How are you doing? Hope you’re having a good summer. This week my other half Doug and I did something a bit different. We held a lettuce tasting session with my neighbour Nina and her daughter Ellie (as you do!). DJ’s gardening ambitions have grown exponentially since winning Billericay in Bloom for his vegetable patch in 2010 and now he has got into growing salad lettuce in a big way. He is planning to start up a (very, very) small business called Sweet Pea Salads to grow the salad himself and supply it to a small number of local outlets. The salad bags will be grown along organic lines, although not certified at present, and feature a variety of lettuce leaves and even occasionallly edible flowers.
At the moment he is just growing the leaves in our back garden and trialling bags of them with friends. But his aim in the short-term is to find some land to rent to enable him to run a small lettuce-growing trial. Ideally we’d like to find somewhere in the Essex countryside both to live and grow the salad but, the property market being what it is at the moment, we have yet to sell our place and make that dream reality. So if you know of anywhere that’s available to rent in a 5 mile radius of the Billericay area – say about 1/4 acre at the moment – let us know!
In the meantime, Nina and her family have been busy sampling Doug’s produce each week and have become fans. Even the kids like to eat it, which is amazing! Last week Ellie even complained to her mum that her school lunchbox was boring because it didn’t include Doug’s salad! This week at our tasting session the four of us tried out a variety of leaves which Doug grows, including red-veined sorrel, bergamot, mottistone lettuce, rosemore lettuce, bull’s blood, which is a beetroot leaf, yellow chard, orche and even a variety of basils, including lime and cinnamon.
It’s amazing how we can tolerate strong flavours in our salads when they’re actually in a mixture of salad leaves, because individually we found some of the leaves quite tart! The sorrels didn’t go down well with Ellie, despite the broad palate she has for a seven-year-old. But the mottistone, rosemore and bridgemere leaves were popular all round. Nina was particularly taken with the lime basil, being a fan of basils generally (although I don’t know whether she’d include messieurs Fawlty and Brush in that list).
Anyway. It was definitely a useful session and great fun. These are hard times still, and all the scary newspaper stories about the problems in the Eurozone serve to remind us all of that. But it feels good to be getting on with something, even if it is just building a very tiny business like this, so I’m very proud of Doug for trying something new! I’ll let you know how he gets on.