Category Archives: Garden Advice

Southern Exposure’s Holiday Gift Guide

Everyone wants to find presents that make their friends and family feel understood, appreciated, and loved. Thankfully for anyone who like gardening or wants to learn there’s plenty of easy, affordable, and sustainable gift ideas to excite any gardener this holiday season.

Many of these ideas are also great whole family gift ideas for those with kids. Gardening focused gifts can help children get excited and involved in the outdoors with their family.

Popcorn Sheller and Popcorn

Check out some of SESE’s awesome popcorn varieties like the rainbow Cherokee Long Ear Small Popcorn (pictured above) or  Pennsylvania Butter-Flavored Popcorn for a truly gardener twist on the classic “movie night” basket. For the ulimate experience check in during harvest time and bring over your favorite gardening documentary.

Mushroom Spawn

Know a gardener or budding permaculturalist looking to branch out? You can order mushroom spawn from Sharondale Farm through SESE. It’s an excellent gift for those looking to add productivity to shady areas of a property.

DIY Insect Hotel, Bird, or Bat House

Handmade gifts can be especially meaningful. Making an insect hotel, bird, or bat house will help you show off your DIY skills, improve your loved one’s garden, and give some deserving species a helping hand.

CobraHead ‘Steel Fingernail’ Weeder and Cultivator

This is one of Southern Exposure’s favorite tools for small gardens. National Garden Club testers were really impressed with it as well. Plus it’s made in the USA.

Educational Materials

SESE is known for selling seeds but we also offer some great DVDs and books for any gardener to expand their knowledge and gather more inspirational project ideas. Some of our favorites include:

Be sure to visit the website for more great options!

Seed Mix

Make up a basket of your favorite varieties to share or select one of SESE’s mixes like the Virginia Heritage Seed Collection, Welcom-to-the-Garden Pollinator Collection, or the Three Sisters Garden Package. This is a great idea for the adventurous gardener who loves to try new things.

Seed Saving Basket

Heirloom loving gardeners will love a seed saving gift basket. Pick out some of your favorite heirloom and open pollinated seed varieties and a few of SESE’s seed saving supplies. Things like self-sealing seed packets or seed vials and seed cleaning screens may not seem exciting to everyone but will make a big difference in the life of your favorite seed saver.

Fertility

It sounds super wierd but anything that will make a garden more productive will make your gardener happier. Gift your friend a homemade compost tea kit, cover crop seeds from SESE, or a garden amendment like work castings or liquid kelp.

Gift Certificates

If you’ve got a particulary picky friend or just can’t decide what to get consider an SESE gift certificate. You can purchase paper gift certificates or digital ones and leave the tough decisions up to them.

Cold Frame

If you’re into handmade gifts, a coldframe is a simple project for those with basic carpentry skills. For the best effect pair it with some cold hardy seeds or a helpful book like Eliot Coleman’s Four Season Harvest.

Your Seed Collections

Part of Southern Exposure’s mission is to keep varieties alive, so we love seeing others share seeds. If you’re a seed saver consider packaging and gifting some of your own seed collections. This is an especially budget friendly gift idea as well, but another gardener will know just how much you care.

Your Time

Not everyone can go on a shopping spree for their favorite gardener. If your budget is tight consider giving a handmade redeemable coupon for your time. Maybe you could offer 1 hour of weeding or help with springtime planting. There isn’t a gardener in the world that’s not going to be excited about getting some free help!

Whatever your budget you can find a great gift for any of the gardeners, seed savers, permaculturalists, or homesteaders in your life.

 

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How to Make Money From Your Backyard Garden

Thankfully gardening is a relatively cheap hobby. In fact it can save you money, hello free produce, flowers, and herbs! Plus there’s no need to pay for a gym membership when you’ve got loads of weeding to do, am I right? That being said it’s absolutely a big commitment of time and effort. If you want your garden to do more for you can learn to market some of your backyard garden products.

This is not a guide to starting a farm and earning a full-time income. That, is way more involved than one post could ever hope to be. However using a couple of these ideas you can earn a little extra cash. Maybe you can use to buy seeds next year or that wheel hoe you’ve always wanted.

Start extra seeds.

If you start your own plants from seed during the spring try starting a few extra to offer for sale to local gardeners. Plant starts are really expensive even at the big box stores and unless you have a big greenhouse in your area it’s often hard to find much variety. If you have the best heirloom tomato starts in town let people know! Talk to friends and neighbors or post a few flyers.

Small co-ops/health food stores.

While your backyard garden may never be big enough to sell wholesale to your local grocery store you may find a nearby health food store or food co-op that will take some produce off your hands. These stores generally require a less consistent product and supply and may be willing to work with your restrictions. It never hurts to ask.

Set up a roadside stand.

Roadside stands can be as simple as a table and some baskets. If you’ve got kids this may be a great opportunity in lieu of a lemonade stand. If you’re not on a road with a high volume of traffic you may want to set up elsewhere. Some businesses allow people to set up a table with produce in their parking lot, just ask around.

For both options it’s good to check on things like zoning laws and local “peddler’s laws” before setting up shop.

Rent a booth at your local farmer’s market.

Farmer’s markets can be one of the best places to sell produce and other garden products because that’s what people are going there to buy. However there’s several things worth noting about farmer’s markets before you count on them to increase your payday. First most farmer’s markets have a fee and many now require sellers to carry liability insurance, a cost your gardening side business may not be able to afford. On top of that you need to consider the cost of fuel to get you to and from the market.

Second at larger farmer’s markets you’ll be competing with growers who spend their lives doing this. Customers are more likely to spend their dollars at booths with beautiful displays and loads of produce. At larger markets you’ll need something special to stand out. Check out your local farmer’s market before renting a booth for the season.

Third because farmer’s markets are better for everyone involved if there’s reliable vendors, markets generally require commitment for the entire season. You’ll have to dedicate a lot of time to the market itself plus set-up and tear-down, travel, and market prep.

Attend local sales.

If farmer’s markets don’t work out you may find some local sale events that will work well for your products. You may find some church, craft, or local artisan sales that will accept your products and are easier to handle than committing to a farmer’s market.

Try opening an Etsy shop.

Blue Clarage Dent Corn

While you may not be able to sell fresh produce online there’s plenty of garden products you can. Think about things that keep well like seeds, popcorn or flint/dent corn, potatoes, onions, garlic, dried herbs or flours. Herbs especially can be grown and dried for teas or you can grow plants like Dyer’s Coreopsis which can be sold to fiber artists.

If you’re not a fan of Etsy you could try your hand at making your own website or using a site like Facebook’s sale groups, Ebay, or Craigslist.

Sell garden amendments.

If you’ve been an avid gardener for years chances are you know how to make a few of your own garden amendments. Whether it’s compost tea kits, worm castings from your awesome vermicompost set up, bio-char, or bags of compost try selling some of your homemade garden improvements.

**Additional Tips**

  • Wherever and whatever you decide to sell be sure to check on any regulations before offering your product. Things like local food laws, zoning regulations, and organic standards are all important to look into.
  • Build a network. Especially for a small producer the best way to make sales is to get to know your neighbors. You may find people that have always wanted a place to buy really hot peppers or realize you have a neighbor that loves kohlrabi. People won’t buy from you if they don’t know you’re selling!
  • Keep it fun. Unless you intend become a full-time farmer this side gig isn’t meant to be stressful. If it takes all the joy out of gardening it may be wise to scale back.

For most people gardening is either a hobby or a profession but there’s no rule that says your backyard garden can’t make you money. If it’s something you love and are working hard at anyway selling your garden products can be a great way to bring in extra cash.

How do you make money from your garden? Did we miss any great ideas? Let us know.

7 Awesome Varieties Returning to SESE This Year

It’s that time of year again! The new 2018 Southern Exposure catalog is coming out and gardeners everywhere are browsing varieties and dreaming up big plans for springtime.

At Southern Exposure a lot of work goes into selecting and growing each and every variety we offer. However there’s a few varieties returning to SESE this year that we think are worthy of a shout out.

Grandma Nellie’s Yellow Mushroom Bean

First off is these awesome heirloom beans. The original seed was given to SESE by Marge Mozelisky which had been handed down to her from her grandmother. This unique variety is a pole snap bean with the distinct characteristic of tasting a bit like mushrooms when cooked. If you’re looking for an easy fun bean this spring these are a heavy yielders and ready to harvest in just 56 days.

Amish Snap Tall Pea

This heirloom variety predates more modern sugar snap varieties but is still sweet and vigorous. It’s always a springtime favorite as it can be sown as soon as soil can be worked in the spring and is ready to harvest in just 62 days.

Georganic Peanut 

While this is a newer variety it has still quickly earned a place in our hearts. Georganic Peanuts were developed specifically with organic growers in mind. They have sprawling runner growth that helps to prevent weeds and excellent disease resistance. Their red-skinned seeds have good flavor and they do best when grown in the deep south.

Purple Dragon Carrot

This variety, bred by John Navazio, is SESE’s favorite purple carrot. They’re ready to harvest in 80 days and offer consistent color and great flavor. Their exterior is purple while their interior is bright orange or yellow. They also offer a sweet almost, “wild” spicy flavor and good storage ability.

Australian Brown Bulb Onion

One of the best onions for extended storage this variety is an Australian heirloom dating back to before 1897. It takes 100 days to be ready to harvest and has mild white flesh and thick amber-brown skin. Pick this one to help stock your pantry for the year!

Sea Island Brown Cotton

Sea Island Brown is a lovely heirloom cotton that is believed to be a cross between Sea Island White and an unknown brown variety. This cotton offers “naked seeds” which are easy to remove from the lint and has longer fiber than other browns. Spun up it has a bit of shine. It grows 5-6ft tall and is ready to harvest in approximately 135 days.

M-101 Rice

This unique rice can be grown as an upland or paddy rice and is ready to harvest in 120 days. The plants are vigorous, grow about 3ft tall, resist lodging, and have excellent cold tolerance in the seedling and reproductive stage. It does require more nitrogen than heirloom rice.

 

Choosing seeds can be fun but it’s never easy to decide on varieties. We hope at SESE you’ll find awesome heirloom and modern varieties to suit your gardens specific needs and your garden dreams.

Also keep an eye on the blog or browse the website or catalog in the coming weeks to learn about varieties that are completely new to SESE this year!