Garden Plowing for Cash ?

Tue Mar 02, 2010 10:25 am

Has anyone ever used their Cub to make some cash plowing up garden spots or fields?

There are a few opportunities around here to do just that, but I have absolutely no idea how to arrive at a price to charge.
Perhaps I'm over complicating the issue in my own head, but it seems to me there are many many things to enter into the equation.

Travel distance
-It's relatively easy to figure my cost per mile to trailer the Loboy, but do you charge for travel time?

-Do I need insurance ? Do I need a license or permit of some sort ?
-How do you handle some potential property issues ? I can see it now...some guy wants me to plow a garden for him in his back yard. Then his wife sees the AG tire marks in the lawn and the pull-disc slices in the turf along the way to the garden and thinks I 'RUINED' the whole yard !

Size of plot
-How do you figure this? One guy may want 2-3 acres plowed...another may only want a 15' x 30' plot. How do you esimate plowing time?
-To disc or not to disc? I could easily disc 1/2 to 2 acres, but my pull disc would pose a turn around issue with smaller plots.

Cost of gasoline
-How much gas does the Cub use pulling the moldboard plow or disc ?

Condition of plot to be plowed
-Was it tilled or plowed the previous season?
-Planted in what ? Some stuff is tougher to run through no ?
-Perhaps it's been field grass or lawn for years ?
-Good drainage or lots of wet spots ?
-What about underground surprises like tree roots; runs of wire to outbuildings; drain pipes or huge rocks even ?

Other Issues I haven't thought of ?

I've plowed my own rather large garden, and garden plots for others and have run into almost all of these issues. However, it's not really been any 'problem', since it's for me or just being a good friend and neighbor. I've never charged a dollar for ANYTHING I've ever done with my Loboy yet !

I'm anticipating the ramifications of these issues will be quite different between doing it for your neighbor for a couple of cold beers and some fellowship over some cold cash.

Looking forward to your input fellas.

Re: Garden Plowing for Cash ?

Tue Mar 02, 2010 10:54 am

You really thought this out. I give you a lot of credit. Most people just have an idea an go with it. I suspect for a lot of the reasons you raised and others many people began offering rototilling instead of plowing.

Re: Garden Plowing for Cash ?

Tue Mar 02, 2010 11:03 am

No rototilling for me...

I have to really watch letting my 18 year old brain talk my 51 year old body into things it shouldn't do ! :lol:

Re: Garden Plowing for Cash ?

Tue Mar 02, 2010 11:10 am

These are very similar to the issues professional landscapers, or excavation contractors face.

You WILL get customers that aren't happy with the tracks you made getting in and out, even if you warn them ahead of time.
You WILL break equipment on buried junk, get stuck, and be asked to plow areas that you simply can't get to with your tractor.

Your local cooperative extension will give you a price per acre for plowing. Use that as a starting point. You'll probably be best off charging a flat rate for the first so-much-area, and so much more for each additional 1/4 acre or so.

Lawn roller services pop up in the spring... $50 flat rate for most lawns is the going rate around here.

Re: Garden Plowing for Cash ?

Tue Mar 02, 2010 11:28 am

Some considerations:

A coworker used the company tractor and a borrowed plow to work up a garden. Plowed up a natural gas line.

Friend does gardens, lawn care and snow removal as a business. He uses a commercial grade/size rear tine tiller for gardens. Easier to transport than a tractor, plow, disk and harrow. One pass and he is done. Of course this is not for 2 or 3 acre plots. He charges $50- for a small plot, approximately 1500 sq feet (30' X 50').

Insurance, local ordnances, state taxes? Pays to find out before hand. Insurance may be prohibitive. May find out you need a local business license and a state sales tax permit/number.

I have two small garden plots at son's house. It's much faster for me to use a two wheeled garden tractor with plow to turn over the plot. If I used the Cub I'd have to load Cub, plow and disk. Transport 15 miles one way, unload, work the garden, then the reverse.

Edit. Cub and plow will not get into some garden plots that could be easily handled with a rototiller.

Re: Garden Plowing for Cash ?

Tue Mar 02, 2010 12:27 pm

I know a guy ( :mrgreen: ) that plows a lot of gardens.
(He) makes it a point that he is not a business, but that he has a tractor and plows and disc's gardens for "friends". The suggested donation is $50 for the first hr. (this covers the travel expense) and $25 hr after that. Most normal gardens can be plowed and disked in that first hr if an existing garden. Longer if it is large or new ground.

Rules, laws and liability are a crap shoot. For what you want to do to make some cash, you will not be able to follow all of the required "should have's" and be able to charge a price folks are willing to afford, and still make any money.

By the time you become a business, get insurance etc...... you would need to do it full time just to pay for that.

Use your head, and if it don't feel good (area, their personality etc..) walk away. if you can start with friends and relatives and get the word out by reference, you will do better with those that contact you.


Re: Garden Plowing for Cash ?

Tue Mar 02, 2010 5:04 pm

I always see a can of worms on stuff like this.I'm going to say that Dale has the best idea.I kind of use it as a trade off with my neighbors.Same with cutting ditches with the sickle mower.If I need welding done,its no charge.If you do it as a business,someone is always going to be unhappy and it will cost you in the long run.The ol days maybe.Now a days I would question doing it.It sounds like fun but gas lines and other stuff could cost you in the long run also.Just my 2cents.Kevin :shock: :shock:

Re: Garden Plowing for Cash ?

Tue Mar 02, 2010 7:10 pm

When i go o plow a new garden for someone, I have them call for a utility locate. That way I know what is where and dont get myself into trouble!


Re: Garden Plowing for Cash ?

Tue Mar 02, 2010 7:53 pm

Interesting question(s). Personal liability on your homeowners will cover you, but not if you are doing it for 'hire'. If you have to transport, the costs will grow quickly to the 'customer'

A number like $50/hour for you and a machine (including transport time) is very reasonable.... but something like hooking a giant rock could cost you dearly and that is nearly impossible to pass on to a customer.

I do like Kevin's idea, but it can be hard to find responsible people to deal with sometimes.

I want to get some $$ for mowing, but would settle for barn storage space or wine (lots of winery's around here these days with a nice grass strip between the vines).

Re: Garden Plowing for Cash ?

Tue Mar 02, 2010 7:59 pm

I plow my neighbors garden for them. I dont charge, but do get pies and cakes from time to time:D


Re: Garden Plowing for Cash ?

Tue Mar 02, 2010 8:31 pm

Make it a "suggested donation", cash only. If they;ve paid to have it done before they probably have an idea of appropriate amout. If it is'nt worth your time or not a close friend - next year you're "too busy"! Let's face it unless you're in an area where there are lots of them close together it's not going to be a profitable enterprise. Dusty B

Re: Garden Plowing for Cash ?

Tue Mar 02, 2010 9:08 pm

I have plowed and tilled gardens for lots of people over the years. I started out with a walk behind tiller and upgraded by convincing my FIL he needed a tiller for his JD 445. I plow peoples gardens in the fall for free, but in spring they call me to till and have plenty of customers that are next to each other that I just charge them 20 bucks. Granted most of these are no bigger than 1500 sq feet. I just enjoy plowing way to much, so I hate to charge. Tilling on a JD is easier, but I have to sit on a JD so that is why I charge. The 152 disc plow is nice for most gardens, because their lots are small and I can get in tight areas much easier.

Re: Garden Plowing for Cash ?

Wed Mar 03, 2010 7:29 am

Look at it a different way. Consider where you live. If you live in an urban area consider yourself as starting a new business. Be prepared for all the pitfalls you mentioned. If it's a rural area keep it as a friendly gesture. Do you really have the time and need the money? For myself I would like to keep the option of doing someone else s when I felt like it. If someone pays you $$ they have the right to complain. I would rather keep a friend than a customer.

Re: Garden Plowing for Cash ?

Wed Mar 03, 2010 7:46 am

I used to plow & disc gardens in my neighborhood, but it just got to be too much trouble. It seemed that when I had time, the weather wasn't fit and vice versa. I also came to realize that people around here are tight. I wasn't able to charge enough to make it worthwhile and if I left it up to them to decide how much I really got disappointed.
I bought a 4ft. tiller, for my Kubota, a few years ago, for my own use. I justify having the tiller by tilling for a few friends and letting trusted friends use it as well. I don't charge anything, but usually get favors in return. The good feeling I get from this are payment plenty.

Re: Garden Plowing for Cash ?

Wed Mar 03, 2010 8:08 am

That is the Joy of using these old tractors. Folks would rather have me plow and disc with the cub, just to watch, than use their tiller.

Making friends is what it is all about. The extra cash just gets reinvested in parts and repairs and another implement.