Home garden cash crops?

oldpaddyFebruary 3, 2011

I have a 1/8-1/4 acre that I think I'm going to clear out in the summer for a garden the following year. I was wondering if there was a cash crop that I could grow. Thanks.

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I had a neighbor who as a teen grew pumpkins and then sold them at the end of his driveway. If you are artistic, birdhouse gourds can be made into a variety of items, including painted or burned bowls, birdhouses, etc.

Having not sold any of them, I don't know how much money is involved in either.

    Bookmark   February 3, 2011 at 10:37PM
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Around here (Boston MetroWest) the corn growers get 65 cents an ear for corn. Which is why I grow my own.

Pumpkins are also a good idea - I also started growing my own since it would cost me $40-50 to get 3 pumpkins for our front steps at the PYO Pumpkin Patches.

I'm also amazed at how much $$$ people will spend on cut flowers. A woman down on the main road has a self-service cut flower stand - she charges $10 for a bouquet of 3 peonies. I've considered doing the same, but I'm in a cul-de-sac sub-development so I wouldn't get any traffic.

    Bookmark   February 4, 2011 at 8:15AM
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Cut flowers definitely. But the one thing I'd pay almost anything for and cannot be bought in any grocery store is a true home-grown tomato.

I don't have the sun to grow my own and would give anything to buy the real thing. Even the ones at "farm stands", which often bring at least some of their produce from other sources, don't taste great.

Grow TOMATOES is my vote!

    Bookmark   February 4, 2011 at 10:18AM
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runktrun(z7a MA)

I am with Ginny but leaning more towards cut flowers because the season for tomatoes is so short.
It is a real challenge to have a cutting garden that has a good balance of flower color, shape, long bloom time, and interest, but most important are the bumper months of May, June, September, and October.
If you can hook your customers into buying your flowers in May and June they are likely to stick with you in July and August when fresh cut flowers are abundant.
Where are you planning on selling whatever you grow?

    Bookmark   February 4, 2011 at 12:17PM
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In my rural area, selling garden produce happens two ways. Either folks set up a stand at home (stand at the road end of the driveway or sign at the end of the drive sending folks to a porch or stand next to the house,) or they sell at local farmer's markets. Booths at a farmer's market have a couple of costs: rent for the space and a one-time cost to buy an awning to keep folks out of the sun or rain while they shop. The advantage of the farmer's market is that the time spent selling is concentrated, while selling at home is requires either trusting your customers to pay or having someone around all the time you want to be selling.

    Bookmark   February 5, 2011 at 9:33AM
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Cash crop on 1/8 of an acre is a pretty tall order! Flowers and tomatoes, definitely, but I hope this isn't your main retirement plan, OldPaddy.

Corn is a non-starter on that small a piece of land, it takes too much space to produce.

    Bookmark   February 5, 2011 at 2:07PM
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claireplymouth z6b coastal MA

You might want to contact the Cape Cod Cooperative Extension for suggestions. They would know what is feasible for your location and what the market for different products would be. Roberta Clark is the local contact and is often a guest on The Point on WCAI. She fields all sorts of questions and seems to be very approachable.

Roberta Clark
Agriculture & Landscape Program
(508) 375-6692
rclark@barnstablecounty dot org


    Bookmark   February 5, 2011 at 5:40PM
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Great idea, Claire!

Corn would also be a nonstarter many areas without a dog to scare away the critters. I've tried raising corn several times, and each time, just as it was ripening, the racoons or possums or some critter pulled the stalks flat and ate it.

I'm finding myself wondering if oldpaddy is seeing the responses since there has been no reply and the email reply notice isn't there.

    Bookmark   February 5, 2011 at 7:30PM
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Thanks all for the great ideas and comments!

    Bookmark   February 14, 2011 at 11:33AM
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loomis(Z6a Western MA)

I would try to grow something that is not readily available in local markets. Perhaps unusual herbs that local restaurants and cooks use. Instead of ordinary basil, grow basil Genovese or Thai basil. Lemon verbena is easy. Or perhaps gourmet varieties of pole beans, cucumbers (grow on trellises to save space) eggplant, etc. Organic produce is becoming more popular as indicated by the popularity of such markets as Whole Foods.
Just check out food websites, study the cooking habits of your local ethnic population, look at fine local restaurant menus and see if there's a void that needs to be filled.
Dare to be different!

    Bookmark   February 19, 2011 at 8:51PM
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Grow what you really like to eat. plant it like your whole family is going to mooch. take care of it like you are going to be out of work all winter. and put what you have for extra in a small trust stand at the end of your drive. I often stop at a stand and drop .50 in the coffee can to eat a cucumber on the way home knowing that if I wait 1/2 hour I could pick my own.I have never seen anyone at the stand except buyers. not a lot of produce but never anything but the best. I sometimes think should I drive in and see how she/he does it but I have to go home and tend my garden.

    Bookmark   February 22, 2011 at 12:25PM
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marthacr(z5 Me)

I grow and sell cut flowers and have for about ten years. It's very low-key and I use a mix of perennials, wildflowers, and a few annuals. A lot of flower growers use dahlias and zinnias as their main crop. I have issues with both, so use other things. I also provide free flowers for the altar at the local church that is next door. They are very appreciative.

    Bookmark   February 28, 2011 at 12:02PM
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