we're going to get has REALLY put a crimp in my growing needs & wants! Of course I also DON'T want to haul 70 jillion plant pots to whatever new house we get.

I think I could go to the Friday morning market, but not Tuesday or Saturday. Stillllll. The hesitation is stunning, and so is the "want"! Lucky me!

One of my ideas earlier this spring/late winter was to just sell directly to my friends, instead of attempting the market. Maybe I should revisit that idea.

Need to run to work, will ponder there instead of here on the computer.

Thanks for your reply. I really appreciate the #'s you gave me. If I do the market this year or better, next or beyond, those #'s will be very helpful in my planning.


    Bookmark   April 9, 2008 at 9:29AM
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Belgianpup(Wa/Zone 7b)

Why don't you scope out the farmer's market this year (on a regular basis), scope out the place you're looking for, get moved, do your research, and get all your ducks lined up for next year?

Grow your potted tomatoes (etc) for yourself and friends, maybe give some samples to neighbors (advance advertising), and just keep learning until you feel like you're on firmer footing for next year.

If you put too many irons in the fire this year, you may get so stressed out that you won't want to start next year.

Just some thoughts.


    Bookmark   April 20, 2008 at 3:55PM
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susiq(NW AR 6B)

Thanks Sue.

I forgot I'd posted over here til just a few minutes ago. Thanks for writing, and your helpful words.

I had a "farming" disaster the other day. My carefully sowed and labeled 72 jiffy pot tray was ready for it's outdoor adventure. My DH & I put the plastic covering over my "baker's rack" sized greenhouse, put the plant tray in, zipped her up and went back inside. Storms hit, blew my little greenhouse down, and oh MY!!!! Salvaged most of the baby transplants, but ALL the labeling is undone! ANGST! Of course, the greenhouse withstood all kinds of storms sitting out there by it's lonesome, no plastic covering on it or plants inside, until we changed that dynamic! lol!

Not only have I never grown (or tasted) heirlooms before, I won't be able to tell which red is which! I should be able to tell the yellow or green ones okay, I'd think, but deciphering the reds will be interesting! lol!

Thanks for your help & response.


    Bookmark   April 21, 2008 at 9:54PM
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