You don’t have to be a commercial grower to turn your gardening endeavors into profit. From the cities to the suburbs to the country, your passion for gardening can help you generate extra income if you do it right.
With a growing demand for fresh locally-sourced herbs and vegetables, a greenhouse grower of any size can capitalize off this trend.
One of the most important steps is to select what you want to grow. Some suggest sticking with a single crop that you can pour your efforts into, rather than an assortment of plants that may have different needs in terms of water, fertilization and shade.
Then you should realistically try to evaluate the volume of what you have the space and time to grow. From there, estimate plant production costs in relation to market prices to determine your profit margin.
Back to crop selection, if you’re just starting out, it’s best to begin with something that will set you up for success. These plants thrive in a greenhouse environment, and they are some of the most profitable crops you can grow.
Tomatoes. The most common greenhouse crop, tomatoes can also be quite prolific and, thus, profitable. Many varieties—cherry, grape, beefsteak and tomatoes on the vine—are available, and are popular as locally sold vegetable.
Lettuce. This hardy vegetable is available in many colors and varieties, ranging from cut to head lettuce, is relatively easy to grow, and is most profitable in local sales directly to the consumer.
Peppers. Maybe just as popular and with even more varieties than tomatoes, peppers do pose some challenges, as they are described as the most difficult greenhouse crop to grow. But they can be quite profitable nonetheless.
Cucumbers. The versatility of the cucumber makes it a popular crop, which makes it profitable for the grower. However, some cucumber varieties pose a challenge in keeping them fresh after a harvest. Still, organic and off-season cucumbers can draw higher prices.
Spinach. This is another leafy green that thrives in a greenhouse environment. Spinach has a tendency to grow quickly, depending on growing conditions. When grown and sold locally, it’s prized for its freshness and taste.
Herbs. Easy to start your growing (and selling) efforts with, herbs are in demand by grocery stores and restaurants. Some of the most popular are basil, chives, oregano, cilantro and parsley, and they can be packaged and sold dried or undried.
Strawberries. These berries can be another lucrative option for greenhouse growing. In-season strawberries are relatively inexpensive, but gardeners who can master some of the challenges of growing them—pest management and pollination, for example—can command high off-season prices.