Five Profitable Plants to Grow in Your Garden

In every market garden, there are some plants that make more money than others. Sometimes, this is because they are the most productive varieties but usually, it has more to do with their flavor, shelf life, and their "coolness factor" or trendiness. The most mundane plants, fruits and vegetables can become an easy sell if they've had the right kind of promotion or media attention or have won awards of some kind.

As a market gardener and entrepreneur, it's up to you to keep your finger on the pulse of the most in-demand varieties of the plants you are growing. This varies from region to region and among different groups of people. You can find out what your target customers are clamoring for in several ways:

  1. Ask them directly. This is a valuable practice but can be misleading. People often don't have a good idea of what kinds of fruits, vegetables and plants they like. Showing them good pictures and descriptions of the plants you're asking about can help you get more accurate information.
  2. Learn by trial and error. Your first several years in business, you may grow lots of varieties of the same type of plant (20 different types of tomatoes, for instance) and see which grow best for you and which sell best.
  3. Read newspapers and magazines, especially content that has to do with food or health. Food articles often mention fruit and vegetable varieties by name and prompt readers to try recipes that feature very specific types of produce. If Sun Gold tomatoes are praised by your local food writer, you'll sure be glad if you have some to sell. Otherwise, clip the article and show it to customers later in the season once you have grown some of the celebrity produce.

In the years that I have had my market garden, I've noticed that some plants and produce are nearly sure to gain a following and earn big sales. Your money makers will likely turn out to be different than mine are, but this will give you an idea of the surprising array of plants that can become "cash cows."

  1. Sun Gold tomatoes. Snack-sized, sweet and fruity, these little orange gems are all the rage!
  2. Nasturtiums for use as bedding plants. Large-seeded and easy to grow, these edible flowers often grow on compact plants that are spectacular when used as ornamental plants. Folks just eat 'em up.
  3. Basil plants. There are a seemingly infinite number of fragrant and beautiful basil plants to grow and sell. The seeds are cheap and the plants grow vigorously and quickly. Who could ask for anything more?
  4. Sunflowers. People love to buy sunflowers of all colors and sizes (moderately large ones seem to be the most eye-catching and popular). Make sure that you use sunflower varieties developed specifically for their use as cut flowers.
  5. Holland cucumbers. These are a long, slender, thin-skinned variety of cucumber that is best-suited for greenhouse production but does admirably outdoors as well.
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