Starting up a nursery

cotty1000cotty1000 Posts: 282

I wonder if anybody with any experience can give me a few pointers about starting up a nursery.

I am wanting to do it part time as a supplementary income, with hopefully free labour from retired parents,but I want to know the steps that I need to take. These are things that I think I need to do.

1) find land with water supply for use. Must be able to put a polytunnel on. (Do I have to ask the council permission for this?)

2) work out which plants to sell?where do I find out which plants I can't propagate due to ownership issue?

3) start working, can bulk buy seedlings and grow on? How much do I propagate and grow from seed myself? Do I import lots of stock from abroad?

4) start selling

I love gardening but haven't set up a business before.

Any advice will be gratefully received.

Thanks

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Posts

  • philippa smith2philippa smith2 Posts: 6,276

    I used to run a very small scale nursery from my own house and sold mostly at local markets, car boots, etc.

    1.  If you are using your own land/garden to run a business from, you will need to notify your local council that part of your premises are being used for a commercial enterprise.

    2.  If you are looking to purchase land for your nursery you will need to ensure that the land comes with permission to do exactly that.  Water could be a bit of an "iffy" issue - commercial premises should have to have a water meter fitted.

    3.  Do some research - little point in trying to grow and flog stuff that the GC up the road can provide in greater numbers and at less cost.  Think "specialise".  You would find it difficult to start importing plants from abroad - paperwork, expense, etc.  Why do that anyway when every other GC on the planet does it ?

    4.  Start selling .......Think you are being a tad previous here - best sort out 1, 2 and 3 before worrying about No. 4.

    OTOH, don't let me put you offimage

  • nutcutletnutcutlet PeterboroughPosts: 24,523

    You can spot the ones you can't propagate and sell, they all come labeled 'Plant Breeders Rights' but if you're doubtful about any if you google the full name I'm sure it will come up.

    Open to the public or on-line supplying?

  • philippa smith2philippa smith2 Posts: 6,276

    My No. 2 ( if you;ll excuse the expression image ) didn't take account of PBR as mentioned by Nutcutlet - more what was worth growing and selling as a novice entrepreneur.

    Either way, you need to be a lot further forward than you appear to be at present if this is a serious query/enterprise.

    Best of luckimage

  • Hostafan1Hostafan1 Posts: 15,618

    I'd repeat Phillipa's advice point No 3. Do research, do more research and do yet more research.

    If it's that easy , then everyone would be doing it.

    Don't assume because you like plants X, Y or Z then everyone else will love them too and want to buy them from you.

    I'd not rely on free labour if things get going. More research re wages/ employment legislation etc.

    It's doable, don't get me wrong. but you really , really need to " do your homework" before you start spending money on  it. 

    Good luck and keep us informed.

    Devon.
  • ButtercupdaysButtercupdays Posts: 2,002

    I have no experience in this matter, but the things that come to mind immediately are

    Business Regulations & Tax,

    Insurance

    Health & Safety.

    These will all apply even if you are self-employed and you cannot ignore them.

    These are 2 websites I found just by typing in 'Start my own garden business', they looked helpful, but you will need up to date information on all these issues and will need to do more research.

    http://startups.co.uk/forum/topic/need-help-with-setting-up-gardening-business/

    http://www.startagardeningbusiness.co.uk/how-write-business-plan.html

    You will need to keep costs to an absolute minimum or it will cost you far more than it provides in income.

    You need to identify who will be your potential customers and grow the things they will want to buy.

    Raising your own seeds will be cheaper than buying seedlings but you need to allow for the space and the time required to grow them on to saleable size.

    As you will be unable to compete with the big boys on breadth of range, it might be better to concentrate on something more individual such as planted up pots or hanging baskets. You could look round the local area for people who seem to like their gardens and put out some fliers or conduct a small survey to find out what they would buy.

    Would they come to you or would you deliver? Petrol costs eat up profits, you don't want to travel far!

    Plants you are not allowed to propagate for sale or profit are covered by Plant Breeders' Rights - you may just see PBR on the labels.

    There is an awful lot to think about - Good Luck!

  • pansyfacepansyface PEAK DISTRICTPosts: 11,225

    HAVE YOU HAD ANY "PRACTICE" IN THE FORM OF PART TIME OR VOLUNTARY WORK IN A NURSERY?

    I WAS IN YOUR SHOES WHEN I WAS IN MY TWENTIES (DIFFERENT WORK), TOOK A WEEKEND JOB "JUST TO SEE". I FOUND THAT THE JOB (IN MY CASE) WAS PHYSICALLY VERY DEMANDING, TYING IN TERMS OF THE COMMITMENT TO BEING THERE ALL DAY, EVERY DAY, QUITE A LOT MORE BORING THAN I HAD IMAGINED AND POORLY PAID.

    I'M NOT SAYING THAT RUNNING YOUR OWN BUSINESS AS A NURSERY WOULD BE ANY OF THESE THINGS BUT IT MIGHT BE A GOOD IDEA TO TEST THE WATERS FIRST TO FIND OUT WITHOUT BREAKING THE BANK.

    Apophthegm -  a big word for a small thought.
  • cotty1000cotty1000 Posts: 282

    Thank you for your advice so far. There is an old nursery site nearby so I might ask about the land and more specifically what happened to it.

    I don't want to rush into it. I would rather build up a selection of plants and research where is best to sell before diving in.

  • philippa smith2philippa smith2 Posts: 6,276

    Good idea to investigate the old nursery cotty1000 - an even better idea is to find out why it is an ex nursery and whether you have the finance and expertise to make a go of it when the previous owners couldn't.  With luck, it could just be that they ran out of steam and you have the enthusiasm and finance to make a go of it.

    Unless you have the space where you are, building up a selection of plants will just mean a lot of work unless you have somewhere to bring them on and sell them. Best to get your land sorted out first.

    Best of luckimage

  • Hostafan1Hostafan1 Posts: 15,618

    make sure the selection of plants are those which folk will want to buy. You could have a nursery full of lovely plants, but without customers who want those plants, you'll not make a living. 
     I hate to sound negative, but tread slowly, and carefully. 

    Devon.
  • Richard HodsonRichard Hodson Posts: 643

    I have a nursery, I'm 76, been self employed now for over 60 years. you can forget about minimum wage, holiday pay, sick pay, overtime, Bank Holidays off etc., that doesn't happen.  Take your time and think about what you want to grow and sell, don't grow anything that is for sale in Tesco !!  Make sure that you keep records of all monies received and spent, vital that you also fill in your own Tax Return, easy now with Self Assessment.  Plenty of opportunities for selling on internet, car boots, charity open days etc., but you need to come up with the right plants at the right price.  The very best of luck to you, I can assure you that you will enjoy it.

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