Episode-1481- The Backyard Nursery — 56 Comments

  1. Jack,

    When you had Diego on you advertised the essay writing contest where the winner was going to get a pair of PV2 tickets. Did you announce the winner? If not do you know when you will announce it?

  2. Jack
    I have watched your video on cone-tainers and planting apple trees from seeds.
    1. How long does it take for your apple seeds once planted in cone tainers to overgrow, and need transplant to larger container or final growing area?

    2. Can I gage plums, pears, nectarines near the same growth rate as the apples in the conetainers?

    I want to plant all seedlings this 2015 spring up here in zone 5. Frost date May 15th ish.

    Thanks Jack

    • I have to say my experience with containers is that transplanting should be done in about 8 weeks – 12 weeks maximum after planting.

      • Thank you much Jack for sharing your wealth of resources and knowledge.

        Yet Another person transformed for living life for a better tomorrow.

  3. Hey Jack, awhile back you had a link to an Excel document (if I remember correctly?) of what you were planting and have planted on your homestead–any idea where I might find that?

    We are next door in New Mexico, planning and budgeting next year’s activities and purchases, and a lot of the plants were a great jumping off point for us. So Many Trees and Plants!! Must have them all!! 🙂


  4. Hey Jack I just did another workshop with Jonathan Bates and Eric on Bio Shelters and helped them set up the thermal battery system.. they are using marine fan from like West Marine because of the humidity They have about a zone 8 in Holyoke Ma

  5. I have been researching edible landscape for about five years. It is a fascinating subject. I just have a house and lot, but have filled it with edibles. I have a lot in huge pots due to my poor soil. I made a notebook with each types section. It has plant care, pruning and nutritional needs. It also has nutrition and medicinal values for humans. The book takes time to put together, but is a handy guide to have. Seaberry (wolfberry) is good in harsh climates and it’s deep roots bring nutrients to surrounding plants. Good luck and keep on planting. Partner planting is valuable for your plants also.

  6. Count me in when you have this video course up for sale. This was a fantastic episode. Really got my brain running… I’ve heard Mark Shepard talk about how he runs a nursery business that finances his mass tree plantings, but that sounded like some difficult thing to do. You did a great job showing how it is done. Way easier than I would have expected, and way cheaper for the permitting than I would have expected too!

    • Mark Shepard’s model is even more simple to be honest. He buys in bulk, usually twice what he needs, then turns around and sells what he just purchased to other people, often times never even taking delivery of the plants.

  7. Great show Jack!
    Is it really that simple? How much time and cost of infrastructure does it realistically take to be the most efficient?
    I will be listening to this one several times.

  8. As far as legal requirements my Parish requires an occupational license and then there is a horticultural / Nursery license that is required by the state. In order to get the occupational license you have to get a letter from the zoning and planning. That has been the most eye rolling ridiculous process (there is no process) where nobody knows the regulations. Fun times. My parish government pretty much is the major reason I’m looking at possibly moving.

    Regarding Kuffel Creek (the warm apple guy) definitely found them recently. Brilliant. So brilliant in fact I ordered 13 varieties from them (mostly on their favorite list). In fact if I continue with my nursery business I’ll be HEAVILY looking to mirror what their doing by making recommendations. How stupid good of an idea it is to package and make suggestions, not to mention have REAL reviews about the specific apples rather than some cookie cutter marketing statement.

  9. Jack. I stumbled across one Goji plant last year at a prominent nursery in Akron, Ohio last spring. They did not know what it was and it did not look healthy. I bought it for $2, grew it out and have made at least 4 dozen cuttings from that one plant…so much productivity that I built a backyard 18 by 32 hoop house to start selling. I have sold a number of them casually to people I have met. I did exactly what you discussed…I sold using the story! Thanks for enlightening me to this world, I would not have gotten into it without listening to your podcast!

    • I also got a goji berry plant last year after hearing Jack mention it. I live in south central PA (just south of Harrisburg). The one I got was mail order and looked very sad when it arrived. Within a few weeks it exploded with growth. I tested trimming some of the new growth after they got to be about a foot long. They branched out very well below the trim. I also experimented with propagating by digging a small hole next to the plant, bending one of the new growth down into the hole and leaving a little bit of sprout above the soil after filling in the hole. Every one of these grew amazingly well. After a few weeks I cut the base of the branch from the main plant and it continued to thrive. This method produced a much larger plant much more quickly.

  10. Jack, I was wondering if you remembered the name of the hardy fig you got from Raintree. I was poking around the site and wanted to check with you before making a final decision.

      • What on earth are you going to do with 8 fig trees? We have 3 and once they get into full swing, good lord.

        My uncle down the road has a very large fig tree and it requires quite a bit of labor every year to pick. Obviously the plus side to that is insane amounts of fig jellys/jams and fresh eatin!

        I have one of mine placed in the perfect location. It’s right near where you would walk everyday. So as you walk by you go “oh a ripe fig or two”. Grab some and continue on.

        • What I like about figs is their placement in the year right at the end of fruit season and they just produce forever.

          “I am going to make lots of little fig trees to sell.”
          I definitely can appreciate that. Diversity is nice and I’m finding the nurseries that have the most diversity I like to visit and purchase from them.

          Figs are certainly one of the least maintenance high yielding plants one can plant. Especially once they’re established. Around here they become monster in size.

        • Nice. Yeah I’ve heard great things about fig wine. I’ll admit I hadn’t considered it but that’s a good use of figs. I’m sure it would probably be a good idea to freeze them just so you could get enough of them at one time. (Or plant 300 plants…) That’s the only “downside” to figs is that they store off the plant real well and only hang on for so long. (The best are when they’re one light wind away from blowing off. Yum). But then again nature has a way with things. The more cold places you live the more you need storage, the further towards the equator the less one does. I’m pretty sure just about nobody north of Louisiana can have a “year round harvest” like we can.

          We have a carboy filled with wild dewberry/blackberry mead that my wife made back in early summer. I think it’s just about ready to be cracked open….

    • Most likely two, this one and an advanced one. With those two you will get full on PE certification as a PE Certified Nursery. Though likely for that the two additional requirements will be a State Nursery License and a brief phone interview with us.

      There might be a “master class” but it will be on site if we do that. Basically a short internship with Nick of a week to 3 weeks IF WE DO IT.

      Initially we considered doing basic, advanced and master all in video but as Nick evaluated it, he realized that the master level stuff just really doesn’t lend itself to a video course.

  11. Love these shows Jack. I know some are more into the guns and prepper stuff and the info you provide on those topics is great too, but for me these are the shows I get excited about.

    My daughter and I just planted 18 more fruit trees and shrubs. I am looking forward to Nick’s class and I’m already pondering the possiblities of small nursery on our 1.5 acre spot.

  12. Nice timing Jack. I corresponded with my local Ag department last month about opening up a perennial edible nursery from my property. I live in Ohio and I need a $100 annual license. Here is our email exchange:


    I am interested in selling perennial / annual edible plants. I would like to sell from my residential property, where the plants will be propagated as well as at farmers markets. Do I need both Plant Health (Nursery Dealer License) and Plant Health (Nursery Inspection Certificate) licenses to do so? Do I need to acquire these permits before I start propagating or just when I plan to sell them?

    Thanks for your time,

    Patrick H


    Hi Patrick,

    If you are selling only herbs, or any edibles, you do not need a license from us (the same goes for any annual sales). However, if you are selling ornamental perennials, such as Daylilies, Hostas, ornamental grasses or the like, then you would need a nursery license (the inspection certificate). Since you are going to produce your own saleable plants, you would only need the Nursery license. The Dealer license is for those individuals or companies that purchase ready to sell plants from a wholesaler, and either install them in a landscape job, or immediately turn around and resell them. In other words, they don’t add any value to them by growing to a larger size, dividing, reproducing off of the mother plant, repotting, etc.

    You can get the license when you are ready to sell. One of our inspectors will inspect your plants before you sell them, issue you an inspection report of any insect/disease problems you may have (if any), and help you with any control measures if necessary. Once the report is sent to the office, this generates a bill, and, once paid, you will receive your nursery license. It is good for one year. The cost is $100.00, plus an acreage fee (yours, I am guessing, would be small; 1 acre or under). The fees for the acreage are $7.00/acre for field stock, and $11.00/acre for intensive production, i.e. containers, beds, greenhouse grown plants).

    Hopefully, this answers your question. If you need any further help, let us know…

    Thanks for your inquiry,


    Hello Jim,

    Thanks for the information. I just need a little clarification on “any edibles”. All of the perennials I would be selling are edible like horseradish, sunchokes, wolf-berries, and other edible perennial plants. Some could be considered “woody perennials” like blueberries and wolf-berries. I do not plan on propagating and selling anything that you would find in a ornamental nursery. The only thing that would come close would be a rose I propagate called Rosa Rugosa. I propagate it for its edible / medicinal rose hips, which are the largest in the Rosaceae family, not as an ornamental. Is that a grey area? I would like to avoid getting the $100 certificate to grow one type of rose.

    Also, I have researched the State and Federal noxious weed list, I do not plan on propagating anything on it. Do you know of any other Ohio or Federal list I should be aware of? For instance I want to propagate a sterile variety of Russian Comfrey. Some consider the non-sterile cultivar invasive. I cannot find any restrictions on growing perennials in Ohio. If you know of any, please let me know.

    Thanks for all your help,

    Patrick H



    Anything that can overwinter in Ohio, and survive a “normal” winter, is considered a hardy, perennial plant, and that is what we would issue a license for. Certainly, Blueberries and Roses would fall under that category. The herbaceous plants, like herbs, can be borderline hardy, so we lump them in with annuals , like the so-called hardy Mums. The only list of noxious weeds we currently have is listed on our web page. It is under review, and due to be updated, and upgraded in the future.



    Hope this helps anyone in Ohio thinking about doing the same. Jack, thanks again for all your work. Sometimes I think you are clairvoyant.

    Patrick H

    • Wow so the way I take that is if you do only edibles and herbs you don’t need diddly shit?

      Just so you know though to be legal like and ship out of state you’d still need a license. I’d not worry about trading stuff with folks and all but if you were serious about a shipping based business element you’d need that.

  13. Yeah, as long as it doesn’t “over-winter” in our climate, you wouldn’t need a permit. I don’t plan on selling out of state. I live in the Cincinnati / Dayton are, if I grow my business bigger than that, I will get the other permit. It is only another $105 anyway.

  14. Just a brief note/correction (not trying to be nitpicky here, just clarifying something) due to funky wind/ocean effects on climate, the area of Washington from whence the Olympian fig comes actually gets less cold (and less hot) than much of Oklahoma.

  15. If anyone has 1.5 Million to spare or invest Raintree Nursery is for sale, also signed up for the PP course. I have several Goumi’s and they always amaze people I give the berries to, many say I need to sell at a farmers market…so may build up to that one day.

    • Is that information online anywhere? It’s kind of scary to see one of the best nurseries in my general area up for sale.

        • Not fear in the literal sense… more of an uncertainty about the future of said business. Raintree does great work and you never know if its new proprietor is going to uphold similar standards.


      To me it just looks like they have been in business for 40 years and are looking to retire, and they might not have any family interested in taking it over or any family they can trust. I know if it was another 5-7 years down the road we would could be in a position to move on something like this, so for now I’ll do the backyard thing and grow that and see what happens.

      Would probably be good to forward this to John Pugliano I’m sure with his background and clients one might want to venture into this sort of investment.

  16. Hello Jack
    What do you think I can start planting now here in zone 7a so I can sell this spring? I do not have a greenhouse but would be willing to get some grow lights.

    Thank you for all your help

  17. Hi Jack,
    Great Podcast. I was listening to you talk about building the custom greenhouse with thermal battery and at about the 20:45 mark it seems to jump to a discussion about the business building leaving me hanging on the details of the thermal system. I am not sure if this was only on the version uploaded to the Apple website…as I get my podcasts thru itunes.

    I will go and listen to the version on the web and see what happens.
    I am excited about this podcast. Please keep up the good work and as always, thanks for all you do.

    -Kevin in NJ

    • That is all on the thermal battery for now, you didn’t miss a thing.

      That said I really did explain it because it is as simple as I explained. There is nothing more to it. You draw from the high pipe during the day in winter and the low pipe at night in summer. They are connected to pipes in the ground. The fan can be very low draw because you don’t want fast air movement, you want time for thermal transfer.

      Here is the guy I learned about it from.

  18. This is probably a silly question, but how would a nursery in colder areas work? I’m in Michigan, zone 6, and we get many months of hard freezes, where the temperature will be below 15 degrees F for weeks on end. Does a nursery in those areas need to be warmed all year round, or do you focus on species that go dormant, and leave the plants outside?

    • Let me add it is easy. If you do perennials your plants just sleep though winter. The only thing you do is “tuck them in” basically to put them to bed and keep them a little protected. Close up a green house, tarp a misting bed, etc.

      The only hazard really is mice, you have to mouse proof stuff or they will destroy thousands of dollars of plants.

      Think about it this way, what do you do for the apple tree in your back yard over the winter?

  19. great episode Jack. I have listened to it twice and am excited to start propagating for our farm initially and then for sale.

    We have two huge fig trees on our property that I will be taking cuttings from along with a couple blueberry bushes that I will do the same. I have a friend that will be bringing some Pawlonia cuttings, muscadine grapes and I have other varieties of blueberries that I will have cuttings from.

    We are very excited about being able to create so much more abundance with existing or free cuttings.

  20. I have three fig bushes on property on their 3rd, 2nd, and 1st year of being planted. Third and second year bushes have froze to the ground every year. That is, their wood has died and they have returned from shoots very close to the root. Both are Brown Turkey variety.

    Is this normal for fig trees until they get established, or do I simply need more cold hardy varieties? Third year bush produce this year despite having it’s wood freeze but it only gave me about 20 figs. It’s pretty tough to put new growth and fruit in the same year.

    • It depends. LOL sorry man it just does.

      So much on this.

      First these last two winters were not typical of our region they were much colder. Like in some ways more like Zone 6 with less snow then Zone 8 which is what we are supposed to be. In other words we has lows more like parts of Maryland and Pennsylvania then Texas.

      Next yea they get hardier as the roots get more established. Many figs in Texas are big trees and they don’t freeze to the ground and likely many of them are brown turkey.

      Next freezing to the ground is okay with a breba fig, google that. And each year it will grow back heavier and produce more of a breba crop. If you get it to winter over though you’ll get two crops.

      May be I should do an all about figs podcast.

    • Thanks for the info Jack. I did notice that the year 3 fig put out much bigger leaves than the previous year which I attribute to a bigger root. I’ll research the breba fig crop.

      A podcast about figs, pomegranates and olives in temperate climates would be awesome. 🙂

  21. You are right about the nurseries, at least the one in DFW, most dedicate 90% of their space to ornamental and fruitless trees. Us people with a desire for edible and fruit bearing plants often have to settle for what big box stores sell.

    There is definitely a market for fruit tree nurseries. There is something zen or paradisiacal about walking through a property filled with fruit bearing trees.

  22. Just in case anyone was wondering what variety the fig mentioned in todays show was, it is an Olympian Fig. We planted 1 this past October. It is more of a vining plant than a true tree. We planted daffodils, crocus, and lemon balm. We will add comfrey in the spring.. The comfrey will be a wonderful winter mulch to help protect it from the cold.

  23. I’m sorry, but I feel I must warn you against planting autumn olive. Sure, it might be nice for a year or two, even a few years, but they are an invasive species that, planted in my home state in the 1940’s, have supplanted countless native plants; their fruit simply passes through the digestive systems of birds, giving them no nutritional value, and at this point, they are almost entirely inextricable.

  24. Great ideas Jack, especially the cider apples. We are doing that here in Portland, Oregon where cider is booming. We have the state license to produce and sell cider, we’re setting up our nursery with bareroot trees, rootstock and scion trees, and we’re seeking partners with existing orchards or land to establish new ones. Check out
    A taproom and bottle shop are also in the works. You might see a franchise in North Texas in a few years!

  25. I still have greenhouses if you want another one Jack. We can go bigger this time so you can fit all of your ideas into it. I also do the shed roof or lean to style house. Lets try this again.