Specialty Crops

SPECIALITY CROPS

This section will briefly cover other special cash crops. Some of these crops can only be grown in certain section of the countries. Also, some must have special growing conditions.

LANDSCAPING PLANTS — Special plants for landscaping are always in demand. These plants include shrubs such as: rhododendron, azaleas and juniper, as well as some decorative trees. Landscaping plants can be sold directly to the consumer or to landscaping companies.

If you begin supplying a landscape company or retail outlets with good stock, you’ll soon have a steady source of income. A couple of important things to know about landscape plants are that they must be attractive and have a good survival rate. And you probably need to give some sort of guarantee that the plants are free from disease.

NUT CROPS — Including almonds, chestnuts, filberts, pecans and walnuts. You can expect a wait of from 3 to 20 years for nut production. But some growers also produce and sell various aged nut trees for replanting. Nice two and three old trees will bring a premium price. Since nut tree crops require a long time to mature, some growers use a dual method … they plant a raspberry crop between the nut trees.

It takes about 8 to 10 years to get nut trees into nut production. But, after they have produced crops, they can also be used for valuable lumber production in 30 years or so. Nut trees could make an excellent retirement crop if you plant them while you’re young. Some arrow-straight walnut trees, black walnut specifically, have brought as much as $10,000 each!

BAMBOO — This crop is grown for its edible shoots, and can produce 3 to 10 tons per acre. Bamboo is also used for a wide variety of construction items, including furniture. Currently, U.S. growers cannot keep up with the demand, so bamboo is being imported from Asia.

DRIED PLANTS — Are used for decoration and fragrance. Dried floral arrangements are especially popular. Many arts and craft shops, gift stores and specialty shops need a constant supply of dried flowers.

There are two steps involved in producing these crops. First you must produce an attractive, quality plant. Next, you must use the proper drying techniques to preserve the plants while maintaining its looks.

MUSHROOMS — Have become a very popular specialty food in fancy restaurants. The Shitake mushroom is specially adapted for production by small family farms. It can be harvested during the spring and fall. And it has both a meaty taste and medicinal properties.

These mushrooms are usually grown outdoors on 6 to 8 foot logs. The logs are prepared and then inoculated with the mushroom spores. Then it’s a 6 to 8 month wait for the first crop. Recently, a few growers have developed indoor growing techniques which result in a shorter growing season.

OYSTER MUSHROOMS — Is another variety that is fast becoming popular. These mushrooms are fast growing and produce high yields. They can be grown on easily available material, such as wheat straw.

The largest market for specialty mushrooms are restaurants, food co-ops, grocers and health food stores. You can enjoy a year round booming market for dried Shitake mushrooms.

SEEDS — Many small growers are supplying the large seed companies with special crop seed. These include flower seeds, wildflowers seeds and hard-to-find vegetables. Some small producers occasionally sell directly to the consumer.

SPROUTS — Growing sprouts can be ideal for those who have very little space. Fresh sprouts can be supplied to major grocery stores as well as to restaurants and health food stores.

Water Deeply But Not Too Often

Watering properly will help your lawn grow deep roots that make it stronger and less vulnerable to drought. Most lawns are watered too often but with too little water. It’s best to water only when the lawn really needs it, and then to water slowly and deeply. This trains the grass roots down. Frequent shallow watering trains the roots to stay near the surface, making the lawn less able to find moisture during dry periods. (more…)

Shrubs for Fall Foliage

Arrowwood Viburnum (Viburnum dentatum) – Zones 2-8. This viburnum will grow 6-10′ tall and wide, and is a popular choice for fall foliage color in the landscape. Like most viburnums, Arrowwood is easy to grow in a wide variety of garden conditions and will tolerate full sun to part shade. White flowers provide spring beauty and summer fruit attracts birds to the garden. This viburnum Fall color will have yellow to orange or burgundy-red fall colors, adding lots of beauty to the autumn garden. (more…)