This time of year, around me, you get a lot of gardeners selling surpluses from outside their houses. Would questions about selling be on or off topic?


  • Is it legal in Canada to sell surplus beans outside my house?
  • Is it best to wash and scrub my surplus carrots before offering them for sale?
  • Which surplus crops are likely good sellers?
  • What's a good way to guage the right price for selling a surplus?
  • Do I need to state the weight of any fruit sold loose?

Does it make a difference what point of view the questioner comes from ie?

  • commercial operation
  • just recovering some costs
  • purely for fun

I think all of the questions listed above would be off-topic for this site, because they fall outside the purview of gardening fair and square.

1) Is it legal in Canada to sell surplus beans outside my house?

We don't deal with legal issues on this site.

2) Is it best to wash and scrub my surplus carrots before offering them for sale?

Produce sold for consumption is regulated differently in different countries. Since most (if not all) folks on this site are home gardeners and not commercial farmers, the answers are bound to be incomplete/inaccurate/misleading/subjective.

3) Which surplus crops are likely good sellers?

Subjective, off-topic and besides, candidates for "good selling crops" vary from region to region depending on the local climate, culinary tastes and economy.

4) What's a good way to gauge the right price for selling a surplus?

"Right price" requires a knowledge of demand and supply in the local market. This depends on the local economy and is off-topic for a gardening site.

5) Do I need to state the weight of any fruit sold loose?

This is again a legal issue depending on where you live. Not related to gardening.

It is important to distinguish between the science/art/hobby of cultivating/working with plants in the garden and things a gardener does with his surplus. While the former is of interest to most gardeners, the latter is of interest only to those who happen to live in the same area, grow the same crops and have a significant surplus to think about selling and as such, is also localized, in addition to being off-topic.


I don't think we need a blanket prohibition on questions regarding selling crops. But as yoda mentions, these are tricky to pose without being too localized. I agree with some of yoda's points about why some of the given example questions are off-topic (legal / too localized).

However, I disagree with the statement "Once the carrots are grown and out of the ground, what is done with it afterwards is no longer a concern of this site." -- I think some post-harvest questions are perfectly valid. E.g. keeping cut flowers alive for display; "why did my basil turn black?"; disposing of plant wastes ("are brassica roots dangerous?"); possibly some storage questions, especially in the context of overwintering/root cellaring for replanting.

What's a good way to gauge the right price for selling a surplus?

This question, as posed, is not automatically too localized. Assuming the question is on-topic, it can be answered a way that is not localized, for example by listing strategies for determining your price: "1. Drive around your neighborhood, look at what other people are charging. 2. Set a price that's half of what they're charging at the supermarket. 3..." -- this is an example, not a good answer ;)

Other questions that I'd consider to be on-topic:

  • How can I keep my lettuce [carrots, basil, etc] looking fresh while it's sitting on my roadside stand?
  • What's the best time of day to pick produce when preparing it for sale?
  • Will my peas [tomatoes, etc] last more than one day on display?
  • I agree my phrasing was too strict, given the alternate perspective re: basil, cut flowers, etc. that you've provided. However, I stand by my point that questions on selling surplus are off-topic. Re: "localized", my point was that it is localized in addition to being off-topic. You're confusing being able to answer a question in general terms with on-topic. Those are separate concepts and a question can be on-topic but unanswerable and vice-versa. Aug 9 '11 at 16:09
  • @yoda: Not confused -- I consider selling surplus to be on-topic in addition to being answerable. My phrasing above does conflate the two things though; I will edit.
    – bstpierre
    Aug 9 '11 at 16:17
  • @yoda: Does intent matter? The example questions I posed about keeping lettuce looking fresh or time of day to harvest could be asked in a different context. Would you consider them on-topic if the asker doesn't have commercial intent?
    – bstpierre
    Aug 9 '11 at 16:23
  • @bstpierre - A good question is a good question. If the intended use is off topic, but the heart of the question is on topic then we should remove the intended use. This changes it from being a question that is more localized to a broader more useful question
    – wax eagle
    Aug 9 '11 at 16:39
  • I would say yes, because it sets the tone for the answers. I don't necessarily think your examples are off-topic (1&3 should be rephrased), because the focus is on harvesting the plant correctly/keeping it fresh. On the other hand, the examples in the question focused on the surplus sale part (e.g, legality, cleanliness, pricing, etc.) and is not fit for the site. Here's a better litmus test: Replace <veggies> with <home-baked-cookies>. If the answers you expect to get will still be valid, then it is off-topic. You can easily see that your examples pass this litmus test, whereas Tea's don't. Aug 9 '11 at 16:44
  • @wax eagle: When you say "if the intended use is off topic ... remove the intended use", do you think it is forbidden to talk about commercial activity on this site?
    – bstpierre
    Aug 9 '11 at 17:00
  • @bstpierre - not at all. Its just that if its not relevant to getting a good answer its noise to me. If the question can stand alone apart from its intended use (in this case sale) then the use is noise.
    – wax eagle
    Aug 9 '11 at 17:02

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