How to Turn Your Green Thumb Into a Side Hustle [EP 9]

Welcome to Episode 9: How to Turn Your Green Thumb into a Side Hustle

Thoughts of spring are creeping in as the daylight hours get longer. I know I’m ready for spring but I feel as if Old Man Winter isn’t finished with us yet. I’m sure we’re in for at least 6 more weeks of winter, no matter what the groundhog says.

In this episode I’m going to talk about how you can take your love of gardening and turn it into more than just green leaves.

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Bedding Plants and Flower Baskets

Anyone that has shopped for bedding plants since Spring 2020 knows how hard it is to get what you want. I know the greenhouses in my area were sold out of almost everything within a couple weeks of being open. It’s as if every single person decided that was the year to start gardening. It’s amazing what fear will do to people.

But, I’m not here to talk about the pandemic because I’m sure everyone is tired of hearing about it, even though it’s a part of our everyday life now. 

If you have the space and a window that gets direct sunlight most of the day, you can start your own bedding plants. And if you plant seeds like I do, you’ll have more than enough and can sell the extras. An ideal location would be a greenhouse, but if you live in a climate like mine, the cost to heat one this time of year would eat up your profits and then some.

It takes several weeks for seedlings to grow into sellable plants. Depending on your temperate zone, you’ll want to get your seeds planted before the end of February. Some can be planted later but keep in mind peak planting time. In my area nothing is generally planted in the ground until after Victoria Day, which is the third Monday in May.

I have planted potatoes on May Long, and some seeds that don’t mind the ground being a little cooler. But when it comes to putting out tender young plants, it’s best to wait another week or two. I’d rather wait than have everything freeze and have to start over.

Now, back to the seeding.

You’ll need a lightweight soil, some cell packs, plant trays with clear lids, a spray bottle, and your seeds. It’s also good practice to have labels and a permanent marker handy. You don’t want to be playing any guessing games when it comes to telling potential customers what the plants are. And until they mature a little, it’s often difficult to tell them apart. This is especially true when it comes to flower seedlings.

Also, make sure you record everything in a notebook. Don’t rely on memory alone, because no matter how good your memory is, when it comes to a dozen or more varieties of plants, it will fail you. And yes, that is experience talking.

Next determine what stages you want to sell your plants at. Will they be a couple inches high, or will they be ready to flower? Or do you want them in all their beauty so they attract more than the bees? These are all things to consider before you start planting your seeds. 

Another very important thing to keep in mind is once your seeds germinate and get their first true leaves, it’ll be time to transplant them into bigger containers or cell packs. Do you have enough room for them, and enough natural light? 

If you don’t have the right light you can invest in some grow lights. They are relatively inexpensive, and I bought a few on Amazon. They are currently providing light for a couple of experimental plants I have, as well as some of the smaller houseplants.

You can improvise to a degree and invest in some grow light bulbs that can be put in a lamp. I have used a floor lamp and directed the fixtures toward the plants I was growing. It does help to have a light bar instead, as more space and light can be utilized.

As the seedlings grow your house may begin to look like a jungle. Ideally you’ll have a shelving unit of some sort set up in front of a direct sun window, or with the grow light bars. 

If you have the right amount of light, your plants should be growing but not becoming stretched out and leggy. And as the weeks go on, you should start to see buds appearing. As the weather warms you can move your seedlings to a greenhouse or under plastic in raised beds. If the nights are still below freezing be sure you have a reliable heat source to protect your tender young plants from freezing.

In my area the greenhouses are open to the public generally on Mother’s Day weekend. If you’re going to have your plants ready at the same time, be sure to advertise your location a week or two ahead of time. Or, you could sell them at any time by posting on social media.

If you are only going to have a few trays to sell you may be tempted to price much lower than the bigger centers but I advise against that. You’ll be cutting into your profits plus bringing down the overall price, which hurts everyone in the industry in the end. Find out ahead of time what greenhouses are charging and stay competitive. 

If you enjoy creating planters and baskets, you could add a little more to your bottom line. Your additional investment will be containers and more soil, but your earning potential is higher. 

If selling the seedlings or baskets doesn’t appeal to you, another option is to have a market garden. This is ideal if you have a large garden plot, as you can plant a lot of vegetables. If you don’t have a lot of area for a traditional garden plot, you can still have a market garden.

Raised beds are wonderful in that you can plant sooner, and attach trellises so your otherwise sprawling vegetables can grow vertically. This is ideal for cucumbers, pumpkins, watermelon, and other vining crops. One word of caution here though: make sure your trellises are firmly attached to your beds or to poles sunk into the ground. As your crops grow the produce gets heavy, and will cause bending or breaking if not properly anchored.

Some types of produce that is popular are potatoes, carrots, beans, peas, lettuce, radishes, tomatoes, cucumbers, peppers, zucchini, spaghetti squash, butternut squash, herbs, onions, and garlic. If you can grow these basics, plus some others to add a little variety, such as tomatillos and cucamelon, you will do well.

No matter what you grow, remember it takes time and maintenance. Weed between the rows, water regularly, and protect them from the hot sun and moths by using row covers. And you don’t have to start with acres and acres. It’s okay to start small, and if you like what you’re doing, expand a little more each year. 

The nice thing about a summer side hustle is being able to potentially fund a winter vacation. And for those of you who live in a climate like mine, a vacation to warmer temperatures is welcome.

House Plants

Do you have house plants that are multiplying? 

Not everyone wants or has the space for bedding plants, so offering houseplants can be a nice little side hustle as well. Some can be started from seed, but you’ll get much faster results by taking cuttings from your existing plants. 

Some are easier to propagate than others, but with patience it can be done. Spider plants are the easiest to propagate, plus they are air purifiers. And I think they’re the coolest plant when they’re sending out the babies. I love my spider plants, but they do not like where they are because neither one is giving me any babies.

Succulents, Christmas Cactus, Snake Plant, and ivies are the easiest to propagate. I have had good luck with fig trees and umbrella trees, and even African Violets. My only issue with the latter is they do not do well in my presence. I can get a leaf cutting from someone, start it easily enough…then it dies. I do not have the magic touch with them that my maternal grandmother had. I swear they’re a species that has a hatred for me, no matter how hard I try.

Potted houseplants do take up space, but depending on the species, you can get in upwards of $6 for a 4” potted plant. I have a prayer plant that I paid $12 for at a local shop last spring, and it came in a 4” pot if I recall correctly.

Another type of houseplant you can grow and sell is the air plant. I personally do not have any, but my daughter has several varieties and multiple sizes. She has had a few of them reproduce, which is pretty neat. She has sold several in clear bowls or terrariums, complete with coloured sand, rocks, and shells. They’re fairly easy to care for, and there’s no soil to mess around with.

Conclusion

Planting, growing, and harvesting is a great way to make some extra money during the summer months. The best part is being able to enjoy the fresh produce, because when you grow it yourself you can’t get it any fresher. Supplying it to others in your community ensures they also get quality fruits and vegetables, plus they can be rest assured no chemicals were used to keep them from perishing.

If you would like to learn more about gardening, visit my just-for-fun site where I have articles about growing your own sprouts, making self-watering planters, and other gardening tips. It’s a work in progress as I didn’t touch it for over a year due to life, but it is being added to once again.

If you have any questions about gardening, feel free to visit allingardening.ca and contact me via the contact page.

Join me next week when I talk about another gardening side hustle: making furniture and decor. 

Thanks for listening to this episode and I hope you’ve been able to take away a little something from it. If you want to learn more about me, visit my website takeonlifeafter50.com. If you like what you heard, you can support my podcast and blog at buymeacoffee.com/takeonlife50. 

If you like what you read you can show your support by pinning this post, sharing on social media, or buy me a coffee.


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