SJB Gilmour Writes

…and rants and ruminates…

My New Half Price Herbs Group!

There’s a saying in retail: “Raising prices opens an umbrella for your competitors.”

When I first started selling my herbs, I set the price at $0.50 for small pots, $0.75 for large pots, and $0.25 for Tomatoes Of Mystery (all self-seeded, none of which I could identify as this variety or that, so they really were a lucky dip!).  I sold out pretty quickly.  So, I raised myt price to $0.75, and sold out almost as fast.

Now, at the urging of Superwife, and encouragement from some customers, I’ve raised it again to $1.00.  That’s double my original price, and it made me feel edgy.  So, I created a way for savvy customers and my precious repeat customers, to get them at my original price of $0.50 for small pots of herbs, and $0.75 for large pots.  All they have to do is join my Bandannasam’s Half Price Herbs Facebook group, and they’re eligibale for the reduced price.

Right now I have small pots of Common Mint, Vientamese Mint, and Basil – all listed elsewhere ar $1.00, but for group members, just $0.50. Also, I have large pots of Common Mint, normally $1.50, but just $0.75 to group members.

Take that, Bunnings!

Also, I just got some pics from a local childcare centre, to which I sold my first batch of raised planter boxes.  Look pretty good, don’t they?!?

If you’d like some, I knock them together for $50 a box.  They’re made out of repurposed wood from forklift pallets.

I also sell vertical wall planters like this one:

Small: ≤ 80cm² $15
Medium: ≤ 100cm² $20
Large: ≥ 120cm² $25

These too are made from forkilft pallets, and come lined with plastic so your plants won’t dry out.  Me, a gardener.  Who’d have thunk it???

 

 

 

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What I’ve Learned From Pintrest

I’ve been active on Pintrest for a few weeks now, and so far I’ve learned a few things:

  • There’s a chart for everything.  From diets, to gardening layouts, to exercise, to what you should before, during and after sex, to what to wear with what.
  • People will believe almost anything if it’s on the internet.  One pin even espoused the crushing of watermelon seeds, boiling them, then drinking the water as a way of dieting, while another told me to eat nothing but one hard-boiled egg a day for a month and “be amazed” and my weight loss.  Oh man, what a load of crap.
  • People love to pin and re-pin delicious-looking recipes in the hope others will think they’re masterchefs.  My mac ‘n cheese never looks anything like the touched-up little masterpieces on Pintrest, but the kids wolf it down like there’s no tomorrow.

One day, there’ll be a real-life version of PIntrest that will launch spectactularly, run for a short while until the users realise how mundane their lives are, then it will fall in a heap as those users swing back to perving vicariously at things they could, but will never, do.

Sam

 

 

If Stephen Hawking Said It, It Must Be True, Right???

So Professor Stephen Hawking has a message for anyone who has suffered depression.  Ain’t that nice?  He likens depression to black holes and reminds us to look at things around us to see the beauty of it all, and to wonder about the creation of the universe.  That’s nice too.  Thanks Steve.  I appreciate the gesture.  Thing is, I’d warrant any depression you’re likely to have suffered has had a lot to do with your physical state, not a bad mix of chemicals in your brain, over which you have no control.

This leads us to one tiny problem.  It’s the same goddamn message I’ve heard for years from people who don’t get it.  “You’ll get over it,”  “It’s all in your head,”  and my personal favourite (that it came from good Hawkes, only makes it that much more special, “Look on the bright side.”

Umm, no.   When you’re in a black hole of depression, (which, by the way Prof says, can be escaped from – and yes, I know that’s bad grammar – ), you can’t see the light at the end of the tunnel and it is impossible to look around to see the beauty of everything et cetera, BECAUSE YOU’RE IN A FUCKING PITCH BLACK BLACK HOLE!

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There.  Rant over.  Move along.  Move along.

Sam

 

I Get Where Veganism Starts, But Where Does It End?

Okay, now before I begin, just let me point out I’m not attacking vegans.  Not in slightest.  I don’t agree with them, but that has bugger all to do with this little piece.  I don’t agree with socialists, or just about every form of organised religion in which fanatical zealots are groomed either, but, like I said, I’m not attacking them.  Vegans, zealots, pinko commie bastards…  … they can all go their merry way and I’ll not lift a finger against them unless they try to shove their point of view down my throat.  Then we’d have a problem, but I digress…

Vegans used to be fringe dwellers.  Now, they’re pretty-much mainstream.  That’s fine.  I think I get veganism as a general ethic; don’t eat anything that was once a living animal, or came from an animal.  No meat, poultry, or seafood.  No dairy.  Okay, that’s cool.  But these can all be seen with the naked eye.

What if we look though a lens?  Take bread and beer.  They both use yeast.  Wine also uses a fermentation process where a living organism turns sugar to alcohol, and then dies in the process.  And don’t even start me on tofu or soy yoghurts.  The whole process is riddled with bacteria.

See the bubbles in the gunk in that jar?  (It’s not my jar, by the way.  I found the pic online, and pinched it for this post.).  That’s the gaseous byproduct (basically yeast farts), of yeast bacteria consuming flour, while living in the mixture of flour and water.  It’s a living thing, guys.  I have a similar, through less photogenic, container of gunk in my fridge.  We call it Walter.  I can tell by his smell, and viscosity how his health is.  I feed him every few days with more water and more flour.  He gets a mix of rye, wholemeal, and white flour.   Then, on weekends, I bake sourdough bread, and sometimes pizza bases for home-made pizza night.

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Why do we call him Walter?  Well, one day I was describing how he lives, my youngest daughter, who had just recently been reading the series of books by William Kotzwinkle and  Glenn Murray, about a flatulent dog called Walter.  Miss5’s  (now6,), eyes lit up and she exclaimed ‘Like Walter The Farting Dog!’   Here’s another pic I nicked for this post:
yeast
Now, if wanted really not eat animals, or animal bi-products, I think I’d have tough decision to make when it comes to yeast.  It’s certainly not a plant.  Sure, it’s only a very simple organism, but it’s alive, and usually killed in the process of making some our foods like this:

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I baked these loaves of light rye on Sunday.  They’re my lunch bread for this week.  Just food for thought…

Sam

 

So Far, So Good…

Remember those New Years’ Resolutions I made?  Well the gardening & exercise bits seem to have merged into one.  In the past few weeks, I’ve dropped a couple of kilograms, and there’s a noticable difference in my muscle tone (not that I’m bragging, mind you,), but I can definitely feel it.  Must be all that hammering and prying apart of forklift pallets to make planter boxes like these:

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Not bad, eh?  I sold ’em to a local day-care joint for a song – they were prototypes after all.  Now I know what I’m doing and just how long it takes me to make them, I’ve got a better idea of what to charge, and that’s $50 a pop plus $20 per ute-load delivery.  They’re all made out of re-purposed forklift pallets, and roughly 100 cm X 100 cm X 50 cm.  If you’re interested, you know how to get me.

Sam

My New Gym

There’s something vety satisfying about being destructive.  Last night, I bashed and pried apart a couple of forklift pallets – I need the lumber for some box planters I’ve been comissioned to make for a local day care centre.  Once I’d done that for about half an hour, I’d worked up quite a sweat.  Then, I took a break for dinner, then went out and did it again for another hour.

My arms and shoulders hurt.  In fact, just about everything hurts.  But, it’s a good hurt, and I know if I keep going at this rate, it can only be a good thing.  Now all I need to do is just sit down with Superwife and figure out what days I can ride to work to burn off even more calories.

Sam

I Think I Might Be Onto Something…

Free classifieds like Gumtree and Facebook marketplace have helped me discover a whole new world.  Now, I’m not exactly dumpster diving, but I do collect plastic bottles from public bins, and also soil when it’s being dug up by local council workers when they’re doing various “improvements” to bike paths and footpaths (that’s sidewalks, to you non-aussies,).  Add that to the used coffee grounds I get from a local cafe, and I’ve got my pots and compost sorted.  Also I collect discarded forklift pallets to make planters; I sold three just yesterday.  All I really need to buy are seeds, nails, screws, and the occasional roll of builders’ film for lining the planters.

I doubt I’m making a fortune, but I’m certainly getting material for a how-to book (Shudder!  It’ll be non-fiction!),  and I’m scraping up enough to cover some, if not most, of the weekly groceries.  And, business is growing!  I’m having to amp up my production of herbs, and the pallet planters.

Not a bad little sideline, wot?

Sam

In Which I Prove I Might Really Be A Bad Influence. Oh, My Daughter, What Have I done???

So yesterday, I mentioned how I got some topsoil for free.   Obviously, that was before I got home.  When I did arrive, and told Superwife and The Wonderkids about my spoils, there was a bit of a buzz in the air.

Superwife suggested I go get more.  I thought this was a brilliant idea, as did Miss10.  So, off we went with our trowels and buckets.  On the way, I explained that what we were about to do skirted the borders of legality, and that if we were approached by the police, they might not belive my story about having permission, and that I might be charged.  Miss10 thought this was wonderful, and that if I was to be arrested and have to go to court, could she come too?

When I explained that having a minor, especially the one the police might have thought I was endangering – we were crossing the safety tape, after all – the court might take a dimmer view of me than if I were to front up on my ownsome.

Of course, the men and women in blue were nowhere near us (or if they were, they didn’t bother to investigate the scruffy man and his daughter pinching dirt from the roadside,).  So, at least until the work crew have finished the bike path job, I’ve got a free source of topsoil to mix with my compost.  I guess the only real harm done is I may have inadvertantly demonstrated to my daughter that sometimes, it’s okay to break the law.  Oh well, cest la vie.

Sam

The Power Of Asking

Ok, so as per last post, I’m doing a bit of a home biz thing with plants, herbs and planters, and I examined the cost structure.  Here’s what has happened in my day so far:

  • This morning on the way to work, I collected a few bottles from a local u-shaped mall. Score 1; free pots.
  • I borrowed the work van and picked up two pallets I saw on the side of the road. Score 2; free wood for planters.
  • I saw some more at a local warehouse, so I pulled in and asked if they were throwing them out.  They said yes, and that I could have them. SCORE 3; more free wood.
  • On the way home with said pallets, I passed a construction site where the local council were renovating the bike path.  I asked about a huge pile of topsoil that had been taped off. They offered to load up their front-end loader and deliver it to my door!  I told them I only needed a bucketful (It was the only container I had with me), but I could come back tonight with my wheelbarrow.  Thay thanked me because it would mean less they would have to schlep to the local landfil. SCORE 4; free potting mix.
  • My local coffee shop, St Zita’s (BIG shout-out to Sonia and the crew there!  Great tucker and even better vibes!), for giving me their used coffee grounds.  Brilliant for the compost!  SCORE 5.

Maybe it’s an age thing.  Maybe it’s necessity trumping pride.  Which or whatever, I don’t care.  There’s a lot to be gained if one just sucks it up and asks.

Sam

I’m One Of THOSE Guys. Tha’s Why My Prices Are So Low.

Let’s do the maths together.

The cheapest plastic pots for seedlings I can buy in bulk is $0.162

Potting mix in 10KG bags is $3.95 (which makes up about 50 pots = $0.079

Water etc comes semi-free thanks to our grey water system.

The seeds cost about $1.00 per packet, thanks to The Seed Collection. Each packet holds about 100 seeds, I use about 2 seeds per pot, = $0.2

So, $0.162 + $0.079 + $0.20 = $0.441.

So, if my starting COGS is $0.441, and I want to get a decent return, I need to charge $0.85.  Mind you, some of the plants are totally free.  Tomatoes Of Mystery, Oregano, Mint, & Thyme cost me nothing, as I just dig them up out of my garden.  I’m also collecting Basil and Parsley seeds, and soon will be collecting Corriander.

Now, and this is where I’ve become one of those guys, I collect 75% of my pots by dumpster-diving for plastic drink bottles.  I cut them in half and drill holes in the bottom, and voila, I I have free pots that could have cost at least $0.162.  This makes the sum $0.0405 + $0.079 + $0.2 = $0.3195.

Now let’s also assume a good 25% of my herbs a self-sewn, I’ve propagated for free, the sum becomes $0.0405 + $0.079 + $0.15 = $0.2695. This means I can sell them for $0.50 and still quite well.

So, if anyone has a gripe about my prices, please feel free to take a swing at this calculation, and if you reckon you can beat it, let me know.

Oh, I’ve also got a vertical wall planter made from a recycled forklift pallet ready for sale:

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Just $35, and it’s yours.  I can deliver it for an extra $20, anywhere within 20KM of Chadstone.  It’s poly-lined so your plants won’t die of thirst, and looks it and a bit on a wall when filled with your favourite herbs and or flowering plants.  I’ve advertised it on Gumtree, and Facebook here, here, here and here.

Weekdays, I’m open for business between 6:00 PM and 8:00 PM, and weekends between 10:00 AM and 5:00 PM.

Sam