Embracing my addiction – finally

Greenhouse ready for action
Greenhouse ready for action

I have an addiction which I have tried to deny over the past year but I have now come to the conclusion that I have to embrace the addiction and find a way to make the most of it.

What is my addiction? Propagation!  I just can’t help myself.  I get a thrill from sowing seeds and seeing them germinate and taking cuttings.  I tried very hard last year to curb these impulses. I didn’t order seeds from the Cottage Garden Society or the Hardy Plant Society seed schemes and I concentrated on vegetable seeds for the allotment plus a few other things but nothing much or special.  I put my energies into my new allotment and growing vegetables did go someway to satisfying my need to create plants.

Why did I try to curb this obsession? Well despite being ruthless when pricking out I still end up with more plants than I can accommodate in the garden and despite trying to off load them on gardening friends I still have lots left.  I don’t have a lot of space to accommodate the pots of plants waiting a home so they end up getting thrown.  Such a waste.

However, I really missed the thrill of growing ornamental plants especially ones that are a little challenging.   I have decided that there is nothing for it but to embrace this addiction as it makes me happy and it isn’t that expensive a hobby.  Yesterday I gathered all my boxes of seeds (there were 4 boxes) and had a really good sort out.  In a moment of extreme organisation, which won’t last, I even organised the packets into the months  when the seeds need sowing.  In January alone I have 17 packets of seed to sow and the number for February and March is far in excessive of this, and I still have seeds to come from the RHS and Hardy Plant Society seed schemes.  Of course, I don’t have to sow all the seeds and I was saying this to my son and interestingly his response was that I should and I should start selling the plants.

I have  thought about this a lot over recent years but I have never had the courage to put it into action.  It’s a confidence thing I suppose.  I worry that the plants won’t be up to standard, where do I sell them, if I sell them on ebay how do I post them etc?  I know there is little point in selling perennials at car boot sales as people who attend them generally are looking for bedding plants not unusual perennials.  After a discussion on twitter I am thinking that maybe selling on ebay might be worth a go, if I can sort out how to post plants.  However, I do still worry that people might not be satisfied with the quality of plants or want what I grow but I am putting this all down to my natural inclination to worry  about things and my lack of confidence.

So today I tidied my little greenhouse  up and bought some seed compost and the other necessary bits and pieces for plant propagation.  I also sowed my first seeds: acquilegia, eranthis, honesty, angelica, hollyhock and some cauliflowers.  Some of the seeds aren’t that fresh but you never know they might germinate and that is all part of the fun.  As for selling the plants well I shall see how I get on growing them and I will investigate what is involved with selling on-line.  After all I have a nice number of digitalis ferrunginea sitting in the cold frame far more than I can accommodate in the garden and maybe I should consider looking to sell them in a couple of months once they have bulked up.

So who knows 2012 might the year when I actually get my act together and make that first move towards selling my own plants.


34 Comments Add yours

  1. Wonderful Helen…it is exciting when we take that step outside our comfort zone…a bit scary but exhilarating none the less…I wish you much success in your plans!!

  2. lindasgarden says:

    Lovely read Helen if you get small boxes some frezzer bags place your plots inside the frezzer bags spray with water mister put fragile on te outside should arrive ok and you could also try your local farmers markets to try and sell them to ,i heard some schools if they have a gardening club attch would help you sell them to good luck with you ventre
    and i would be very happy to buy from you

    1. patientgardener says:

      Hi Linda – thanks for the advice, I presume you mean take the plants out of the pots first?

  3. maybe chat to the Wind and the Wellies? She lives in a climate I find challenging just to read about, never mind actually garden in! And sends her little plants off all over Britain.

    1. patientgardener says:

      Thanks EE – I will look at Wind and Wellies blog and see what I can find out

  4. Sounds great – embrace and go for it. I’ve a similar plan for this year, only with growing and selling veggie plants to locals, ie. at farmers market, stalls etc.

    I’m distinctly not fond of bedding plants and feel we need more people growing and selling unusual perennials. There might be local fairs and events that you could have a stall at and sell them? And you can blog and tweet about your offerings to those of us who follow you!

    1. patientgardener says:

      Hi Julieanne – I think you should do well with veg plants as many people dont have the space to germinate seeds and also seem a little frightened of it. Maybe I should consider that too!

  5. Helen I only wish I had your green fingered success to be able to even think about excess. Go for the ebay option and you’ll have a Patient Gardener cottage industry in no time. A bit of research is all that stands between you and.making the most of your addiction.

    1. patientgardener says:

      yes I need to do some research and dip my toe in the scary ebay water

  6. VP says:

    Lovely to see you’re starting to make your dreams a reality – at last 🙂

    1. patientgardener says:

      well I havent done it yet – its easy to procrastinate!!:)

  7. hillwards says:

    Very exciting! Like you I think I am addicted to propagation, even now the garden is filling up I don’t think the greenhouse will be any less full this year! I bought a couple of plants on ebay this year, with postage they seemed so much better value than many online nurseries – the Eryngium planum was one of them! It arrived as a tiny thing with barely a pair of leaves but by late summer was enchanting me with its steely blue flowers… I can’t remember how it was packaged, though… not particularly professionally I don’t think. Good luck.

  8. Janet says:

    I’m also a propogater extraordinaire. I give extra plants away to friends and local plant sales. Helen, i would also say talk to Fay, the wise plantsperson in Orkney. She has it sussed. then go for it. I for one would like some of the digitalis ferruningea which I used to grow in Orkney…..

  9. Lona says:

    Your greenhouse must be so handy with your addiction. LOL! I wish I had better luck with cuttings. I did get two new ones started this fall and I was over the moon about it. LOL! I think it is a wonderful addiction you have.

  10. kgimson says:

    What a lovely way to start the new year! Go for it Helen. To succeed one has to make a start. I used to sell surplus plants at the garden gate and made some wonderful new friends. I wish you all the very best, and look forward to hearing more about your plans.

  11. Anna says:

    Now as far as addictions go what could be better for you! I am sure that your seedlings and plants will be happy and healthy enough Helen for other folk to want to purchase. I think that the main criteria with selling plants via Ebay would be working out the costs, sussing out the packaging and working out a schedule to fit into your life rather than the other way round 🙂 May also be a good idea to do a dry run and get feedback from gardening friends first so that you know that your packaging is sturdy enough etc. Try dipping your toes in the water gently – you have nothing to lose 🙂

    1. patientgardener says:

      thats funny I was thinking of doing some dry runs to gardening friends!!:)

  12. I wish you luck on your addiction. I hear there is no cure for it. I do a lot of propagating and wish I cut back, I say it every year too with no luck. Need a 12 step plan.

  13. Dear Helen, How exciting! I wish you success in your new venture. Wish I lived near enough to be one of your customers. Love your blog and can’t wait to read more …. P. x

  14. Sian says:

    Hi Helen – I think you should go for it. We started selling at farmers’ markets last year and yes, sometimes it’s been scary as hell, but we’ve made some great friends and learned so much. Not tried eBay yet but it’s on the list. Had to laugh when i read you’d been dividing the seeds up into months – that’s exactly what I was doing yesterday too! Very best of luck with everything, Sian x

  15. Holleygarden says:

    What a great idea! And what a wonderful way to let you go hog wild with your passions, with no guilt! Good luck in your new endeavor.

  16. Sandra Jonas says:

    Helen, what a great idea your son has. Certainly there must be plant societies that would welcome your seedlings. Also an ad in your local paper might work. I wish I lived closer I would love some of your Digitalis.
    Happy propagating & best wishes for a wonderful 2012!!

  17. (chuckle)
    Good luck and go for it Helen, plants that you have given me have all been very healthy and happy and you are a brilliant propagator. You know that I am always in the market for unusual perennials so make sure that you link to your e-bay site here so we can all see what you have got 🙂

  18. That’s my new task in the coming week, spruce up the greenhouse and get it ship-shape for propagating! I can’t wait, and hope to have a similar problem in regards to propagating too many plants! Love the gravel on your propagation benches! Happy New Year!

  19. Jeannine says:

    Well, to quote a well known garden blog, “You grow girl.”

  20. debsgarden says:

    As I began to read your post, I was thinking you should sell them! Best wishes on your new endeavor!

  21. There is someone so magical about being busy with baby plants in a warm greenhouse during inclement weather. I am attempting to turn my dingy basement into a nursery, but it is not quite the same. And if your hobby can pay for itself, all the better… as long as the stress that marketing & selling adds does not negate your joy in growing things or turn it into a chore. I am a good one for overburdening myself when it comes to things like that. But, I hope it will be nothing but ease and joy for you!

  22. Kathleen says:

    I think it’s exciting. You should try to sell Helen especially since you are so successful at germination & growing. I visit a girls house every spring to buy plants she grows in her greenhouse just because she sells unusual plants. Her sale is once a year, in May, and grows in number all the time. I think she started by placing an ad in our local nursery paper. It’s in her backyard and it’s always a treat to visit. Good luck whatever you decide and Happy New Year too!

  23. A lot of the plants I’d like to grow need to be started in a greenhouse – a gardening essential that I need to acquire – and I think many people are in a similar situation. Sounds to be me like you’d do very well (I’d also be very interested in buying!) I’ve received healthy plug plants, sent with their roots/compost wrapped in damp newspaper in a small plastic bag, then carefully surrounded by shredded newspaper and put into a box. Take the plunge – I wish you every success!

  24. Pat Mason says:

    Best of luck with your venture. I have a two year plan along the same lines…….. I bought 900 plant pots; sowed loads of seeds; spent hours pricking out and potting on and we are now tripping over plants on every garden path! Just waiting for them to grow on then planning an open garden day. I’m also looking at plant fairs. I will keep reading to see how you get on.

  25. Hi Helen, I used to sell excess plants on a table outside my garden gate. Customers would post the money through the letter box and it was always tremendously exciting to see coins lying on the living room floor. Obviously depends on whether you live on a road with passing traffic but I used to make approx £300 a summer – just on plants that I had no use for!


  26. Go for it! Think it is a great idea to embrace your passion like this. I would be very happy to be a guinea pig for a dry run or two if you like. And do let us know what you are growing. I would much rather buy from you that from a big business somewhere.

  27. Jean says:

    Helen, Last summer when I wanted to send off a division of one of my plants to another blogger, I did an on-line search for how to pack plants for shipping and found some very good advice (including, in one case, photos of the process). If you’d like, I could try to find it again; but you can probably find advice that would work well for you just by doing a search on your web browser. I think it’s a fabulous idea to sell your excess.

Please feel free to leave comments as its always lovely to get feedback. I try to respond to comments as much as possible but sometimes life and work get in the way but I will do my best to respond especially if your comment is a question.

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