Friday, October 15, 2010

A Sweet & Crunchy addition

We are always on he lookout for new varieties to add to our list. Something just a little different, a plant to make our list a little more attractive than the next seedling suppliers. This process needs some caution, only five years ago we had two lettuce varieties on our My Vegie Garden seedling list. We now have 8, if you include Winter Salad. The more variety we offer the more difficult it is to manage the inventory. On the other hand our industry is not alone in discovering that if we offer our consumers a greater range there is a good chance that they will purchase more.

Like our new label design?  Keep it simple, we're very happy with it.

Anyway, we have plenty of ideas for new varieties and plenty of suggestions form friends, customers and seed suppliers.  Some are terrific and worth producing new labels for, others are terrific but we know we will never sell enough plants to warrant the production of labels.  It's that simple really. This lead to a search for Bantam Corn over the past winter. Great plant, I had planned production but drew a blank when I discovered I could only buy seed in retail packets. However, while I was hunting for Bantam Corn I kept reading about a mini Cos lettuce: Little Gem (follow the link for the best description I have found).

Click on the image for Little Gem's own blog!

The process of selecting plants goes back and forward amongst our staff and when my Pommie mate Mark heard about Little Gem I got the response I was looking for (we grow Jap Pumpkin because it's my mums favourite).  Before emigrating Mark worked in the wholesale vegie industry in Lankashire. Little Gem is the most popular Lettuce in Europe, in Mark's considered opinion.  Wildly popular with chefs and foodies for it's sweet flavour and individual serving size. That's the one, just have to source the seed... yes we found a supply. Organic!

We haven't had the chance to grow any out yet but the seedlings make a beautiful punnet (neat and compact)  and they have been perfectly well behaved, not showing any signs of disease susceptibility. They are also quick to ripen taking only about 5 weeks which is usually a good sign with Lettuce that they will be easy to care for. A word of warning, don't let them sit in the garden too long, they apparently can get bitter. Turn them over quickly and put in a fresh batch.

Please give Lettuce Little Gem a try and let me know what you think.

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