Profit in Growing

Some people grow for enjoyment and some to make a bit of money on the side.

You know the saying, that if you love what you do – you’ll never work a day in your life.     So, why not make a little extra coin from what you love doing.

If you have a spare half-acre or even just a spare patch you could use this space to grow something to sell.      When people think of profitable crops their first thought is medical cannabis or illegal cannabis!

Micro-farms have been popping up all over the US and Canada and whilst medical cannabis can be found growing in some micro-farms over there in Australia we aren’t even close to that becoming a reality.      Here’s hoping it does become legal to micro-farm, it would be excellent for people looking to make a little extra on the side with a plant which has so many benefits.

Just like art plants have different price points based on how rare they are or the length of time it’s taken to cultivate.

Ginseng roots and bamboo all sell very well.    But, if you’re exceptionally talented growing something like a Shenzhen Nongke Orchid will gather you $200K in overseas markets.     If you really want to blow it out of the ballpark cultivate a very beautiful Juliet Rose, it’s known as the “£3 million rose” and it took David Austin, famed rose breeder 15 years to cultivate the apricot-hued hybrid rose.   If you really want to impress almost any grower then cultivate a Kadupul Flower.    Kadupul Flowers is an exotic blooming flower from Sri Lanka and, it’s sure to turn a few heads given it’s priceless!

If you really want to impress almost any grower then cultivate a Kadupul Flower.    A Kadupul Flower is an exotic blooming flower from Sri Lanka and it’s sure to turn a few heads given that the value is priceless!

Perhaps we are going a little overboard, we should really start at the beginning.    Here are our top plants for small crop producing with high profits for the average green thumb:

Ginseng Root
$400 a pound
Green thumb level:  Moderate

You can set up a Ginseng Farm for around $600.   If you have the right climate – if the area receives between 20 and 40 inches of rainfall annually, then you will be able to grow Ginseng.

Your acidity levels need to be a pH between 5.0 and 6.0, and you’ll need to check for disease, pests and that the area needs to be well drained.

Ginseng loves hardwood as a cover over top and there are three methods to “create” this environment.   One is the “artificial shade” method, which is usually too expensive for small growers, as the start-up costs are around $40,000.

The other two methods are “wild-simulated” and “woods-cultivated.”   Unless you have a few acres of dense hardwoods, you’ll probably want to use the woods-cultivated method.

In this method, you plant your ginseng under a canopy of hardwood trees.   Once you have plenty of seeds, roots and mature roots you are ready to wheel and deal on the open market.

Cut Flowers
Various prices
Green thumb level:  Moderate 

Great for markets, restaurants, cafes, florists or set up a weekend stall outside your place!       Great for the spring and summer time, there’s always as a market for cut flowers.

Here are some cut flower suggestions for a flower market sell out.

Ageratum

Clusters of long-lasting flowers in red, white and blue add color to bouquets.     With successive plantings, ageratum can produce continuous blooms from early summer to frost.

Scabiosa

Also called the pincushion flower, scabiosa is excellent for cutting and comes in a wide variety of colors, from white to dark. As with most cut flowers, plant every 2-3 weeks until midsummer for extended bloom harvest.

Larkspur

This relative of the buttercup has couple flowers and comes in a wide range of colors. Most seed suppliers offer color assortments so you’ll have a rainbow of blooms to harvest and mi into bouquets.

Snapdragon.

Best to start indoors and transplant.

Take 120 days to mature. Most growers plant a mil of 8-10 colors for variety.

Peony

With hundreds of varieties of this popular perennial, the hardest decision may be which ones to plant!   The large fragrant flowers are always a hit at the Saturday market.

Zinnias

Nothing fills out a bouquet quite like zinnias, with their brilliant colors, shapes, and sizes. The giant varieties are best sellers at the market.

Sunflowers

The early-blooming varieties – at under 60 days to harvest – are popular market sellers. Some growers prefer to sell individual stems at $4-$6 each.

Verbena Bonariensis

This popular flower produces lilac colored flowers on long, thin stems.

Salvia

Produces an abundance of flowers on its elongated stems. Many variety choices for a wide choice of colors, from scarlet to white.

Yarrow 

Also called Achillea millefolium, this popular annual comes in a variety of colors. It can be direct seeded or transplanted and is ready to harvest in around 90 days

Lavender

Deserves a separate mention under the cut flowers section.  Lavender farming can produce above-average profits for small growers, as it is such a versatile crop. The fresh flowers are sold in bundles or used for lavender oil.  The flowers are also easy to dry, for sales to florists and crafters to make wreaths and floral arrangements.

Lavender is also used to make value-added products such as sachets, herbal pillows, aromatherapy products and skin care products like soap. That’s the charm of growing lavender…nothing is wasted.

Herbs

Nothing better than freshly cut coriander, parsley or mint. Fresh organic herbs are enjoying a steady increase in demand at grocery stores and restaurants. You can also look to produce crops for products such as soaps, candles, teas and bath oils.

Garlic (also known as “the mortgage lifter”)
$10 a pound 
Greenthumb level:   Easy 

There are 3 types of gourmet garlic, also called hard-neck garlic. They are Rocambole, Purplestripe, and Porcelain, and once you have experienced their superior flavor, you’ll never want to go back to ordinary garlic again. That’s why customers are willing to pay high prices – as much as $10 a pound – to get their favorite varieties.

Another grower and customer favorite is Elephant garlic, whose large, mild cloves bring $6-$8 per pound. In good soil, an acre of Elephant garlic can yield 15,000 pounds. It is very hard to lose a crop of garlic crop, as it tolerates a wide range of soil and weather conditions. That’s why some growers call garlic the “mortgage lifter.”

Gourmet mushrooms
$7 a pound 
Greenthumb level:   Easy 

Mushrooms are an ideal specialty crop for urban farmers, as they are grown indoors and produce a very high return per square foot. The two most widely grown gourmet mushrooms are oyster and shiitake, which are available fresh or dried in many grocery stores.

Oyster mushrooms

Are especially productive and can produce up to 25 pounds per square foot of growing area every year.   At current prices of $7 a pound, that’s $17,500 worth of harvest from a 10 x 10 space.    Although both oyster and shiitake can be dried, most are sold fresh – an advantage for local growers who supply grocery stores and individuals at farmer’s markets.

Bamboo
$45 a plant
Greenthumb level:   Moderate 

Contrary to what you think you don’t need a lot of space to produce bamboo. Landscapers love this grass relative and they usually pick a species of bamboo to finish a garden ranging from dwarf Sasa bamboo that is barely a foot tall, to giant timber bamboo that can reach 75 feet in height.

You can grow container bamboo for landscapers and homeowners, digging is eliminated, and the plants take up far less space. In fact, over 600 bamboo plants in 5-gallon pots can be grown in a 30′ 40′ space.

Container landscaping bamboo brings high prices too, with the average plant fetching $45.

Bonsai plants
$200 upwards per plant
Greenthumb level:   Moderate 

From tiny trees the size of a finger to mature maples and pines just 18 inches high, Bonsai is enjoyed by thousands of people as a form of both art, philosophy, and meditation. This has led to a market for bonsai for hobbyists and collectors alike. Most commercial bonsai growers

Most commercial bonsai growers specialize in one of four areas – starter trays of several young, untrained trees or shrubs, starter plants in individual pots, trained plants that have been trained to their first ceramic pot, and specimen plants that can bring hundreds of dollars from collectors.

Becoming a bonsai grower requires very little growing area, as the plants are so compact, and a few hundred dollars for seeds or seedlings and supplies.

Landscaping trees and shrubs
$15 a plant 
Greenthumb level:   Moderate 

Trees and shrubs used for landscaping are a very profitable specialty crop for small growers, as the profit margins are huge and a large number of container plants can be grown in a small area.   For example, 1,500 two-gallon potted trees or shrubs can be grown in just 1,000 square feet.

Seedlings for most popular landscaping trees and shrubs are available from wholesale growers for less than a dollar each.   Add another fifty cents for a plastic pot and soil, wait two years, and you’ve got a $15 plant.

That’s a 750% markup, and that’s not uncommon for this profitable specialty crop.

If you know about other small crops to suggest please let us know and will update this post with your comments.

Happy growing.

Love the Gardenhood Team.