As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.
You can read my full disclosure statement here.
It’s seed starting season, and you know what that means? It means it’s time to make a little cash with a little gardening side hustle! Every year I grow some extra vegetable seedlings, especially tomatoes and peppers, and sell them to local folks. Every year I try and add a few additional things to sell when it comes times for folks to come pick up their orders. In this article, I will share how I make money growing plants at home, how I find customers, and I will share a little bit about what other plants I sell.
The first thing I started selling, was extra tomato and pepper seedlings, and I will try to focus primarily on them in this article. I always have planted a bit more than I need, just in case the germination rates were not good. That’s how it started, I’d have extra and ask on Facebook if any of my friends or neighbors wanted to buy them. And they did!
Then friends started asking me if they could buy all their starts from me next year. So then I started planting those, on top of my own, plus a few extras, just in case. Well, the just in case extra’s, always seem to be more than I had planned on. So I started asking on my local gardening/homesteading Facebook groups if people wanted to buy these extras. And they did! In fact, they also wanted to buy from me again next year too! And this is how it began for me, and it can for you too.
I then share my Facebook post on my blog Facebook page, my own page and I also share the post to the local gardening groups and homesteading groups I belong to on Facebook. (If you don’t belong to any, look them up! It is wonderful to have a local network of gardening and homesteading buddies to swap things with, ask advice, sell stuff too, etc.). I prefer to take orders, because people can choose what they want before they venture out to my place and find that I don’t have what they are looking for.
However, the second school of thought, is to just plant what you like, and post what you have for sale, at the time that the seedlings are ready to go to their new homes. I have seen this work well for other gardening friends in the area. It might be a better way to go if you are just starting out. And if other’s are selling in the area, don’t think you won’t have buyers! There are a bunch of us in the area that are successful selling veggie starts. Everyone has different stuff, so sometimes, customers will go from one seller to the next seller and to the next, and buy from us all!
Ideally, I try to have my posts up on Facebook early February. And then each weekend, I bump them up in the groups and on my Facebook page, and remind people if they want to place an order, they need to do it soon. I do this for 3 weeks or so before I begin planting. Sometimes I get straggler orders in, and I will plant them up if it’s not too late.
I keep a simple Excel spreadsheet for my orders. Down the first column, I list all the varieties that I am growing. Across the top, I put the customers names. When I get an order, I go down the column beneath the customers name, and type in the number of each variety that they want. I include my own plants in this as well, so I don’t forget them! They are the reason for doing this in the first place! LOL!
Be sure to keep a label with every single plant, especially when you up pot! If you don’t you will just have a whole lot of unidentifiable tomato and pepper plants, so this is crucial!
Keep in mind how quickly tomatoes grow. Beware, if you start them too soon, you will end up with leggy starts that are tall and delicate. This makes it hard to work with when up potting them and for customers to travel home with, so I have learned starting them later is better for selling.
To keep my costs as minimal as possible, I only up pot into 4″ pots or Solo cups with holes cut into the bottom. If I were to up pot into larger gallon size pots, that means I have to buy a LOT more potting soil and larger pots which are more expensive. Often times, the tomato seedlings can still be long and leggy at this point, and need to be staked to protect them.
I set up a folding table in my garage, and kind of up pot assembly line fashion. Sometimes my daughter will help me. When doing the tomatoes, my biggest tip is to remember to plant them as deeply as possible, removing all the lowest leaves. I do this both when I up pot, as well as when I do the final planting. New roots grow off the stem making for a stronger plant in the end. I like the Solo cups for this reason, as they are a bit deeper than your standard 4″ planting pot. See my article on How to Transplant Tomato Seedlings for more information on this.
I source most of my growing supplies from Amazon, you can see my Seed Starting 101: Essential Seed Starting Equipment List post for more information on what I use exactly. The only thing I don’t get from there, is potting soil, which I buy at Costco. They just changed brands this year, from a Miracle Grow potting soil to a new organic potting soil. Hopefully it works just as well.
In the fall, think about what you can collect seed from. Look at perennials and annuals. Selling plants you started from free seed just means you earn more bang for each buck. Also consider friends and families gardens. Perhaps you can visit and collect some seed from them in the fall. A little seed goes a long way, especially if its free! Or join seed swaps. There are a lot of online seed swaps, and I know we have several locally, so be sure to look around!
Propagating many plants is really easy. Things like grapes, elderberries and other woody plants are super easy to propagate. Simply take a pruned piece, stick in rooting hormone, and pot it up! Or raspberries, send runners under the ground to a point that is almost a nuisance. Dig up the extras and sell bundles of them! As you are doing winter clean up and getting all the pruning done around your homestead, keep this in mind. By late April, you could have loads of new things to sell by doing this!
Another easy to propagate plant are succulents, and they are all the rage right now. All three of my daughters have dove into this obsession, and we are having fun learning to propagate them. Some are as easy to do as laying a leaf piece on some soil and they will easily take root. Others work better if you take a small cutting and use rooting hormone. If you like succulents (and who doesn’t!) give it a try this year, and maybe this time next year you could add loads of succulents to your plant sales!
Another cheap and easy way to source plants to sell, are in your own yard. Have a look around at your perennials. Any of them that have really taken off, are probably in need of being divided. Dividing them every three years or so stimulates new growth and blooms, so it is a good thing to do as part of garden maintenance. You can either grow your garden by replanting your own divisions, or sell them! Some easy one’s that come to mind for me are: phlox, rudbeckia, shasta daisies, carnations, crocismia, hostas, ground covers, lemon balm, mint, strawberries, and many more!
This will probably vary a little bit depending on what you are selling and where you live. I find that for me, I need to make a minimum of $3 per 4″ pot to break even and make just a little bit of money. Of course if folks buy a lot of stuff, I will give them a bit of a discount. Just make sure that you are covering your own costs when you price things and make a little bit extra. Remember that your goal is to make money growing plants at home, so don’t price them too low.
If I have extras left that I just need to get rid of, I have donated them to people in need, to school & classroom projects as well as to community gardens. Plenty of people will love them, so offer them up! No sense in throwing them out or composting them.
I hope this guide has helped understand how easy it is to make some money with just a little bit of gardening effort. Please let me know if you have any questions by commenting! I would also love to hear how your plant sales go!