You can easily make money with hydroponics as long as you have a good business plan and you try and keep your system as simple as possible. Simple systems are far easier to scale upwards and repeat as well as cheaper to run and produce faster results. To learn how to make money with hydroponics, please read on!
Before you plan on making money with hydroponics, it would be preferable if you were experienced with this form of gardening and had a bit of a business mindset as well. However, the latter is not really necessary to any great degree but would certainly be an advantage.
I have been hydroponic gardening for many years. However, it wasn’t until about 3 years after starting that I finally got round to selling to the local markets. These days, I only sell my produce on a small scale but the extra income I make covers costs many times over and helps to pay my mortgage.
How to Make Money with Hydroponics
In order to make your money with hydroponics, there are a few things you’ll need to consider. If you skip any of these steps then you’ll make things more difficult for yourself in the short and long run.
1. Find a Demand in Your Local Area
All business plans must start with research and the biggest part of this research is finding out what is in demand in your area. By finding out what there is a shortage of in and around your town, then by supplying this crop by hydroponics will enable you to charge absolute premium prices.
Don’t forget that demand will change throughout the year. All plants have on and off seasons and clearly by supplying certain plants in the offseason will increase your profit margin hugely.
You should shop at your local small grocery stores, as these will be your future customers. Getting hold of anybody at Walmart with the authority to purchase your hydroponic tomatoes may be a problem and will kill the joy that this vocation can bring. In addition, by regularly shopping at small businesses, you’ll be able to more easily build up relationships with the owner and employees. But most importantly of all, you can simply ask them what they’re having trouble getting ahold of.
The next time you’re at your favorite local restaurant, ask the owner what they’re struggling to get in stock. The vast majority of small restaurants simply cannot get hold of enough basil and this seems to be a year-round problem. Decent quality tomatoes are also becoming more and more of a rare thing since they’re all shipped in from Mexico and are never fresh.
Make sure you take a look at your local farm shops and farmers markets too, asking stallholders what they’re in dire need of. As you can tell, good research is imperative to making money with hydroponics.
2. Build Up a Good Local Customer Base
By following the above section, this should be a lot easier.
Obviously, by keeping things local you’ll cut down on transportation costs and your product will maintain its quality. You’ll also find that many local merchants may well come and visit you if you’re close by! They’ll want to see for themselves your hydroponic system especially if you’re a regular supplier of theirs. As with all businesses, networking is very important and you’ll be building up a network of regular buyers which you must treat like gold.
Once again, I’ll repeat that you should pay a visit to your local farm shops, farmers markets, restaurants and small grocery stores. Find out what they’re struggling to get hold of and if they’d be willing to pay money for a regular supply.
Stay away from chain stores, franchises and big businesses as getting hold of somebody with the authority to make a buying decision will be tricky.
Remember too, that you’re not competing on price or quantity. You’re not competing against the large Mexican farmers that export their small, average quality and soulless vegetables. You’ll be known as the guy who supplies large, rich, deeply colored, healthy and delicious hydroponic fruit and vegetables. For this reason, you can and should sell your products for high prices at the most exclusive restaurants in town.
3. Create a Simple Hydroponic System
As I said at the top of this article, by keeping things simple you’ll be spending less money and using less time. The goal here is to create as much produce as possible in as short a period of time as is achievable. Simple systems are much more easily expanded at a later date if you so wish.
For the work at home hydroponic gardener who’s wanting to produce enough to make a profit then you’ll need a system that will enable you to keep things on autopilot, keep costs low and is easy to replicate over and over again. More importantly, your system must be one which produces the fastest results. So you clearly need an active hydroponic system.
The three systems which spring to mind are the:
- ebb and flow system which is very simple,
- the NFT system which is the most popular system with professional hydroponic gardeners around the world,
- and also the aeroponic system which is capable of producing the fastest results out of all the systems.
However, the system you use should depend on what exactly you’re growing.
You’re going to need a different hydroponic grow tent for each unique crop you’re growing. This is an investment, they are worth their weight in gold and then some, so don’t be afraid to get yourself one of these tents, they are magnificent. If you’re starting out then begin with just the one tent and then go on from there.
Purchase grow lights that are of high quality and do not use much power. It’s important to try and keep your costs down. When it comes to grow lights, the most expensive is not necessarily the best.
You can keep costs down by mixing your own grow chemicals, however, if you’re not at this stage yet then there’s no harm in buying ready mixed nutrients.
What Are The Best Plants To Grow?
The simple answer to this question is whatever is needed in your area! I will tell you from experience that high-quality tomatoes will sell at high-quality restaurants for high prices all year round. So tomatoes are clearly one of the best things to grow.
Basil is also becoming more and more expensive due to seasonal shortages. Hydroponic lettuce is constantly in high demand, especially since it doesn’t have that soil taste which you have to wash off. All restaurants need lettuce in large quantities!
How Much Money Can You Make With Hydroponic Gardening?
This is not an easy question to answer as all systems are different. They produce different plants at different speeds. They all have different running costs which all eats into your profit margin. However, I’ll try and put you in the picture.
Your biggest running cost is going to be your electricity. The majority of this will be from your grow lights. One 90 Watt LED grow light can grow 20 heads of hydroponic lettuce over a four week period. This costs 7 cents per day with the light running for 16 hours in any 24 day period. Over the course of a 4 week grow period for 20 heads of lettuce, this will cost you $2.10.
Of course, you’ve got grow mediums, transportation and nutrients to add to this. The more you scale upwards, however, the more these prices come down.
So with your 20 heads of lettuce, how much would you get in store? Going by $3.00 per organic lettuce would be $60 or a profit of say $55. Multiply this by 12 for an entire year and your profits are now $660.
Remember that this is all from just one grow bay using just the one grow light! One bay takes up very little space!
Think about something for a second. Basil takes up less space than does lettuce, takes fewer nutrients to grow than does the very thirsty lettuce and is more expensive to buy. It’s also in high demand all year round. Are you beginning to see the potential here? I know one guy who sells small bags of hydroponic basil to farmers markets for $1.50. The basil leaves just shoot up and are huge with hydroponics. He supplies the best basil for miles around. You could quite easily make upwards of $20,000 a year with only a few hours work every week.
Clearly you need a streamlined and efficient system as well as a demand in your area. But with all those ingredients, you could easily make a full-time income doing something you love.
If you have any extra points to add or any questions about profiting with hydroponics then please leave a comment below!