by Erin Marissa Russell
When you’re starting a home market garden, one thing you’re bound to wonder about is which crops are the most profitable. After all, you want to get the most bang for your buck after investing lots of time, energy, and money into the crops that you grow. We’ve reviewed the profitability of commonly grown herbs and vegetables to come up with this list of the most profitable crops for a home market garden. We’ve taken into account the space each plant requires and how much attention the plants require from the gardener. For example, saffron is extremely profitable but is a fussy plant that requires a lot of care, so you won’t find it on this list. Keep on reading to get our recommendations for the eight most profitable crops for a home market garden.
Arugula’s peppery bite is a welcome addition to salads or sandwiches. This leafy green is also healthy as can be, containing calcium, folate, and potassium as well as lots of vitamins that promote heart and bone health. In the garden, it takes arugula just 40 days to go from seed to harvest.
Arugula should get you around $6 per pound at market.
For more information about cultivating arugula, you can read our article How to Grow Arugula.
Most of your customers will purchase basil to use it in the kitchen, in Italian sauces or pesto, on top of pizza, or tucked into a grilled cheese sandwich. That said, there is a group of customers who purchase basil to make medicine that’s used on problems from insect bites to snake bites to the common cold.
Basil is so profitable because, for one thing, it’s quick to reach maturity—at between three and four weeks. It’s also something that people truly love to use, so the product practically sells itself at market. If you are selling to any restaurants, you’ll probably find that they want to buy your homegrown basil.
Basil’s also convenient because the plants do well in containers, so you can move them around whenever you need to. For example, if the summer sun is just too much for your plants in a spot that was gently warmed by its rays in springtime, you can simply move the container to a spot that offers some afternoon shade. Or if you run out of space outdoors in your garden, you can move the basil plants in their containers to a windowsill indoors.
Basil sells for around three or four dollars an ounce, or $50 to $60 per pound.
For more information on cultivating basil, you can read our article How to Grow Basil.
Cherry tomatoes are the most profitable tomatoes you can grow, simply because their cost per pound is the highest of all the tomatoes at market. (This goes for grape tomatoes as well.)
Cherry tomatoes take between 45 and 80 days to go from seed to harvest. Most farmers find they can harvest at between 45 and 55 days. And better yet, after the quick maturation period, most of the cherry tomatoes out there are able to continue producing.
Just check to make sure that the variety of cherry tomato you are considering purchasing is indeterminate and not determinate so you’ll get a continuous harvest. Not sure about the difference between determinate and indeterminate tomatoes? Check out our article Determinate (Bush) Vs. Indeterminate (Vine) Tomatoes, Explained. Getting an indeterminate plant makes all the difference in making sure the plants you’re cultivating will be profitable.
Cherry tomatoes are worth around $3.48 per pound.
For more information on cultivating cherry tomatoes, you can read our article Growing Cherry Tomatoes.
In USDA Plant Hardiness Zones 3 through 10, chives are perennial and evergreen, meaning they won’t die or lose their leaves over the winter season. These plants are the epitome of low maintenance, requiring almost no attention from the gardener except for a bit of water once in a while. Not only do they stay green all year, they will keep growing for years to come.
Chives have a quick harvest period. You can harvest your chives 60 days after planting chive seeds or 30 days after transplanting chives into your garden.
Chives spread so easily that you may not want to plant them directly into the soil of your garden. It may work best for you to plant chives in a container where they are limited to a certain area. Otherwise, you may find that the chives multiply so quickly that they can take over whole areas of the garden.
Chives are worth around eight to 12 dollars per pound.
For more information on cultivating chives, you can read our article How to Grow Chives.
Gourmet varieties of garlic are much more lucrative than standard garlic. Whereas regular garlic goes for around $3.48 per pound at the grocery store, gourmet varieties will net you around $16 per pound. Another benefit is that you won’t have nearly as much competition as a seller of gourmet garlic, just because most people don’t sell gourmet garlic.
As a seller of gourmet garlic, you’re likely to find your clientele in the restaurant world or by networking in small culinary groups.
Gourmet garlic is worth around $16 per pound.
For more information on cultivating garlic, you can read our article How to Grow Garlic.
Gardeners in plant hardiness zone 5 through 9 can grow lavender as long as the plants get full sun, the soil drains well, and the weather is cold and humid.
You’ll probably have the best luck selling your homegrown lavender to florists, who will buy the blossoms either fresh or dried. You can also sell the flowers yourself to crafters or crafting supply stores. If you have extra fresh flowers, you can dry them and make them into dried floral arrangements or wreaths to sell.
Lavender is used in all kinds of products, from essential oil to soap to ice cream, so cast a wide net when you’re looking for businesses to sell to.
Lavender is a low maintenance crop. As long as it gets full sun and good drainage, lavender can be grown across a broad swath of different regions. Most of the time, lavender plants won’t need irrigation or fertilizer from the gardener. If you want to propagate more lavender, you can do it in a greenhouse with cuttings. It takes two years for lavender plants to begin flowering, but once they do, they’ll continue to come back and flower for 10 years or longer. Lavender plants grow quickly and are resistant to disease.
Dried lavender bouquets are recommended as the best way to make the most profit from your lavender planting. Just tie your lavender into bunches with twine and hang the bunches upside down in a shed, barn, or other spot with good ventilation and let them dry at least a week before taking them down to sell them.
One acre of lavender will make 12,000 bouquets in a year, and the bouquets can be sold for at least $10 each.
For more information on cultivating lavender, you can read our article How to Plant and Harvest Lavender.
Microgreens are made from all types of plants that you’d use in a salad, and they’re simply harvested between sprout and full-grown plant. Some of the most commonly grown microgreens include pea shoots, radish, or sunflower. While you can grow all types of microgreens, we recommend growing these most common types so your customers will be familiar with them.You harvest microgreens after their true leaves have appeared. They’re incredibly nutritious and tasty.
It takes about two or three weeks for microgreens to be ready to harvest after the seed is planted, and you can do so with success indoors or outdoors. Because of their small size, it won’t take a lot of space to grow them. This is one reason they’re one of the most profitable crops per square foot. Just five or six trays can start getting you a few hundred dollars per month.
Microgreens don’t have a very long shelf life, so you’ll want to sell them very soon after harvesting. Check into selling at farmer’s markets or to chefs, grocery stores, and wholesalers.
Microgreens are worth $20 to $50 per pound, or $10 to $25 per 10-inch by 20-inch tray.
For more information on cultivating microgreens, you can read our article How to Grow Microgreens: A Beginner’s 101 Guide.
Mini “Lunchbox” Sweet Peppers
There are so many different kinds of peppers to grow, but the ones that do the best at market are these miniature sweet peppers. Customers will snap up little baskets filled with the peppers in a few different colors. The peppers are sweet and delicious as snacks on their own, with a dip, or used in cooking. Their bright colors make any meal festive and pretty.
The pepper plants will produce harvest upon harvest if you care for them properly and make sure their needs are met. These plants need warm, slightly acidic soil and plenty of sunshine along with a long growing season. You can use small tomato cages to keep the peppers supported or simply use stakes.
For more information on cultivating miniature sweet peppers, you can read our article Growing a Plethora of Peppers.
Miniature sweet peppers are worth $5 per basket.
Now that we’ve covered which crops are most profitable, you have eight ideas to choose from. Grow just one crop throughout your garden, or mix and match a few different plants to get some variety.