If you want to get started growing vegetables for profit, it can be a very rewarding experience, especially if you grow them organically. Today there is a huge demand for organically grown fruits and veg, and as the most expensive crops on the market, it is well worth the extra effort it takes to avoid spraying with pesticides and taking the time to weed by hand rather than using weedkillers. Those are the most profitable crops you can retail for a premium.
There are plenty of natural ways to reduce the effort of weeding, such as mulching, (using a thick layer of organic substances such as seaweed or grass clippings to not only keep the weeds down but also to feed the growing plants). This article is written in order to give you a good basis for the choice of plants to cultivate if you plan to sell them on so that they bring you in an income or if you merely want to save yourselves money by growing the expensive crops in order to avoid paying retail prices for them.
Depending on the amount of land you have available, you may be able to devote space per acre or per square foot, and even if you’re short on land, you could devote various indoor areas for different plant types, giving a diversified income stream from any space you can use, inside or out.
Growing Organic Produce for Profit, Fun and Better Health
Many varieties of profitable crops are so easy to grow, the labour involved in the business makes a terrific pastime too and it’s tremendous for your health. Gardening is a proven way to lower your stress levels and lower your blood pressure. That’s the same if you’re short on outdoor space as there are plants that can be grown inside all year, such as goji berries, which can be considered a specialty crop when grown entirely indoors throughout the year using specialist lighting equipment to successful harvest crops in imitated climates.
Choosing the plants to grow for-profit largely depends on a balance between what veggies are the most expensive to buy per pound in the shops, yet at the same time cultivate the produce that’s most in-demand. It is all very well growing expensive plant species such as Artichokes, but how many people actually use them in their kitchens!
It’s far better to grow low maintenance and easy to grow plants that can be sold for a premium price and are seen regularly on restaurant menus where you and I always order them as a side dish because we enjoy them. The majority of those side dishes start as plants and are a cash crop for regular gardeners smart enough to trade within the hospitality sector rather than relying solely on farmer’s markets to sell marginally-profitable high-yield plants.
The Importance of Growing the Right Type of Plant
I have been growing veggies most of my life and have already realized that if growing for a profit or a business, certain plants and even some specialty crops are not cost-effective if you only have a relatively small area of land where you’d only be able to plant a couple of plants per square foot. If you can harvest more per acre, you could have more plants to cater to premium fruits and veg varieties while maintaining enough land per acre to cultivate the most affordable in-demand produce with a lower profit margin. Volume has its place!
With limited space, you need to value every inch you have and try to grow products that will produce a good return both in terms of quantity and demand. Growing a specialty crop is a better way to go when you can only commit to plants grown indoors or limited outdoor space.
The 10 Most Expensive and Profitable Vegetables to Grow…
To illustrate my point, veg such as carrots, onions, and potatoes may taste wonderful when grown at home, but unless they are solely for you and your family to eat, they are not very profitable to grow. The hotels and restaurants will be unwilling to pay more than a few pounds for a sack of either of them and they can easily take up a large area of land and effort for only a minimal return financially. Specialty crops, on the other hand, can fetch as much as 25 pounds per sack, which suggest growing a few rows of standard crops for your own use, but concentrate your efforts on other specialty crops in order to bring in an income or save yourselves a considerable amount of money on buying produce you can harvest from plants grown organically.
In my experience the best specialty crops for maximizing your profits per pound are as follows:
1. Courgettes / Zucchini
Courgettes are very expensive to buy retail. My local supermarket is selling three small courgettes (zucchini) for over £2.00. Bearing in mind that each courgette plant can produce 20 courgettes or more over a season, this means that filling a large area of your land with courgettes can potentially generate many pounds in income. I try to grow at least thirty courgette plants a year now, and each plant requires about 1 square meter of land.
2. Mangetout Peas
These are a flat podded pea harvested early and a great favorite in restaurants. 100 grams of these retail at around £2.00 in most shops. A row of twiggy canes will host many of these plants and they, in turn, will offer a good crop of pods for you to sell on to your local restaurant or shop.
3. Spring Onions / Scallions
Spring Onions (Scallions) is an easy crop to grow and these retail at about 90 pence for around eight onions. They are popular fora salad onion and delicious in sandwiches and are used in the majority of summer salads by a huge percentage of the population.
Radishes, crazily enough, although these crops grow to maturity in around 6 weeks, they are fairly expensive to buy as a vegetable. A small bag holding about 150 grams will still cost you the best part of a pound to buy in a supermarket. Better still they can be grown as a “row marker” with slower to mature crops such as spring onions, beetroots, carrots, etc, and can be harvested before the main crop in the row requires the space.
5. Runner Beans
Runner beans are a delicious and always in-demand crop yet a small handful of beans, (maybe a dozen) are priced at well over a pound. One of the best reasons to grow this profitable bean is the fact they take up little space because being climbers, their cropping space is largely vertical rather than horizontal.
6. French / Green Beans
As above, only French or Green Beans are even more expensive to buy. The very young beans are sold for nearly £2.00 for about 150 grams in the average supermarket. Again they take up little room as they are growing vertically.
Beetroot, if harvested when small (golf ball sized), these are a pricey vegetable to buy. Even four of these can be over a pound retail once prepared by boiling. Of course, selling them to your local hotel or restaurant will not require you to prepare them yourself, but they will still pay a good price for them.
Asparagus is quite possibly the most profitable crop of all to grow if you have the patience to wait until they can be harvested. From seed, it will take three years, or grown from crowns, about two years. However, you will have an ongoing crop for anything from fifteen to twenty-five years afterward. Although each year your harvest period is only six to eight weeks, the price of these is very high, and each row will produce pounds of asparagus per year. Currently, about 100 grams of baby asparagus spears retails at about £2.50 in our local supermarket.
Leeks are another high-value crop, although the growing season can be rather long. Mind you, look at the price in the supermarket for three or four of them and you may be quite shocked. They are a little more tricky to grow as you may well need to plant most varieties in a hole and water carefully in order to ensure a long, thick, white stem to the resulting leak. I can’t be sure of the exact current price but know it is well over £1.00 for about three of these.
If you have access to a greenhouse so much the better as the indoor cucumbers are exactly the same as you buy in your local supermarket and lack the spines outdoor cucumbers have on their skins. You can get away with growing these in a sunny sheltered spot outdoors, (such as against a south-facing wall). Each plant will produce about fifteen to twenty cucumbers in a season, and these usually retail at about 89 pence or more in the supermarket. An essential ingredient in any salad, most families use these and therefore they are in high demand. Again a vertical crop ensures maximum return on a minimal amount of space, and these can be grown in a grow bag so they’re perfect for those with limited space.
There are other crops you can grow that are also quite profitable, but I think the ones I have listed above are the best choices in terms of demand and price. If you are thinking of taking up vegetable growing for profit I would advise you to get a decent size plot of land and concentrate on profitable crops. Even if you don’t have the land of your own, you can rent a piece of land relatively cheaply if you look around. Where I live, a field can be rented for about £600 per year, and assuming you can confirm it is horticultural land, (therefore no restrictions on plowing and cultivating it), the returns on your vegetable growing can cover this easily. If you intend to grow a long-term crop such as asparagus please make sure you get a lease that is long term.
Good Luck in your new vegetable growing business.