10 Vegetable Crops You Should Consider

Growing greenhouse vegetables for harvested produce is a different ballgame than growing those same crops as starter plants or fruiting plants for consumers to take home and grow. Each can provide its own unique production challenges that you may not be used to with ornamental crops. But all have significant market potential with supermarkets that value and advertise local production, farm markets, local restaurants, or even your own retail operation.

There are any number of different produce crops you can try in the greenhouse, but here are some primary options you should check out if you’re considering adding vegetables to your mix.

1. Leafy greens are one of the most exciting opportunities for greenhouse produce, particularly the salad types and Bibb lettuces. Nearly all leafy greens will thrive in the same growing environments required for most ornamental crops, especially bedding plants. Therefore, aside from learning the growing techniques of leafy greens, whether in soil or hydroponics, little adjustment is needed by the ornamental industry to grow leafy veggies.  The profitability can be excellent as long as sales are local and as direct to the consumer as possible. The types of greens covers a very wide range of colors, shapes and taste. Today, it is much more than just head lettuce.

2. Microgreens are very popular in restaurants. The types and flavors of microgreens are enormous.  One can design different mixes of greens to provide different flavors for different food dishes. An example of different microgreens are Persian cress, Tatsoi, mustards, Pac Choi, radish, Shungiku, Amaranth, beet, Orach, etc. The future is incredible!

3. Spinach is another leafy green that has great possibilities. When grown and sold locally, it offers freshness and good taste. Grown in greenhouses it is clean, free of debris, dirt and excellent from a food safety standpoint. As a greenhouse crop it does tend to bolt, or go to seed, quite early depending on growing conditions and day length.

4. Cucumbers are popular. The long green cucumbers are more familiar greenhouse varieties for most consumers, but can be a little more difficult to produce, as they need to be shrink wrapped after harvest to keep them firm and fresh. A better choice for greenhouse growers may be the Beit alpha types that are really catching on. I call them “little snackers.” These small cukes are easy to package and don’t require shrink wrapping as do the long European types. The Beit Alpha types are tender, sweet and seedless–perfect for packing into school lunches.

5. Tomatoes are the most familiar and most common greenhouse vegetable crop, and there are many different options available in all colors, shapes and sizes. Cherries, grapes, tomatoes on the vine (or TOV), and beefsteaks are all popular options. Many growers I work with have been focusing on beefsteak varieties, since the TOV varieties are popular with some of the very largest growers that dominate the market.

6. Peppers have been another popular greenhouse crop. Americans love peppers and there are many types to choose from. Greenhouse bell types of peppers need exact humidity and temperature control, especially the varieties from Holland. They are excellent tasting but are probably the most difficult greenhouse crop to grow. However, there are numerous other types of peppers of all shapes, colors and flavors. One day soon, pepper plants will be sold as edible ornamentals, offering beauty in the home and may also be used to flavor many food dishes. Even with these production challenges, peppers should be a highly marketable crop. Multiple colors of peppers in a clamshell are irresistible.

7. Numerous herbs are available which can be packaged in many ways, with or without the roots.  Basil, water cress, cilantro and many others are rapidly being discovered by greenhouse growers. Such crops have a great future in farm markets where sales can be direct to the consumer, allowing freshness and superb quality.

8. Green beans, grown in greenhouses, are in high demand, especially in the inner city, selling for incredible prices.  Again, a variety of colors are available, along with different shapes and lengths.  This is a great crop for direct sales to the consumer at farm markets.

9. Swiss chard and squash are great possibilities for greenhouse production if sold directly to the consumer.  As with most vegetable crops, these two vegetables come in all shapes and colors.

10. Raspberries and strawberries, grown in greenhouses, are just around the corner.  If grown and served with shortcake on the production site, it is a winner.  It’s a big deal at Wimbledon, why not as part of one’s offering at a farm market?  The very best tasting strawberries must be red throughout and not shipped in from thousands of miles away.  The tastiest are very perishable but offer great opportunities when served on site.


Leave a Reply

5 comments on “10 Vegetable Crops You Should Consider

  1. I would be interested in any information involving growing green beans in a greenhouse you could direct me to. Thank You,John Taylor

  2. What varieties of "maters" do you recommend for the greenhouse in the Mountain West, Utah, central? I have grown strawberries in the greenhouse before, they are really popular, but trying to get the price for them to make it worth it is another thing. Thanks, though, for your article

  3. We are interested in growing green beans in our cold frames. Also we have access to a heated glass greenhouse. We have done some trials with Kentucky Blue pole beans but is there a good variety for growing in the greenhouse. We also grow bush beans in the soil but the window of availability is only 6 weeks. We are located in BC Canada in the Fraser Valley. Thanks Bernice Neff

  4. I Grow 200 strawberry plants in aluminum gutters that are mounted on the greenhouse wall frames. 4 Rows on each side. Then i use used restaurant Deep fryer oil buckets w/the top cut off to grow indeterminate tomatos and peppers and herbs in. Between the rows of buckets i grow lettuce,ridichio,and swiss chard. 1100 plants in a 13 x 32 foot greenhouse.

More From Vegetables...

May 22, 2015

Nexus Greenhouses Is Optimistic For Expansion Into New Markets

Cheryl Longtin and Mike Porter, who own Nexus Corporation, say they were excited to attend the grand opening of Gotham Greens’ new structure atop the new Whole Foods grocery store in the Gowanus neighborhood in Brooklyn, N.Y., when it opened in December 2013. The project is just one example of some of the new and expanding markets that Nexus Corporation has expanded into over the past few years. Jeff Warschauer, vice president of sales for Nexus, says the company has enjoyed getting to know and working with the founders of Gotham Greens, Viraj Puri and Eric Haley, and Jennifer Nelkin Frymark, the chief agriculture officer, on their innovative approach to business. “They are very excited and work hard internally – just great people,” he says. “From our perspective, it’s great to see that excitement and vision. The employees there are happy and there’s no turnover; they’re only adding new people […]

Read More

May 20, 2015

2015 Farwest Show Announces Second Annual Equipment Innovation Day

The second annual Equipment Innovation Day will be Tuesday, Aug. 25, prior to the 2015 Farwest show, which will be August 27-29 in Portland, Ore. Equipment Innovation Day, which was enthusiastically received in 2014, offers a real-time opportunity to see new heavy and automated nursery equipment in action. The demonstrations take place in manufacturing and nursery settings, adding value to the showcase. Attendees will be able to talk with participating manufacturers and learn first-hand from innovative growers who use the equipment in daily operations. The day-long event will be held at the main manufacturing plant of GK Machines, Inc., Donald, Ore. Further demonstrations of field equipment will take place at the nearby nursery of A&R Spada Farms, LLC. Bus travel to and from the event is planned, starting at and returning to the Oregon Convention Center. Attendees are welcome to provide their own travel to and from the site. Preregistration is required. The cost […]

Read More
Bee On Flower

May 20, 2015

White House Task Force Releases Pollinator Health Strategy

An interagency Pollinator Health Task Force commissioned by President Obama released its “Strategy to Promote the Health of Honey Bees and Other Pollinators” on May 19. The strategy, released in accordance with the Presidential Memorandum issued last June, is accompanied by a Pollinator Research Action Plan, which outlines needs and priority actions to better understand pollinator losses and improve pollinator health. The recommended actions will be supported by a coordination of existing federal research efforts and accompanied by a request to Congress for additional resources to respond to losses in pollinator populations. Pages 47 through 52 specifically address pesticides and pollinators. The report calls out plant production, native plants, mosquito control and all urban uses in its Pollinator Action Plan. RISE (Responsible Industry for a Sound Environment) says it supports the goals of improving pollinator health and habitat contained in the White House Pollinator Task Force’s release of its National […]

Read More
Latest Stories

April 20, 2015

Three Michigan State University On-Demand Webinars Offe…

The first rule of effective insect and disease control for vegetables is to take action to prevent problems before they occur. But in order to do that, you need to have an effective pest and disease management strategy in place that incorporates best practices to ensure a successful outcome. Michigan State University offers three pest and disease management on-demand webinars that will get you started and keep you on the right track.

Read More

April 16, 2015

American Takii’s Asian Vegetable Line Is Designed…

Unlike many of the other breeders displaying at Spring Trials, American Takii didn’t have many new introductions. But it did have a new program that has prompted many visitors to post to social media — its Asian vegetables. Takii, which is well known for its vegetable breeding, is in the process of vetting the eight to 12 vegetables it will include in the program, and it should have its list fully complete by fall 2015. It is selecting plants that will be easy to use in Asian cooking and will help it stand out from the many vegetable programs in the ornamental market. The Takii marketing team designed bright-red Chinese food takeout containers to act as plant sleeves and a small booklet with five recipes. Honey Chicken With Pak Choy looked especially tasty. Take a look at how the program looks and let us know what you think.       HilverdaKooij is a […]

Read More
Zucchini 'Brice' (Syngenta Vegetables)

April 14, 2015

18 New Vegetables For Easy Growing And Healthy Eating

Current breeding efforts have focused on vegetable varieties that cater to small space and urban gardening trends and offer consumers good performance with minimal efforts. As a result, new, easy care vegetable introductions packed with flavor and loaded with fruits have swept onto the market. Here are 16 of the newest vegetables already on the market or hitting the market in 2016.

Read More

April 13, 2015

Keeping Your Greenhouse Vegetables And Fruits Safe: Ove…

This is the first installment of a four-part series that will bring you up to speed on what it takes to fulfill food safety mandates for greenhouse production.

Read More

April 10, 2015

5 Selection Principles For Vegetables That Sell

You gain a competitive edge when you select vegetable varieties that are right for your greenhouse and right for your customers. Here are five pieces of advice from breeders to help you stay ahead of the game.

Read More

March 31, 2015

California Summer Vegetable Trials To Be Hosted By Nati…

Vegetable breeding companies will come together this August to host the Summer Vegetable Trials in California. Like the long-standing California Spring Trials that are held annually in California, attendees will have the opportunity to visit breeding companies' trial sites in seven locations throughout the state, from August 20-21, 2015. National Garden Bureau (NGB), the non-profit organization promoting gardening on behalf of the horticulture industry, is organizing and publicizing this event on behalf of its members.

Read More

November 24, 2014

Root Crops And Plug Trays: A Perfect Match

Growing a plant to maturity in plug trays might be foreign to ornamental growers, but with a little help from plug tray manufacturers and breeders, there is little to hold growers back in this root crop category.

Read More

November 14, 2014

First Vegetatively Propagated All-America Selections (A…

All-America Selections (AAS) honors two vegetatively propagated impatiens with AAS winner status.

Read More

October 8, 2014

Gotham Greens To Build Rooftop Farm In Chicago

Gotham Greens announced October 7 that it has partnered with Method Products, an eco-friendly cleaning product company - to build what they are calling the "world's largest rooftop farm" at Method's new manufacturing plant in the Pullman neighborhood, on Chicago's south side.

Read More

August 19, 2014

A Look Ahead At Food Safety For Commercial Greenhouse V…

If you grow food in your greenhouse that is sold for consumption, food safety regulations will affect you. Here is a recap of Debbie Hamrick’s (North Carolina Farm Bureau Federation) Cultivate'14 presentation on food safety for commercial greenhouse vegetable production.

Read More

July 22, 2014

Bright Farms Launches Crowdfunding Campaign To Build Ur…

Urban farming pioneer Bright Farms is attempting to crowdfund what it hopes will be the "world's most productive urban farm," in Washington, D.C.

Read More

July 18, 2014

Meeting The Demand For Edibles: Go Green Agriculture In…

Read about how Go Green Agriculture Inc. took its business from the classroom to commercial reality in one of four articles on how growers are appealing to the growing interest in edibles.

Read More

July 18, 2014

Meeting The Demand For Edibles: Peace Tree Farm

Interest and response to Peace Tree Farm’s annuals and foliage plants continues to increase, but herb and vegetable starter plants is where the company makes its money. Read about it in one of four articles on how growers are appealing to the growing interest in edibles.

Read More

July 18, 2014

Meeting The Demand For Edibles: High Meadows Farm

Grants brought opportunities for High Meadows Farm to start growing raspberries and tomatoes. Read about it in one of four articles on how growers are appealing to the growing interest in edibles.

Read More

July 18, 2014

Meeting The Demand For Edibles: Altman Plants

Read about Altman Plants' venture into greenhouse vegetable production in one of four articles on how growers are appealing to the growing interest in edibles.

Read More

July 15, 2014

Cultivate’14: Vegetable Production Tour Highlight…

Check out photos from Greenhouse Grower's visit to CropKing Inc.'s research greenhouses as part of he vegetable production tour at Cultivate'14.

Read More

July 8, 2014

Veterans Are Well-Suited For Grower Jobs, And AgVets Is…

AgVets is breaking ground this summer with the first of up to 30 hydroponic greenhouse operations located throughout the country to provide produce to lower- and middle-income consumers.

Read More

June 27, 2014

Growing Beyond New York, Gotham Greens Is Developing Pr…

Gotham Greens is considering the potential for partnering with growers for new ventures in cities across the U.S.

Read More