Backyard Cash Crops

Many large farms have had trouble making a profit in the past few years. However, there are several good ways to make money farming small gardens plots. Thousands of people are using these methods to earn part-time or full-time incomes. This report will outline several profitable ways that you can use to quickly begin producing cash crops.

Don’t misunderstand, I’m not talking about growing common crops like tomatoes and so forth. No. The secret of cash crops from small gardens is growing special, hard-to-find products that will bring you premium prices. And, in many cases, the demand far outstrips the supply for these crops. You’ll also learn how to open a small roadside stand selling common and special vegetables and fruits.

Something else. You’ll not have to engage in ‘backbreaking’ labor. While there is some amount of work required, there are techniques that can reduce the amount of labor once you are established. For example: raspberries can be heavily mulched each year to eliminate future weeds.

BUSINESS OVERVIEW

Raising backyard crops is a fairly easy business to set up and operate. You’ll need at least 1/2 acre of ground. Preferably, 1 acre or more. Then you’ll need to master the gardening techniques for growing top quality crops. After that, it’s simply a matter of choosing how you want to market your crops for cash.

PROFIT POTENTIAL

How much money can you earn with this type of business? It depends on several factors, including: crop selection, quality of your crop, amount of acreage planted, crop yields, and effective marketing. Your earnings can vary from $2,000 per acre up to $20,000 per acre each year with the specialty crops described in this report. So this is not a business that can make you rich ‘overnight,’ but with several profitable acres your income can be good to excellent.

KEYS TO SUCCESS

There are several keys to success in this type of business. They are:

(1) Plan ahead to grow the best kinds of crops for the amount of space you have, and type of soil and climate in your location.

(2) Learn the best growing techniques (and easiest methods) for producing high yield crops.

(3) Buy the best seeds, bulbs, trees, and vines and plant them in the proper manner.

(4) Learn good marketing skills for selling the crops.

These simple, and obvious steps are easy to take. Anyone can successfully raise cash producing crops with a little effort. Of course, some labor is involved in preparing the ground like weeding, trimming, packing and selling. However, some of these cash crops require less attention than common crops. Also, you could employ a high school student for 1 or 2 days per week to help out with portions of the work.

Raising cash crops is also a very low risk and low cost business to start. In most cases, your start up costs can be $100 to $200 (or less) if you already own a suitable section of land. So you are risking very little money and you should always get some cash return even in a poor growing season.

TOOLS NEEDED

You do not need a wide array of expensive tools at the start. A shovel, hoes, wheelbarrow, seeds, plants and fertilizer are about all that is needed. However, it’s quite handy to have (or have access to) a 5 horsepower rototiller. A tiller is a powerful assistant in the upkeep and preparation of your garden. And, of course, you’ll also want to purchase, or borrow, a few books about specific gardening techniques in your area and for the specific crop you’ll be growing. You’ll find some excellent guides in the Source section of this booklet.

LAND

How much land do you need to produce cash crops? In part, this will depend upon what you want to do. There are 3 different sizes of land that can be used: (1) less than 1 acre, (2) 1 to 2 acres, (3) 6 to 20 acres.

The size of your garden determines what your best crops will be in order to produce the most cash. For example: if you have one acre or less, you won’t want to try growing apple and peach trees. You need more space for fruit trees. Instead, focus on crops like asparagus, strawberries, raspberries, herbs and other similar crops that can produce large amounts in small spaces.

The other important factor is the type of soil in your area. Most crops require certain kinds of soil to produce the highest yield and the best quality. The good news is that you can improve your soil by using fertilizers. I recommend that you use natural types of fertilizers, such as horse/cow/chicken manure, and limit (or, best of all, eliminate) the amount of chemical fertilizers you use. Most of your customers will prefer ‘organically grown’ produce. Since most ‘store bought’ produce is usually laced with some kind of chemical, featuring organically grown crops can assure you of increased sales. There’s always a market for health oriented produce.

A great way to improve your soil is by composting. Composting turns leaves, grass clippings, scrap food, and other organic material into a rich soil. There are both long and short procedures for producing compost. Here’s how:

Pick a spot for a compost pile (4×4 or 6×6 feet) and begin by putting down a 4 to 5 inch layer of leaves or grass clippings.

Cover with an inch or so of dirt and a shovel-full or two of manure. Then start another layer of organic matter. Continue in this manner until the pile is 3 or 4 feet high. You can sprinkle each layer lightly with water. If you like, you can construct an enclosed wire ‘box’ for this compost pile.

If you want to use the protracted method for composting, simply let the pile ‘cook’ for about 9 months. If you want a ‘faster’ compost wait 8 to 9 days then mix the pile. Then wait 3 or 4 days and mix again. Do this until the pile has turned into a rich soil-like mixture. This compost can then be worked into your soil.

The purpose of composting is to develop heat and moisture within the pile. This will cause the organic matter to decompose into components that are usable by the plants. It will produce a lot of nitrogen-rich material as well as material rich loaded with minerals. You may need to add a cup of lime or bone meal between the layers of the pile to make an even better compost.

You should have your soil tested to determine its acid, nitrogen, and mineral condition, or content. You’ll then be able to determine what to add to the soil to correct any deficiencies.

You’ll also be able to determine what grows best in your type of soil. There are low cost soil testing kits available, or you can find local testing groups, such as your local county extension office or the agriculture department at most colleges.

Most of the small cash crop growers I’ve talked with use a rototiller for preparing the soil. If the soil has never been used for a garden, you should have it worked up good with a tractor the first year. After that, a rototiller can do the job. Of course, if you have more than a one acre garden you may still want to save a lot of work and hire someone with a tractor to plow your soil. You should find several full time and part time farmers advertising in the classified section of your local newspaper for their tilling services.

The better prepared your soil is, the better the results will be. So take the time to find out the soil’s current condition, add plenty of fertilizing material and work the soil up in preparation for planting.

Crop selection is largely a matter of preference and how you want to market your product. For example, some products can easily be sold only locally while other products can be sold nationally as well as locally. Herbs are examples of produce that can be sold both ways.

I recommend that you don’t just plant one type of crop unless you have signed contracts to sell that crop, or have plenty of marketing experience. There are some exceptions to this rule: for example, specialized crops such as mushrooms and bamboo. Planting more than one type of produce will help avoid problems if something doesn’t produce as well as expected, or if the market becomes saturated.

Using good mulching techniques will help to eliminate weeds and lessen the amount of labor you’ll need to put into the garden. It will also keep the soil around your plants moist and produce stronger plants. Almost all successful small cash crop growers use the mulching method.

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