What to grow in a VERY Small Market Garden

by Scott K

I recently had an inquiry from a reader who wanted to know how best to use a small piece of land as a market garden.

Here's the set-up: This new grower was approached by a Family Farm (like a petting zoo) that is on about 40 acres. They asked if he would consider starting a garden for them to sell produce from the general store.

The area that would be about 50' x 75' or approximately 3,750 sq ft. They are not looking to start a CSA, just to have stuff in the store to sell or have people come to the garden to pick and then when they leave the farm pay.

Here's my recommendation: 3,750 sq ft will not provide a very big income, probably max sales of between $5,000-$7,500 if you use intensive gardening techniques.

You would need to focus on 1) - high-value crops, and 2) - crops that can be harvested by unskilled individuals (if you go the pick-your-own route).

Starting list I would consider would be tomatoes, cucumber, sugar snap peas (all of which have the advantage that they can be grown on trellises to save space), peppers, snap beans, and carrots.

As a starting place for space planning, lets assume you make 36 beds each 100 sq ft (this is just to give you an idea) I would allocate beds as follows:

  • carrots 8 beds

  • tomatoes 7 beds

  • sugar snap peas 7 beds

  • snap beans 6 beds

  • cucumber 4 beds

  • peppers 4 beds

I would plan 2 plantings for tomatoes, cukes and peppers, a spring and fall planting for the peas, and re-plant the beans and carrots about every two weeks throughout the season.

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