Running a nursery in Florida is not as simple as it once was. However, with the right tools – it can be a profitable industry. Some of the variables such as soil, water and sunlight are things that are somewhat in our control, and that can greatly impact the viability of any outdoor nursery operation. Let’s take some time to explore some key tools a new nursery owner can use to get educated and become more productive and profitable!
Testing your soil is a key first step in nursery planning. This can tell you if it may be worth it to move to containerized model. You may be able to blend your potting mixes with local soil to save cost, you won't know any of these variables until you get the soil tested.
Our friends at Profile Products have a great solution in PS3 a free soil testing program and online software tool.
Or, alternatively, you can use the dedicated scientists and researchers at the University of Florida IFAS Extension offices.
Water is the next step in getting ahold of your environmental variables. If you are using a well to water your plants, the Florida Health Department has a recommended listing of private testing companies that can assist you in determining the contents of the well water you’re pulling up. This will also help you decide how much filtering you may or may not need for nursery use.
If you are using a central water supply, the Florida Department of Environmental Protection has water quality reports .
Once you’ve determined the best source for your watering needs, you can move on to the right amount.
And the easiest way to determine that is with a leachate fraction test, and the following link will walk you through how to perform this simple test all on your own. Watering – Leachate Fraction Test
Last but not least, getting an idea of the amount of sunlight (direct and indirect) is crucial to outdoor nursery planning. It can determine the types of crops you can grow, and If structures such as a shade house are a good investment based on your target market and customer base.
Both Suncalc and Suncurves can provide different sets of data on a day-to-day basis for different sets of latitude and longitudinal coordinates (as well as zip codes). Leveraging this data will help you make the right calls on plants suited for your area and profit margins.