profitable greenhouse crops...

billinsc(7B SC)May 9, 2005

I was thinking of putting up a few greenhouses to supplement our income.. What'ts the most profitable crop that can resonably be grown in the greenhouse? I figure maybe tomatoes in the winter. Do you folks have suggestions to the most profitable crops? (with the least amount of overhead)

Bill in SC

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stef239(z7 NC)


I was told by our local co-op produce manager last year that if I brought her small bell peppers (the ones that come in different colors), she'd buy them all from me - for a good price.
I sold them some of my chile peppers because last fall I had more than I knew what to do with, and she mentioned something like "if you really want to make money, grow small bell peppers instead of chile peppers".


    Bookmark   May 9, 2005 at 7:50PM
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billinsc(7B SC)

The peppers seem interesting, and they are easy and quick to grow and yield quite well.. I will put them on my "things to consider" folder. I anxiously await other replies pertaining to other crops I might consider. I do realize that it will probably take about 4 years to realize a profit with a new greenhouse. I also realize the amount of work it will take to get going and maintain.. One good thing about it is that it won't seem like work, as growing things is my favorite pastime!! (: Bill in SC

    Bookmark   May 9, 2005 at 9:18PM
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Are you currently a grower? (if so ignore the rest)
What are you trying to accomplish? What's your goals?
Are you looking to wholesale G/H veggies or retail spring flower sales? What's the market in your area? What needs to be filled? Do you have folks ready to purchase the product before you started growing or will you try to sell after you have the crop ready? How big are you houses going to be? Is it ok to build these houses on your property? Have you got your growers licenses yet?
I could go on and on.
Your question is a little vague (that's ok I do it too)
Please help us out and we can suggest away.
All our crops are profitable "if we sell them all" And what do you consider profitable? Are you planning on living on the income?
Let us know.

    Bookmark   May 10, 2005 at 11:43AM
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i have seedlings 2" tall,got the seeds from peppers
i bought from Costco, how tall do these plants grow
could not
find these seeds in any catalogue i have
so no information

    Bookmark   May 10, 2005 at 11:51AM
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Patris(9 Gulf Coast)

You might try the Market forum here. They have lots of info on what to grow in different areas. They also have help with pricing, packing, and marketing.

Hope this helps and love your eagerness!

Here is a link that might be useful: Market forum

    Bookmark   May 10, 2005 at 12:28PM
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billinsc(7B SC)

Sorry I was so vague Mylu. Once again, I was just thinking of putting up a few greenhouses (3 or 4) approximately 30X20. I have the property and the other issues such as license, etc. should pose no problem. I mainly want to supplement our income. If I could realize $200 to $300 per month profit, I would be happy. If I could make more than that, I would be estatic! Tomatoes were selling for over 3 bucks per pound here last winter. I grow tomatoes quite well outside, and was hoping to be able to grow them in a greenhouse just as easily. I surely could sell all I could grow in the winter. I could use one greenhouse to propagate hardwood cuttings of boxwoods and such, which I realize would take at least 4 years to turn a profit. Also with the cuttings greenhouse, all I would have to do is keep it above freezing, and not as warm as I would a veggie greenhouse. I was mainly interested in finding out what the absolute MOST PROFITABLE greenhouse crop is. Surely there are some crops that realize huge profits, while other crops are best avoided. I am flexable and could go in any PROFITABLE direction. I was also thinking of heating the greenhouses with wood heaters placed outside the greenhouses with the flue pipe running the length of the greenhouse overhead. I realize I may need humidifiers with this setup, and I welcome any pros and cons to wood heat. It would seem that I could save an enormous amount of money heating with wood as I cut my own and have plenty of it. I was also thinking of making my own compost on a large scale, as growing medium can be quite costly. Any and all ideas will be studied and appreciated..
Bill in SC

    Bookmark   May 10, 2005 at 12:42PM
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Not a problem I love this type of conversation. I just posted this on another thread.

Rule one:
The Smaller the house the harder it is to control the environment.
Rule two:
Always buy the widest house you can. You can always go longer.
Rule Three: (forgot to add this one on my other post)
Always have a backup plan for heat, electricity, water. They will go out and it will happen.

Buy two bigger houses instead of the smaller. In the long run it's more cost effective. So this option would lead you down the road for more profit.

Zone 7. You should be able to grow toms with out much heating at night but the crop will grow better with warmer nights. Then you have to think about pollination. Get the bees ready! Or hand pollinate 200 to 300 toms.

Talk to some restaurants in your area and see if they will be interested in you supplying them with fresh greens and herbs. Find out what they use and get them to agree to purchase your produce before your grow it. No wasted space on things you thought they would like. I would think if you could talk them in to you supplying all thier needs you both will be better off.

As for the boxwoods. Propagate them in the fall but then wouldn't you move them outside to over winter them in a cold frame? Better yet you could plant them in the ground and sell field grown crops. That would give you new starts every year and always keep your supply (in four years coming) It will also clear out the house for your winter veggies.

Definitely setup an auto irrigation setup. With all that growing you won't have the time to hand water. Another money saving solution. Don't forget the fertilizer injector.

To keep the income coming all year you are going to have to setup different crops in the different houses. And plant them/move them accordingly.

As for profitability per crop. I'm not sure if that can truly be answered. At our nursery we make little profit on our veggies but that brings in the farmers and their wives who just have to have a planter or something else that catches their eye. Our goal is to make a profit off every thing we sell and then add it up at the end of the year.

Wood heat. What is your reason for wanting to use it?
My list of Pros and cons.
Pros. Hmm IÂm thinkingÂ
No propane bill
No propane bill
Environmentally friendly? Depends on who you are talking to.
No propane billÂ.
Ok thatÂs all I got.

Heat Fluctuates
Have to cut a lot of wood.
Hard to set up maintain/clean
Harder to disperse the heat through out the green house.
Have to solve the hot ash on the plastic issueÂ
Have to go in the rain and cold to add wood
Have to cut a lot of wood.
Have to cut a lot of wood.
Have to cut a lot of wood.
Have to cut a lot of wood.

If youÂre wanting to be profitable you need to control as many aspects of your growing as you can. Leave nothing to chance. Your fire WILL go out on the ONE night it freezes and you WILL lose your crops to freeze. MurphyÂs LawÂ.
Not that this wonÂt happen with a propane heater but itÂs less likely.

Diversify or specialize. ThatÂs the nicheÂ.

    Bookmark   May 10, 2005 at 4:25PM
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Hi Bill. Please contact your County Extension Agent and ask for advise locally. If you have a saavy Agent, they can provide a wealth of information.

I'm unsure where you are located or what your customer base would be. There are many possibilities to supplement your income with home-based businesses, as you know, but without a customer base, you have no sales. Would your cusomter base be wholesale and/or retail? With retail, there is usually more work, however, there is a higher return for your labor.

Diversity would be prudent but will also add to your work load. I have a number of friends with successful GH business endeavors. Their business are:

1. Perennial plants started from seed in early August, then 'overwintered' in a large hoop GH with no heat (Zone 6/7). In early spring, these plants begin to emerge and are sold retail at nearby garden shows/markets. Delivery, set-up, retail sales involved.

2. GH tomatoes, grown in cold months w/ wood-heated hoop GH, and sold wholesale to nearby processing facility for tomato dried retail market. Delivery and wholesale sales involved.

3. Fresh produce (both organic and conventional farming methods) sold to area restaurants. Involves requests for the restaurant fare, 'special orders', and scheduled delivery to restaurants.

4. Fresh produce (both organic and conventional farming methods) for road-side retail marketing.

5. Vegetable seedlings for sale to retail customers. On-site retail sales.

6. Annual flowers grown for wholesale dried-flower market. Includes delivery to wholesaler for purchase, some heat required for germination in springtime. Flowers can be transplanted for field-grown annuals if space available.

Hope these ideas help.

    Bookmark   May 11, 2005 at 7:46AM
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