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Money from your garden.

Let's face it, if you don't have at least a few acres, you probably won't get rich from your garden. But you might grow a little extra cash. You might make enough to take a small vacation, rebuild the chicken house or buy a new dress in town.

Over the last three years I have been talking to people at farmer's markets and doing some research and experimenting myself with products that can be sold. Here are my survey results, with a little brainstorming thrown in.

Unusual vegetables

I think many consumers are looking for the unique and tasty. These might include mesclum salad mixes (over $9.00 a pound in one market near me), fresh young salad greens, miniature beets, squash, carrots, eggplant (many households are small or singles and they love these tiny vegetables), unusual colored tomatoes, peppers, pumpkins (white!) or new varieties of vegetables such as Yellow Finn potatoes or hot sweet peppers. If you take a glance through all the seed catalogs, you'll find an amazing array of unusual vegetables. For example Pine Tree Seed, Box 300, New Gloucester, ME 04260 (free catalog) has a mind-boggling number of Italian vegetables such as cucuzzi, an edible gourd, as well as many Oriental, Latin-American and American Indian vegetables. Most of their packets are only around 50 cents each so your investment is not large. Americans like the unique and unusual.

Herbs and herb products

I have seen lovely garlic wreaths, herb wreaths with an artemesia base, herb vinegars and oils, herbal soaps, dried herbs, sachets, perfumes, and herb plants and seeds. Go to your local library and you will be surprised at how many products you will find that can be made from herbs. Some farmers have an herb day or spring festival each year and invite the community to come out for tea and doughnuts and herbs. A great book on growing garlic is: A Garlic Testament. Seasons on a Small New Mexico Farm, by Stanley Crawford. He and his family make their living selling garlic, dried flowers and wreaths and vegetables.

Decorations

Try your hand at making dried flower wreaths. Grow some Hopi blue flint corn or Seneca ornamental (pinetree), tie it up, dry it and sell it by the bunch. You might even make Christmas ornaments out of wreaths and dried flowers.

In case you haven't noticed, gourds are hot. Start by joining the American Gourd Society ($5) PO Box 274, Mt. Gilead, OH 43338 and you are on your way to riches! Well, I think it takes practice, but many people sell gourds, according to the society's newsletter, for about $3 to above $6,000 for original hand-painted or decorated gourds. "Gourd-heads" gather at fairs and shows and trade and sell to each other. Many people use paint or wood-burning tools to create originals. You can even buy seeds from the Gourd Society. You can make birdhouses or planters out of gourds. Remember, gourds come in almost every imaginable size and shape.

Speaking of birdhouses, my local gift shops are full of them and they are selling. Some are made from barbed wire and scrap wood, while others are painted and hand decorated with flowers and birds.

Here are a few other ideas to get you started:

* Fresh cut flowers and bouquets

* Dried flower bouquets

* Fresh fruits -- especially those not available at your local big chain grocery store

* Fruit products such as dried cherries, jams, leather

* Honey and honey products

* Berries

* Bird seed mixtures

* Sweet melons

* Seedling trees

* Pumpkins

* Small (two portion) squash

Let your imagination run wild. Do some market research in your area. Find out what local restaurants might buy that you can grow. Find out if there is a farmer's market in your area. If there is none, could you start one? Could your kids help you with a roadside stand?

I found this book helpful: Market Gardening: Growing and Selling Produce, Ric Staines, 1991, Fulcram Publishing, 350 Indiana St., Golden, CO 80401. Also Pine Tree Seeds sells books on market gardening.

While you might not get rich, you can definitely make some extra cash by offering your area something unique from your garden.

Other resources:

Sell What You Sow! Send $22.SO to New World Publishing, 3701 Clair Dr., Carmichael, CA 9S608.

Growing For Market is a monthly newsletter which costs $24.00 a year. Contact Lynn Byczynski, Fairplain Publications, PO Box 365, Auburn, KS 66402.

Facilities For Roadside Markets tells bow to set up a large farmer's market. Send $S.50 to Northeast Regional Agricultural Engineering Service Cooperative Extension, 152 Riley-Robb Hall, Ithaca, NY 14853, (607) 255-7654.

Linda Slater has grown lettuce and herbs for restaurants and is the editor of The Thrifty Times. A sample is $1.00. Send to: 6135 Utica, Arvada, CO 80003.
COPYRIGHT 1993 Countryside Publications Ltd.
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 1993 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Author:Slater, Linda
Publication:Countryside & Small Stock Journal
Date:Jul 1, 1993
Words:797
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