mesclun production by novice

nan and stewart stewart at watervalley.net
Mon Aug 14 10:13:48 EDT 2000


hi folks...i am planning to start a mixed baby salad greens business where i grow ready-to-wash n'eat salad mix, with edible flowers/a few herbs, plus bunches of chard, kale, collards, turnip greens, mustards and rape (ready to wash n/ stir fry) - all grown organically - for about 15 families

each family has indicated that they will want one pound a week of the salad greens and a bunch of the stir fry greens.

excess produce may be marketed to a local supermarket (small grocery store that may like the ready to wash n/eat aspect even more than the organically grown, here in north mississippi)

though i have worked a mesclun operation before (winter greenhouse/summer fields) for sale to farmers market and restaurant, i was never in charge of it, and am not sure how to figure out amount of seeds = lb. of mixed greens  per week per family.

i will be growing from november to april..so slower growing time for plants due to lower light, (by the way, i found a great organic fertilizer especially formulated for winter greens, i.e. for greens growing in low light, whether outdoors or greenhouse, from territorial seed company, calls rootsplus -it is a liquid and i used it several times over the winter and plan to use it again.  evidently using fish emulsion for the nitrogen is not so great in winter, as plants don't metabolize it as well and can lead to aphid infestations as plant sugars get out of balance...read this in "growing for market"newletter  last winter - excellent newsletter by the way....


anyway, i had about 20 heads of loose leaf lettuces planted last winter and i would pick out leaves every week, so the head lasted about 2-3 months, but i was thinking of rotating different varieties and replanting at some point in season, and never did try to figure out how many families i could feed, since i was only marketing as a trial....

but had great success last year with trial customers (they liked the taste, the mix, the look of it, the convenience and the fact that it was grown organically and incredibly fresh)

i charged $5.00/lb and sold in half and quarter lb. sizes...i have one of marie's great scales (just arrived...what a great deal..and those folks were so nice -thanks) so it will be easy to give small amounts....

my labor probably isn't even covered, but i figure i am still experimenting - last year it was on growing the lettuces, this year on getting production/timing of transplants, etc. down pat..i have the salad video from territorial seed company, but she grows much larger amounts, i want to stick to my 15 families and see how that goes, then may expand, or add other products

i will be dropping everyone's order off once a week at a herbal shop about 12 miles away in oxford, ms (but i go there anyway on other errands)...shop owner will store produce and families can come anytime during that day of the week and get their order (all families are in oxford) and check off in the log book..then bill once a month (???)...so i don't have to stick around all day and families have convenience of coming anytime (not just from say, 8 - 12) and not having to have change every time.....

since there is no source of any organic produce around here at all (except occasional limp celery, tiny prewashed carrots or expensive mixed salad greens from california at the big Kroger chain in oxford) folks are happy to get the stuff, even at slight inconvenience....my friend will add his free range eggs to the pickup day....i would add the goat milk but by law must sell it on the farm......

any thoughts out there?   you can tell my summer season is ending here and the fall growing season hasn't started, so when it is 102 degrees outside i can sit by the computer and let the buckwheat grow and smother out the late summer weeds, but i do need to order the seeds in september....THANKS

nan at dancing goats farm, mississippi
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