Some answers about baby salad greens, specialty and gourmet greens can clear the air for you
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
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- Q. Just what are specialty greens?
A. Specialty greens comprise a number of lettuces plus items such as arugula, finnochio, watercress, endive, escarole and others which are used in salads in better menus both at home and at finer restaurants. The leaves of each ingredient are from 2-3 inches long and are quite tender.
- Q. Why are such salads in demand?
A. People have acquired a desire for the various tastes which are found in such salad mixes. The Europeans have been doing this for some time. In fact you can go to most European markets and buy mesclun mixes which is another term for specialty greens mixed in a fashion which is pleasing to the customer palate. Europeans often purchase such mesclun mixes to be used at home.
- Q. Are these items difficult to grow?
A. No, lettuces and specialty greens are rather easy to grow. In fact no special equipment is needed. Ordinary garden tools are all that's needed in most cases.
- Q. What about the cost? Are specialty greens expensive?
A. Yes, that's where you come in if you want to make a living growing gourmet or specialty greens (sometimes called baby salad greens). The wholesale selling price of specialty greens is around $8.00 per pound. When that mix comes to your table at a restaurant, the price by weight has been increased considerably.
- Q. So what's the difference between regular salad preparations and specialty greens?
A. The difference is in price and content. We're not talking here of just plain head lettuce or even the average leaf lettuce. We're talking about a variety of items which can comprise a salad mix. And we're talking about young tender 2-3 inch leaves as opposed to more mature much longer leaves.
- Q. What has all this have to do with the grower's problems?
A. The grower has more work to do. He has to have a very clean crop. He has to continually select only the young tender leaves. He has to grow and package what the customer wants. No longer is he engaged in a one or two crop operation. Now he has to have several types of greens growing all at once. His timing has to be more accurate. He and his staff must be more educated to the whims of the consumer.
- Q. What kind of future is involved in growing specialty greens?
A. The future looks very bright indeed. Since specialty greens are designed for a more discriminating consumer who has the money to pay for what he wants and whose numbers seem to be rising, specialty greens should increase in volume as time goes by. The market for specialty greens has just recently begun in the American market. That leaves a lot of open space for new growers to occupy.
- Q. But won't the market price diminish with more production?
A. Not likely. Remember this is a specialized market where taste dictates what's grown. The market should continue to grow and the price remain stable.
- Q. If I wanted to make this more than just a family hobby, what would be the best way to start out?
A. First you need to find out what mixes are the favorites in your area. Then you need to contact buyers in the area who might be interested in what you grow. After that you should concentrate on no more than five different plant items for growing in your own operation. After you're better known and have a good clientele, you can add items which may be of interest to the customers in your area.
- Q. Isn't growing all these varieties of greens somewhat messy?
A. It better not be. Customers don't like dirt in their food. So you have to learn to grow plants where dirt is a minor and. if possible, nonexistent problem.
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FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
WE HAVE THREE BOOKS THAT MAY BE OF INTEREST TO YOU.
They are as follows:
"How to Start on a Shoestring and Make a Profit with Hydroponics"
"Big Dollars Growing Gourmet Salad Greens"
"Beneficial Insects - How to Mass Rear and Make a Profit"
If you would like a copy or copies of your own,