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Mountain Oysters and Blue Hairs for Money!

chicago dyke's picture

Would you pay $2 for that plant?
The following pic is potentially NSFW, you've been warned.


Yes, those are my dog's balls. I'm posting them because of a recent discussion we've been having here about protein farming. What about studding and raising dogs for profit? Also: Hostas. But first, dogs.

I've studded dogs for profit before, or rather, my folks did when I was a kid. Dad's memory isn't so hot anymore, so I can't really ask him about it, even as I remember he said he stopped breeding them because of "snooty buyers who wanted X-Rays of puppies' skulls." Still, this is the New Depression. I have an intact male dog of very high quality with papers (Rottie) and it's a popular enough breed I know his sperm is worth money. Have you bred an animal for profit recently, and if so, how did that go? Are you thinking about it? If so, why; if not, why not? Lb and I are on the same page; we can't easily slaughter even fish and birds for our own use and profit. Breeding is so much more DFH, right? Making life, not consuming it? Anyway, your thoughts are very welcome.

Hostas: you have to forgive me, I can't find the link I meant to post here. /long rant about PCs, fumigating, being poor/ But anyway, here's what I wanted to say about "urban" and small farms for profit: don't be stupid. Go where the money is.

On my other, now not functional computer, I have a link to a guy with 1/20 of an acre, in a suburban community. He claims to make $25,000 a year selling just hostas. With little to no effort, in a twice a year splitting sale out of his driveway, with no advertising. I believe him because we have local garden folk like that here. "Everyone knows" when home garden person X has her annual sale of $2 split plants, and apparently, she sells out of them every year. Barb, my nemesis in this 'hood for title of "Most Fabulous Garden" doesn't even dig hers up when she has her sale. She just puts out a sign: "Plant Sale: Tell me what you want, make me an offer, and I'll dig it up, and split if for you." She has a lot of exotic plants and this totally pays for her mulch and fertilizer, as she related to me when I stopped by.

But getting back to simple: in case you don't know: Hostas are America's #1 garden plant. Almost no one lacks one, in their landscaping or beds. Certainly I have many...
yellow, striped, "lily," etc. They grow almost anywhere. Here in 5b land, you can't kill them, and you can't fail to grow them without the most egregious of abuse. The best part? You only need one to start a farm. They the most easily split plant I've ever known. I'm not sure if they're a hot weather favorite, but it hardly matters. Where ever you live, no matter how much space you have, you can put in a densely packed bed of them, or whatever landscaping staple is common in your area, and sell them at your local CSA/farmer's market. One Hosta farm link.

If you had the time, money and opportunity to do serious cultivation of one species, but were equally worried about future income streams, what natural flora or fauna would you cultivate on your space, and why? I'm pretty lucky right now; I don't have to do this to feed myself. But I may someday soon! Hosta farming and dog breeding are two things I can do to generate revenue in even Hard Times. Feel free to add your ideas in the comments.

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Andre's picture
Submitted by Andre on

than 2 bucks, IMO. Here's a similar hosta from one of the best hosta places in the country (they also have great daylillies). I wouldn't buy a hosta with that much 'white' in it, and here's why.

Andre's picture
Submitted by Andre on

you don't need sun to grow hostas either! If you got all shade, like I do, they're great. Is the last picture of the white bloom a Royal Standard?

chicago dyke's picture
Submitted by chicago dyke on

popular, Andre. many garden websites i read often joke about that. "i have a shady spot where nothing will grow, but i *do not* want to do hostas, they're so ordinary!" they say. it's funny. for serious gardeners and designers, hostas are 'boring.' but not to me! and more importantly from a market/sales perspective, not to the vast majority of people. there are other plants that i suspect are equally popular sellers in plant sales or garden walks, but none quite so easy, which is why i recommend them. lilies are another that will grow in shade, come in a million varieties, easy to care for, and can be split simply.

Submitted by Lex on

Honestly, i think the guy claiming $25/year out of his driveway is exaggerating a little. Can you work the angle to support a gardening habit? Yes. Maybe put a little into the vacation fund as well? With some labor and smarts, yes. Full time job? You'll need a real big back yard and some infrastructure. (note the piles of soils in that guy's's not on an average lot)

I can't remember the name of the place, but there's a famed hosta farm that works under the same principle. Everything's planted and growing. You walk through the gardens, choose what you like, and they divide for you. It's a particularly good model for hostas given how differently they grow in pots. (e.g. you'll never see Big Daddy in his full splendor in a nursery pot)

And i think that splits are worth more than $2. Also, hostas are unbeatable and awesome.

a little night musing's picture
Submitted by a little night ... on

and for a very personal reason, that's ironic.

I do, however, have mint. Lots of mint.

Submitted by Lex on

Krossa Regal is also quite nice. And Guacamole is one of my personal favorites. Stained Glass and Paul's Glory are also nice and of the same vein as Guacamole, but there's something about the soft leaf texture of Guacamole that i just love.

I've found that so long as its feet stay moist, most hostas will take a fair bit of sun. An old neighbor had hostas in the open and in southern exposure. When i moved in i thought she was crazy, but i never did see them wilt. (Granted, i live in the U.P. where 90 is like end of the world hot.)

chicago dyke's picture
Submitted by chicago dyke on

year. they are yellowing and wilting and i'm annoyed that she's let them get so ugly, as we share that border on the side of my house where i have very pretty beds. but most hostas will at least survive in full sun, if not stay pretty and thrive.

Lex, if you ever make it down this way, i have to take you to this one nursery we have; it's truly "world famous" and the guy travels the globe in the off season searching for exotic cultivars that you can't find anywhere else. he's got a nice collection of hostas, too.

Submitted by Lex on

Travels the globe for exotic cultivars? Yes, i will have to stop off on a trip to see the family in Detroit. I like the exotics, and given my special place* i also like to take advantage of being able to grow things that most Yoopers can only dream of.

*There's a narrow band tucked against Superior that is a reliable Zone 5 (i've successfully overwintered Zone 7's with protection), which is one of the reasons that we bought a house in town rather than in the surrounding country. 15 miles from here, however, it's a Zone 3/4.

chicago dyke's picture
Submitted by chicago dyke on

members of my family live up there, or used to. i luv da UP, eh! i bet your fellow northern gardeners down the road are just green with envy. :-)

there is so much land for sale up north, i'm very worried about it. when i was up in Harbor Springs two weeks ago, it was like every other property was for sale, and i'm not exaggerating. i worry that foreign investors and corporations are just waiting for the rest of this state to go broke, so they can buy it all up for fire sale prices, strip it of all natural resources and build toxic dumps on it. it's not like this state's pols have the will to say no to all that.

Submitted by lambert on

Everything north of the MA border becomes a toxic waste dump. The rest of the country shoots their waste into it using, IIRC, cannons or giant catapults.

Submitted by Lex on

When we were looking for a house, staying in town was important to me because of the Zone. One of my best friends is a farmer and he kept trying to get us to move out near him, pointing out how much land we could get for the same price. And i simply replied, "I can grow peach trees in town, man." To which he didn't have a response.

If you can handle the Superior winters, Marquette is an unbeatable place to live (a decent Chinese restaurant would be appreciated but i guess you can't have everything). And the nice thing about the winter is that it helps keep the riff-raff out...well that and that there aren't really any jobs.

You mean foreign investors like Kennecot/Rio Tinto/the Chinese government that got the go ahead (over the concerns of a great many local residents) to put a sulfide mining operation for nickel and uranium on the Yellow Dog River plain? Which is just outside of town and as beautiful as anyone can imagine...or it will be for a little while yet.

You mean the state government that let's Nestle pump water for bottling at the low, low price of $100/year lease? Hey, it's only our most valuable resource...we should give it away for others to make a profit on.

chicago dyke's picture
Submitted by chicago dyke on

because oh, yeah, they care so fucking much about public input. 99% of the people there spoke against allowing the destructive mining, but in the end they went ahead and let it happen anyway. /angry emoticon/