Growing a high income market garden
Growing a high income market garden is within the reach of most growers. It's possible to gross $40,000 or more from a one-acre garden, but achieving this revenue depends on careful crop selection, good marketing, and efficient work methods.
Planning assumptions for the high income market garden
First, its not what you make, its what you keep. In other words net income is more important than gross income. For example, green salad mix (mesclun) is a high-value crop on a per square foot basis, but the cost to pick and clean and dry it before packaging is also high. Be aware of the labour cost of your crops - even if you are doing all the picking yourself.
Crop selection for the high income market garden
I love my garden!
Here's what I would grow in my high income market garden, with a rationale for each crop.
But they are time consuming to harvest. Picking a pound of tomatoes takes 5 seconds; a pound of beans, 5 minutes. They are popular, so grow some, but be aware of the cost. You won't make a lot of profit on beans
And digging a few hundred (or thousand) feet of potatoes by hand may be more exercise than you want. If you want to grow potatoes for your customers grow some specialty 'fingerling' types.
I do devote a little greenhouse space to an early crop of carrots and beets, here's why. All the root crops require diligent weeding and thinning to produce good-sized roots. They also all have the potential to stretch the season. I would recommend devoting some garden space to the first three; I wouldn't grow rutabaga unless you had customers that specifically ask for it.
Big bed of early beets in my greenhouse
If you want to grow cole crops, stick to cabbage and broccoli – cauliflower is finicky, and more easily damaged by weather and bugs than the others. Leave it out of your high income market garden.
Be aware that I absolutely cannot grow broccoli or cabbage without row cover;
the bugs just love these crops. This adds to the labour cost. Some of
the more unusual cabbages command a higher price (Tall Michilli is a
favorite of mine)
But as a sideline, growing a few hundred bedding plants alongside your other plants can bring a nice early cash flow to your garden. You can read more about How to start a backyard nursery here
Laying out your high income market garden
So to wrap it all up, what would your high-income market garden look like? Here's an idea of the space to allocate for each crop, based on profit, popularity, and growing room needed.
Two final notes about the above:
1 - I didn't allocate garden space to the bedding plants; they will be mostly grown in your greenhouse.
2 - this is not a prescription; consider this list of plants just a starting place for your own research and planning to build your own high income market garden.
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