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12 Most Profitable Plants for Aquaponics, Small Gardens and Backyard Nurseries

Urban areas don’t lend a land for growing your own plants and vegetables, but it’s not impossible to do so with this list of the most profitable plants for aquaponics, small gardens and backyard nurseries.

Growing up in the south, I am no stranger to farms and large expanses of land. My extended family has farmed for a few generations and because of this, I am no stranger to farms. Sometimes, there’s just nothing like throwing on some old clothes and boots and trekking around the farm, or planting or picking fresh fruits and vegetables. I’m definitely no expert at the planting part, but I at least know how to pick the produce. Some of my favorite things to pick are strawberries, tomatoes, and corn because they’re fairly easy to spot on the vine. Strawberries are mainly my favorite because I eat more than I pick. As you know, it takes a good amount of land and space to be able to successfully grow a variety of produce. If you’re thinking of incorporating livestock, you better have tons of land. However, if you are just getting started with your farming, it may be best to start with plants. You can also check out the 11 Most Profitable Agricultural Business Ideas for Young Entrepreneurs for ways to make money with your new hobby.

Nejron Photo/Shutterstock.com

Nejron Photo/Shutterstock.com

Unfortunately, not everyone has access to acres of land, which many times translates to a lack of access to fresh produce. In urban areas, the closest farms can sometimes be hours away, which isn’t always easy to get to. Luckily, urban farms and other small farms are popping up in cities around the country. Technology has even allowed for aquaponics which is an integrated system that uses nutrients from fish-inhabited water to fertilize plants. This is not to be confused with “hydroponics” where you add supplemental nutrients to the water. This can be indoors or outdoors, and in big or small spaces. Aquaponics serves as a more organic process. So, if you live in a tiny apartment in New York City, it’s possible for you to grow, and even sell, your own produce. For more on this, you can check out our list of the Easiest Edible Plants to Grow Indoors where you can find some profitable plants to grow at home like herbs, flowers and mushrooms. These same plants are also considered among a few of the most profitable plants to grow and sell.

In our list of most profitable plants for aquaponics, small gardens and backyard nurseries, we are going to focus on the most profitable crops to grow and sell when you don’t have much space to work with, or if you’re working with aquaponics. Obviously, some high-profit cash crops, like corn, tobacco, and soybeans need to grow outside to thrive and won’t work in a small or indoor space. Many of the most profitable plants to grow in a greenhouse will bring you pretty good profits (while probably not the same yield) if you’re growing in small spaces, so those are also on our list.

To create our list, we used sources like the University of North Carolina, Cornell UniversityHarvest to Table and the USDA to determine the value of plants. We first researched the most profitable plants, then narrowed them down for our list, based on their ability to be grown using aquaponics, or in small spaces. It is important to note that plant value varies depending on your market and where you are growing the crops. Due to the variation in values it’s hard to determine exact prices for crops, so we’ve ranked our list based on which crops are considered to have a “high” value per square foot.

Get your gardening gloves and let’s take a look at the most profitable plants for aquaponics, small gardens and backyard nurseries.

 12. Dill

When I think of dill, I think of pickles, which I absolutely hate. However, if I had a small garden, I would grow dill as it is considered to have a high value and can earn some money. Like most plants, dill just needs the sun, but it can grow in a variety of soil conditions. It’s considered as an easy plant to grow, so you don’t need too many gardening skills.
12 Most Profitable Plants for Aquaponics, Small Gardens and Backyard Nurseries

Pixabay/Public Domain

 11. Basil

We are continuing our list of most profitable plants for aquaponics, small gardens and backyard nurseries with Basil that can be used for a range of things, my favorite being pizza and pesto, so you’ll have no problem selling it just about anywhere. You can even grow it in a pot, so you definitely don’t need much space.
12 Most Profitable Plants for Aquaponics, Small Gardens and Backyard Nurseries

Pixabay/Public Domain

10. Spinach

Leafy vegetables grow well in smaller spaces and using aquaponics. Spinach also does well indoors, as it can easily freeze if the temperature gets too low outside. If you can’t sell your spinach (which is pretty unlikely) you can always use it for salads or sandwiches.
12 Most Profitable Plants for Aquaponics, Small Gardens and Backyard Nurseries

Pixabay/Public Domain

9. Kale

Kale, like spinach, is an easy, leafy plant to grow indoors. It’s also considered a superfood, so you can’t go wrong eating it. It usually takes about 6-8 weeks for it to fully grow, so you don’t have to wait forever before you start making some money.
12 Most Profitable Plants for Aquaponics, Small Gardens and Backyard Nurseries

Pixabay/Public Domain

8. Cherry Tomatoes

Unlike regular tomatoes that need to grow on a larger vine, small cherry tomatoes are great for small spaces and indoor gardens. In most places, their value per square foot is about $15. Definitely deserves a place on our list of most profitable plants for aquaponics, small gardens and backyard nurseries, right?
12 Most Profitable Plants for Aquaponics, Small Gardens and Backyard Nurseries

Tischenko Irina/Shutterstock.com

7. Lettuce

 Lettuce can be used in all kinds of dishes and, just like kale and spinach, doesn’t need an entire field just to grow. There’s not much to lettuce, but it can sometimes have a value of $16 per square foot, which is great for something that’s mostly water.
12 Most Profitable Plants for Aquaponics, Small Gardens and Backyard Nurseries

Pixabay/Public Domain

6. Chives

We’re coming in around halfway through our list of the most profitable plants for aquaponics, small gardens and backyard nurseries. Chives look like a pointless decoration on top of dishes, but it’s pretty useful and luckily easy to grow. Typically the average value is around $16 per square foot.
12 Most Profitable Plants for Aquaponics, Small Gardens and Backyard Nurseries

Pixabay/Public Domain

5. Watercress

Watercress is a green, leaf-like plant that grows great in water. If you are working with an aquaponics garden, this plant is a great option. If you don’t sell it, it can be used as a salad green, and some believe it has healing properties.
12 Most Profitable Plants for Aquaponics, Small Gardens and Backyard Nurseries

Pixabay/Public Domain

4. Mushrooms

Mushrooms don’t need much space to grow and a lot can grow in a small area. Some varieties hardly need any light to grow, so you can grow them in a closet if you want.
12 Most Profitable Plants for Aquaponics, Small Gardens and Backyard Nurseries

Pixabay/Public Domain

3. Arugula

Did you know that this Argula is among the most profitable plants for aquaponics, small gardens and backyard nurseries? No? Well, as you can probably tell by now, leafy green vegetables are great for small spaces and aquaponics. Whether it’s used on top of pizza or in a salad, there are many uses for it which means it’s easy to sell. Arugula also has a value of around $20 per square foot. 

12 Most Profitable Plants for Aquaponics, Small Gardens and Backyard Nurseries

Pixabay/Public Domain

2. Cilantro

Most people either love or hate the taste of cilantro. If you’re like me and you don’t love it, you can always grow it and sell it, as it can have a value of around $21 per square foot. Like other herbs, you don’t need much space to grow it, and some people even grow it in a mason jar.

12 Most Profitable Plants for Aquaponics, Small Gardens and Backyard Nurseries

Pixabay/Public Domain

1. Ginseng

Ginseng is a wild root crop, that usually grows in the wild. However, people are learning how to cultivate it using aquaponics. It typically takes 5-6 years for ginseng to grow in the ground, but it can grow in around three years using aquaponics, and the value of the produce is very high.

12 Most Profitable Plants for Aquaponics, Small Gardens and Backyard Nurseries

Pixabay/Public Domain

We hope we’ve inspired you to cultivate your own green thumb with our list of 12 most profitable plants for aquaponics, small gardens and backyard nurseries.