Working in a produce warehouse, I am always amazed that we don't carry baby "bright lights" chard. I think the bitter mesclun thing is a little old and worn out myself. And when ever there is a tour of our warehouse, customers are always taken through the organics room so they can see the cases of full grown bright lights chard because there is nothing else that gets that kind of reaction or has that kind of eye appeal. It is absolutely beautiful! And sweet! I grow it at home and clip it when it's three to four inches and add it to baby lettuces to perk up my salad bowl. Add a handful of sweet 100 cherry toms, some sweetened dried cranberries, a handful of cashew halves, a little ranch dressing, and I've got dinner! It is the easiest thing to grow. I've had strays in a crack in the sidewalk. Give it a try!
I went to order a catalogue to make sure they're still in business and they are...check out pinetree gardens seeds. They have an extensive list of lettuces with great descriptions and the packets are inexpensive. It's the catalogue I let myself go hog wild with and order anything I want because I know the total $ amount won't ever break my budget. I've grown a lot of their stuff from individual packets but my favorite is their custom lettuce mix. Give them a try!
Thanks Ducky! I've got the Pinetree catalogue open in front of me and am lookiing at the entry for "Bright Lights." It looks great. I'd never thought of putting chard in a salad, but I'm up for trying it. Am I too late or too early to plant the seeds?
And welcome to ChefTalk! Why don't you stop by the Welcome Forum and introduce yourself to everyone. And I'd like to hear more about your produce warehouse.
It's never too late to plant especially if you're harvesting it when it's still small. May be a little early though. It's still pretty cold (at least here in Portland OR even though our ice storm has passed). I'll try to stop in later tonight and tell a little more about myself. I'm planning on making a list of my other favorite catalogues too. I'm pretty excited to see this gardener's corner. The other foodie websites don't have this!
I like to grow mesculin mixes and heirloom lettuces.
My favorite source is Baker Creek, they have 29 varieties of lettuce including everything from "Forellenschluss - an Old Austrian heirloom, the name means 'speckled like a trout'; a superb, gorgeous romaine lettuce, that is highly splashed in deep red. Very beautiful and tasty" to "Tom Thumb - An heirloom lettuce that dates to the 1850s. It makes small cabbage-like green heads, only 3"-4" across."
They have over 900 varieties of heirloom vegetables and have maintained their standing in the top 20 of mail order garden companies (out of over 3000) for several years at the Garden Watchdog because of the quality of their seeds and service. A special bonus is that you can order as much as you want and shipping is a flat $2.50.
If you want to plant, go ahead. Lettuce can do pretty well in cooler temperatures and in many cases cold temperatures eliminate bitterness. The seeds will know when the optimum environment is for them to do their thing.
Welcome to ChefTalk! I'll have to try your recipe, sounds delicious!
Actually, there's a whole community of gardeners across the country who believe it's never to early to plant either. It's called Winter Sowing, and here is the FAQ. They actually plant throughout the winter months with great success and the plants tend to be hardier than those started in controlled environments like greenhouses.
You may also be particularly interested in this Vegetable Gardening Forum. You can learn a ton just by browsing the threads, or ask about anything you need to.
I'm confused: has "Baker Creek" changed its name to "Rare Seeds"? I hope not. It will sound like too many other companies. I love them either way and am currently eating my way through a crop of their Euro Mesclun. :lips: By the way, have you changed your mind about tomatoes yet?
Ducky, I'm looking forward to hearing what catalogues you use. I rely on Baker Creek, Tomato Growers Supply Company, Territorial (though their shipping fee is getting a bit high), and just started using Pinetree.
And you'll love the gardening forums Mudbug mentioned. They're very helpful (but please don't desert us ). We're both there, just under different names
Have I changed my mind about tomatoes? That's kind of a difficult question. I've decided the only variety I know for certain that is absolutely amazing is the Cherokee Purple. Keep in mind that even within the same varieties, growing conditions even from yard to yard can affect the flavor. I've found that the third tomato from the vine is usually the best flavored. Other than that, tomatoes in general are not something I crave but home grown and minutes from the vine is definitely the only way to go - the same goes for peas, corn, and brussel sprouts, especially corn.
If you're into greens, you should definitely consider growing mache.
Over the years I've gotten a ton of catalogues but any more Pinetree is the one I order from. Most of them I keep as reading material. I've threatened to start a little "library" here at work so people can read up. I'm always amazed when I'm answering the questions of seasoned produce salesmen and all my answers come from being a gardener and searching for the perfect varieties of plants. Catalogues that specialize in one thing like Totally Tomatoes or Vermont Bean Co. are always a good resource. And while most companies sell generic garlic isn't Territorial the one with a couple dozen varieties of garlic? I haven't picked up my catalogue yet this year but I believe that's the one that gets into the textures, flavors and storage of all different kinds of garlic. I love that! I keep saying I'm going to get a copy of the potato catalgue, I believe is called Irish Eyes. Anyway, I keep them all for reading even more than ordering. They're such a great source of information!