Chances are if you have a garden or a small farm, you most likely started out just because you a) enjoyed it or b) wanted to grow enough food to sustain your family (or perhaps a combination of both).
However, as you gain experience, you might be wondering how you can make a little extra cash on the side. While you can sell just about any type of plant if you have the right market, there are some crops that tend to fetch higher prices – and are more marketable – than others.
Here are some of the best plants to grow if you are thinking about making your garden or greenhouse profitable.
Lavender can be used in just about anything – from teas to essential oils to bath products to desserts. It’s a common medicinal herb that is thriving in the wellness space. As a result, it is highly marketable. Plus, lavender is easy to grow. You can grow lavender in a bed or in a container, and it thrives on neglect – it loves dry soils.
Basil is another herb that you should consider growing. Since it can be used in a variety of dishes, it’s remarkably easy to sell – particularly if you have a restaurant market. It thrives in warm, humid conditions and has the potential for multiple harvests per plant during a single growing season.
It can also be grown in a herb container garden if you’re short on garden space outside (or the right growing conditions).
Another popular space-saving herb is cilantro. It has a unique flavor and despite how easy it is to grow, most people don’t. Therefore, you will usually be able to sell it. It is popular in medicinal markets because it can be used as a digestive aid.
If you’ve ever grown chives, you probably already know how quickly and prolifically they grow. They can easily take over the rest of your garden!
Unlike a lot of herbs, they are super hardy. Once you get a chive crop established, it will keep coming back. You can plant chives just about anywhere in the United States and you’ll have to do little besides providing it with the occasional splash of water.
Oh – and harvest it. A lot.
5. Gourmet Garlic
Lots of people grow garlic, but very few people grow gourmet garlic. There are several varieties of garlic, such as Rocambole, that fetch much higher prices since they are rarer. You will likely find your market in restaurants and in small culinary circles with these most profitable crops.
Saffron is a spice made out of the bulbs of the saffron crocus, a purplish-blue flower that does well in sunny environments. You can grow saffron in a greenhouse, but you’ll need a fair amount of space – a single flower doesn’t produce a whole lot of saffron. However, it commands ridiculously high prices, so you won’t need a lot to make a profit.
Ginseng isn’t tough to grow, but it requires some patience. It can take up to ten years for ginseng plants to mature. Therefore, it fetches super high prices. So high, in fact, that one of the biggest challenges in growing ginseng is fending off poachers!
If you grow ginseng, expect it to take a long time to get started – and make sure it’s grown in a protected area where you don’t have to worry about any suspicious activity. Otherwise, once it has become established, you can expect major profits.
Lots of people grow leafy greens, but arugula is one of those leafy greens that is highly sought after. It’s popular in trendy circles, particularly in restaurants that specialize in farm-to-table menus. If you decide to grow Arugula, you could also sell it at a farmer’s market.
If corn surprises you with its appearance on this list, just wait a second. Corn is easy to grow, sure – and plenty of people produce it. It requires a fair amount of space, too, but there’s an equally large demand for its production. It can be used from anything to animal feed to cooking to fuel, so if you grow corn, you won’t have a hard time selling it.
3. Cherry Tomatoes
Just about anybody can grow a tomato, but cherry tomatoes are small, quick-maturing, and can make you a lot of money.
You can pick cherry tomatoes constantly throughout the season, making this type of tomato the perfect option for people who want to make a buck. A single pint of cherry tomatoes won’t make you rich, but it’s this plant’s ability to keep producing that really makes it a moneymaker.
Microgreens sound fancy, but the concept behind them is anything but. These small plants are often used for miniature salads or as garnishes for main dishes. They are quick to grow, ready for sale in just two weeks. They can be grown indoors or outside, making them perfect for urban gardeners. The best part? They sell for $20 to $30 per pound.
Wheat is found all over the Great Plains states and is a highly marketable crop. However, what you probably don’t know is that it can be grown on a smaller scale in your own backyard. It doesn’t take up as much space as you might think, and there are several varieties of wheat that are perfect for home growers, producing exceptionally high yields.
Sorghum is a less common type of grain that’s often used in beverages and syrups. It does well in warm climates, so if you live in a warm growing zone, this cash crop might be for you.
It’s recently gained popularity because it is a crucial ingredient for craft beer and homebrewing – you won’t have any trouble selling it. Just as a point of interest, we even have a post on how to make moonshine and still plans.
If you’ve ever searched for easy-to-grow ornamental plants, hostas were probably first on your list. These plants are popular in landscaping and can easily be divided. One plant can quickly lead to dozens more! They’re inexpensive yet can fetch high prices when you sell them to consumers.
2. Goji Berries
The only fruit on our list, goji berries can be grown at home and are considered a “hot” crop at the moment. Goji berries were recently classified as a superfood, which makes them popular among the health and wellness crowd.
They are packed to the brim with vitamins and antioxidants and are used in organic juices, bowls, and even herbal tea recipes. They are hardy plants too, with the ability to thrive in dry climates.
A small tree, this evergreen is a popular landscaping species. It doesn’t take quite as long as some other trees to become established, so you can sell it either as a fully grown tree or in a small pot.
4. Shiitake Mushrooms
Shiitake mushrooms are popular at specialty food stores, within health and wellness markets, and even with restaurants. These mushrooms, along with other types of gourmet mushrooms can be grown quickly and with minimal care at home. Often, all you need to get started is the spawn and a log in a damp, dark location. Here we share inside tips on how to make a profit from Shiitake Mushrooms.
Mushrooms produce a high return per square feet – some varieties produce up to 25 pounds per square foot of space! And most cultivars go for at least $7 per pound.
5. Woody Ornamentals
Woody ornamentals are trees, shrubs, and other plants whose branches are harvested and sold to florists or individual crafters. Most of these will have colorful stems or attractive berries, flowers, or buds. Some to consider include pussy willows, hydrangeas, Red Twig dogwood, or forsythia.
These are good options for your profitable garden because they can be harvested over and over again for decades – plus, there’s the potential for a year-round harvest.
If you’re shaking your head in disbelief, stop that right now! Bamboo is huge – and it grows quickly. You can grow a ton of bamboo without a lot of space, and it’s easy to grow as a potted plant. If you have a greenhouse where you can keep temperatures relatively warm and stable, that’s all the better.
Contrary to popular belief, bamboo is not just a tropical plant, either. There are cold-hardy varieties that can handle sub-zero winters!
7. Cut Flowers and Bulbs
It takes some space, time, and effort to cultivate cut flowers or bulbs, but if you have time on your hands, you can make quite a lot of money selling flowers.
You can easily sell these to consumers or to local businesses since very few people want to take the time to grow their own decorative flowers. Plus, the start-up costs are low – you will just need a few dollars for seeds.
Tips for Making Money Selling Your Own Crops
1. Gain Experience with Gardening
You wouldn’t open an accounting business if you had never taken a single accounting course. Similarly, you shouldn’t start a business based on gardening if you’re totally green (and not in a good way!).
Get some experience under your belt and don’t make your first year gardening your first year with a gardening business.
Have a few seasons’ worth of experience, and make sure you have plans in place to deal with tricky situations like drought or disease outbreak – this will give you the confidence necessary to have a productive enterprise.
2. Pick the Right Avenue
Before you put anything in the ground, you need to make a decision about where you are going to sell your products. If you’re selling gourmet food, you’re probably going to have a hard time selling it at the grocery store!
Here are some other avenues:
Farmer’s markets are great for most sellers – but it does depend on what you’re selling. If you head to the farmer’s market with a basket full of tomatoes, you probably aren’t going to do as well because everybody is selling tomatoes. If, however, you are selling ginseng or gourmet garlic, you can expect to clean up.
Roadside stands are also good markets for more unique, most profitable crops – but depending on where you live, you might be able to make good money selling run-of-the-mill crops there, too.
It’s all about location. If you live on an isolated backroad, your roadside stand probably isn’t going to draw crowds no matter what you’re trying to sell. However, if you live on a busy road – particularly one where roadside stands aren’t common – you will be infinitely more successful.
Pick Your Own
Pick your own farms are growing in popularity as agrotourism increases people’s interest in the entire farm-to-table “experience.”
People love cutting their own trees, picking their own fruit, and harvesting their own crops. If you have the facilities for it (and often, the insurance), you may want to consider opening a pick-your-own business.
Plus, you don’t have to waste any of your own time harvesting the most profitable crops – the customers will do it for you!
If you have a market for direct sales, this is one of the easiest ways to sell your profitable crops. For example, if you have a network of consumers that you know are interested in buying your Shiitake mushrooms, you won’t have to do anything else in order to market them. Your market is already there.
The restaurant scene can be tough to break into – but it’s one of the best if you’re looking for profit that is reliable and consistent.
A restaurant will likely be able to put in an order that is long term, often ordering enough of your most profitable crop to last the entire year. Contracts are often on the table, too. This is a great option if you can find it because you won’t have to worry about unpredictable supply and demand scenarios.
3. Make the Most of Your Space
You don’t need a ton of space in order to make money with a garden. In fact, you can grow many of the most profitable crops I told you about indoors (or even, with some of the herbs, in a window box garden).
If you have limited space, make the most of it. Build raised beds or consider a square foot gardening technique. Use companion plants so that the plants that you grow can feed off each others’ unique benefits.
4. Extend Your Growing Season
If your growing season is limited, consider extending the time you have available by erecting a hoop house or a greenhouse.
You may not be able to grow cherry tomatoes in the dead of winter, but you might be able to get seeds started and a crop going long before other gardeners can.
One More Tip for Making Money With The Most Profitable Crops
One final tip? Make sure your product is attractive! Don’t just dump your gourmet garlic or arugula or whatever it is into a bucket and hand it over to the customer.
Put the produce in lovely baskets or order personalized tags for your plants. Include recipe cards so people know how to cook with it! There are plenty of options you can include that will allow you to fetch higher prices for your crops.
Good money can be made by selling the most profitable crops. You can grow many of these crops without a full-time commitment (perfect for the average person trying to run a small farm), but it takes a solid decision and planning from you before you plant that first seed.
We trust our selection of the most profitable crops will make that decision easier, and you will now know which avenues to explore.