Money doesn’t grow on trees — but they grow in your yard. Cash crops can leave you rolling in money with very little investment. The right crops can sell for their weight in gold, and growing them takes little to no effort. Start growing in your yard, greenhouse, or shed and you’ll soon have a profitable farming operation.
Medical marijuana or cannabis is legal in 36 states, and several states have ongoing legislation towards the legalization of its use. Contrary to popular belief, it is not a type of grass or weed — however, it doesn’t require much effort to grow. Like your average plant, cannabis requires sunlight, water, and a growing medium (usually, soil). It takes 2-3 months of growth to reach optimal yields. A small 10-feet by 20-feet greenhouse can contain up to 15 medical marijuana plants. Each plant will yield an ounce of buds per harvest.
The five-fingered leaves might be an iconic symbol — however, the medical effects are all in the buds, and smoking the leaves will have little to no effect. If you manage to sell to a proper dispensary, you can rake in around $4,500 for 2-3 months of minimal effort. Cannabis is not your usual crop. You’ll need to spruce up your security because thieves and other unscrupulous individuals will be aiming for your crops. Of course, make sure it’s legal to grow medical marijuana before you start your venture. Get the necessary permits and make contact with several dispensaries.
If you live close to an affluent part of the state or if there’s an abundance of landscapers in your area — growing bamboo can turn big profits. It is a type of grass, making it particularly hardy. Bamboo requires very little space and attention. You can plant them in your yard or in pots. Bamboo requires plenty of water, but it can drown without proper drainage. If you are planting them in the open, the winter cold might damage their roots if temperatures drop to 40-50°F. You can bring them indoors if you are using pots or you can wrap the pots in burlap to minimize the effects of the cold.
Add mulch for an extra layer of insulation. If you opt to grow them in a greenhouse, make sure it has enough clearance. Potted bamboo reaches maturity within 3 months and their height typically reaches 10 feet. Landscapers will pay $200 apiece for fully grown bamboo, with most orders requiring dozens of bamboo at a time.
You’ll need a proper greenhouse to grow microgreens. They are quite fragile and require protective structures. Because you’ll be technically growing and harvesting 2-3 week seedlings, your greenhouse will need adequate lighting, ventilation, and temperature control. Microgreens require a lot of attention and resources. Most microgreen operations don’t use soil to reduce the risks of diseases, parasites, and bugs. Soilless mixes are available in the market, or you can use special foam sheets or woven textiles. Microgreens are typically grown in 10-inch by 20-inch trays.
Heat mats may be required during the winter, as well as supplemental grow lights. A tray of microgreens can sell for around $10-$20. Opt for a polycarbonate greenhouse instead of traditional glass ones. Polycarbonate greenhouses provide better insulation, and they disperse sunlight for optimal coverage. A 10-feet by 20-feet greenhouse can hold more than 100 trays of microgreens if they are grown in tiers.
Unlike other crops, you can grow mushrooms with little to no light. Gourmet mushrooms like oyster and Shiitake are highly in demand, with restaurants willing to pay premium prices for fresh batches. Oyster and Shiitake require 6 weeks to fully develop before harvesting. Modern mushroom operations can produce yearly harvests of 25 pounds of mushrooms per square foot. Gourmet mushrooms can sell for $5-$10 a pound. A small 12-feet by 12-feet backyard shed can grow enough mushrooms to earn around $12,000-$25,000 a year.
You can also opt for closed systems using the latest mushroom farming technology. These automated systems are housed in portable trailers (320 square feet of space) and can yield 400 pounds of mushrooms a week all year round. The initial investment can be pricey, but you can earn $2,000-$4,000 a week if you can supply to the right dining establishments.
Crops are not created equal, and only a few deserve the title of a cash crop. Put the dollar green in your green thumb and start a profitable farming operation right in your own backyard.