Whether you plan on becoming a full-time gardener or even if you’re doing it to get a secondary stream of income – starting your own commercial garden can be a great way of earning money from your passion. Excited to know more about commercial gardening?
In this article, we’ll break down the steps you need to take if you plan on starting your own commercial garden – regardless of where you start. We’ll tell you how:
- you can decide what you should grow,
- where you should grow it,
- how much you should be growing,
- and how you can sell it.
All a garden takes is some creativity and labor – depending on the size of the garden. Using your green friends to make money isn’t a laborious process. Many gardeners get intimidated by the looks of it, but in reality, it’s a relatively simple process. You won’t need expensive equipment, formal education or acres of land.
The money you’re going to make while starting your own commercial garden will be just one half of the satisfaction that comes along with it.
You’ll also get to do what you love!
Understanding Commercial Gardening
A commercial garden usually operates on a small scale. It can be on one acre of land. This land may be used for the production of flowers, vegetables, or fruits. The crops that you plant to earn money are called cash crops.
Unlike a garden that has a monoculture – commercial gardening focuses on different kinds of crops. This can usually happen because of the different kinds of demands of the market. The gardener will be willing to grow anything that sells well. A commercial gardener usually sells their crops directly to shops, restaurants, or customers.
A commercial garden relies heavily on manual labor. Because it is started usually on a small-scale – there is no heavy machinery involved like in large-scale farming. But this doesn’t mean you won’t be able to make good money!
Even if you’re farming on a small scale with the relevant plants – you’ll be able to make a lot of money if you know what you’re doing. This is because when a farmer sells their plants in the market – they don’t get to make a lot because they have to cover distribution and retail expenses. But when a commercial gardener sells directly to the consumer – they get to keep everything they earn.
A conventional farm can make you a few hundreds of dollars per acre, but a commercial garden can earn farmers thousands of dollars if they’re efficient. But with that being said – there are some limitations to a commercial garden, too. Because of its limited size, even though a commercial garden can provide remarkable profit margins, it will still only serve to a limited number of people.
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How Do I Start a Commercial Garden?
Starting your own commercial garden can be difficult if you don’t know what to do. You need to know how you have to pick a product and understand what the market demands. It doesn’t have to be that difficult.
All you need to do is break it down into small manageable steps.
Step-1. Doing the Research
Before you even decide where you’ll plant your first seed or how much you’re planning to make – you need to do a lot of market research. It might be possible that you’re able to grow the best potatoes in your area – but what if no one wants potatoes? If that’s the case – there’s no point growing them.
Before you start to grow something in your garden, it would be best if you worked on it a bit and understood what you’re dealing with first. Not only will you get to know your garden better and what kind of soil it has, but you’ll gain experience in day-to-day tasks.
You might even end up loving the whole process. But the truth is – people often romanticize the idea about working on a farm. Because people go into the process expecting a fun day – they are often disappointed when they’re hit with reality.
If you aren’t meant to farm, it is better if you find this out early. This way, you’ll be able to save a lot of money. If you’ve already invested in a commercial garden, it might be hard to back out if you don’t enjoy the process.
You can also choose to work with someone else, and they might train you on what works for them and what doesn’t. You might also familiarize yourself with the equipment, and there can be other details that you’ll only learn with experience.
Check out your local food markets and see what is being sold. If there are other vendors who are selling the product you’re selling, there’s no need to panic. You might be able to produce a product that has better quality. You could also sell the same product for a lower price.
But if you think you live near a market that is over-saturated with just one product – try picking a different product. If you pick something that already exists in the market – try to make your product unique in some way. If someone is already selling grapes, try selling blue grapes. If you can see someone is selling carrots, you can sell purple carrots.
Step-2. Finding Land
You’re going to need a long term or permanent plot of land. You’re going to set up your garden on this plot. Spend a lot of time with this garden to first understand what the soil is like. Ideally, your garden should be in a place that is usable for more than one season. You’ll have to put in a lot of work before you can start growing anything on this land.
It doesn’t necessarily have to be a field that is dedicated to gardening. It can be anyone’s backyard if they’re willing to lease it to you. Selecting the land you grow your crops on is the first big decision you need to make – so take your time. There is no need to jump on to the first piece of land you find and use it for commercial gardening.
Step-3. Plan the Production of Crops
Before you start working on your land, you need to know which crop you’ll grow. The plants you grow will determine how the land will be spaced and other crucial factors. If you’ve done prior research, you should have an idea of what will sell better.
When you’re gardening commercially, you might have loyal customers who come to you again and again. For example, some restaurants take their time finding a commercial garden that they like, but once they find one – they keep going back to it. Start by estimating how much you can sell, then work backwards and determine how much you’ll have to grow.
Variation in produce is acceptable, but don’t make a habit of it.
Step-4. Soil Preparation
Once you know what you’re going to plant and how much of it you’ll be planting – start prepping your soil. If you’re planning in advance – you can prepare your soil one year in advance. If you want, you can cover the ground with a tarp in the spring or fall to kill weeds.
This will keep the ground safe from weeds, and your job will be a lot easier. Some gardeners also rent rototillers when they’re starting out so they can loosen the soil. This way, they can add other organic material to the soil.
A rototiller can cost you between 50 to 100 dollars, but it will make your job a lot easier.
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Now that your land is ready, you can plant your choice of crops. You can choose to plant seeds, or use seedlings. But if you want to use seedlings, we recommend using a nursery where you can grow them initially. If you’re buying seedlings from a nursery, your garden can develop a prohibitive nature very quickly.
If you think you can invest in equipment to make your garden produce crops more efficiently – try a mechanical seeder. It can reduce the time it’ll normally take you to plant a seed.
Machines like a mechanical seeder or rototiller can make your job very easy – but you should know how and when to use them. By using a mechanical speeder, you can plant your crops with even spaces between them very easily.
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Step-6. Crop Maintenance
Once you’ve taken your plants out of the ground, you need to take care of them and make sure they stay fresh. Restaurants and loyal customers always expect consistent quality from their commercial garden. If they notice the quality deteriorating in just one produce – they might not come to you again.
While your plants are still in the ground and are ready to be harvested, constantly weed them and water them. If summer comes along and your plants are getting hot – cover them with a cloth.
Make a habit of checking your plants regularly for bugs or seeds. If you catch insects spreading on your plants early, the situation will be easier to deal with.
Starting your own commercial garden can take a lot of planning – but once you’ve reached this stage, the hardest part of the journey is over. Once your crops are fully developed and are looking mature, you can decide on a day when you’re going to harvest them.
Harvesting can be a process that requires a lot of labor, but it has to be completed before you can take your crops to the market. We would recommend that you find the quickest way to harvest your plants. Use every tool that you have at your disposal and try to make the process easy for yourself.
Even if it costs you a few hundred dollars but makes the harvesting process easy – buy the tool! Your harvest should reach the market as soon as possible. All customers prefer buying the produce as fresh as possible. The tool that you buy will save you from putting a lot of strain on your arms, back, and knees.
After you’ve harvested the produce, wash it, and place it in packages for storage. To clean your produce, you’re going to need a large sink where you can wash them easily and collectively. If you want, you can also create a bubbler which can do a better job of cleaning your garden’s produce.
If you have an old washing machine, take out its blade and create a salad spinner for your crops. Once your produce is clean, keep it in the refrigerator until there comes a need to sell, or transport it to your customers.
The fridge can extend the life of your produce, and if you don’t have a fridge – get one immediately! A fridge is essential if you want your produce to survive the summers.
Ideally, you should be making connections with chefs, restaurant managers, and home-based cooks if you want your garden to get popular in the town. There will be slow periods when sales will slow down and it will be harder to sell goods. But these are just phases that every market goes through, and it will recover soon enough.
However, if your produce is good and you aren’t getting any sales, we recommend making more connections around the town. Relevancy is what matters in this case. Contact the right people and give them free samples of your product.
If they find a certain value in your product – they will contact you again for your crops.
Step-10. Learning From Experience
Starting your own commercial garden can be even more fun if you start to get better at it with every produce. The only way this can happen is if you learn from experience and rectify your mistakes with every production cycle.
If you overproduced or underproduced – take mental notes that stop you from repeating the same mistake. With time, you’re going to be a master of your art, and you might even be able to transform your garden into a full-fledged business!
Getting there takes a lot of effort and consistency – and your experience will take you there.
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I hope you got to know on commercial gardening and good to go to start your own commercial garden.
I’m Elsa, and I love gardening. I started GardeningElsa.com as a resource for other gardeners, and I offer expert advice on gardening topics such as plants, flowers, herbs, and vegetable gardening. On my website, I share my latest tips and tricks for creating beautiful gardens. When I’m not working on my website, you can find me in my own garden, tending to my plants and flowers. Read more about me.