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Claytonia (Miners Lettuce) marketing? 1st Permies post!

 
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I am thinking of selling at my local farmers market a few years down the road and I am researching the viability of many perennial/ self seeding annuals, one of which is Claytonia(Minors lettuce). My question is mainly about its expiration time after harvesting. Does anyone here know how long it can last after being cut before it starts wilting? I know it doesn't like heat, but I don't know if refrigeration would help extend its shelf life or not either, and I cant find this information online. What alternative self seeding or perennial greens would work better if it isn't as viable as I am hoping? The only other (somewhat mild) green I can think of is swiss chard, but I don't like its taste as much. I wish I had some miners lettuce right now to experiment with, but I don't. So happy to be posting to Permies, been lurking for a long time. Thanks!
 
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I grew some miners lettuce this last spring and as I recall it did fine for a couple of days in the refrigerator. I have no idea on how long after that it would last because I was just harvesting to eat it myself and I mostly just harvested as I needed it. My major problem was heat. It really had a short window of perfect greens for me and I live on the cool Oregon coast.

I would suggest growing some and experimenting on finding how well it does for you. If your plan is for selling in a few then a year growing it wouldn’t set you back and you can give growing, harvest season length, and storage a good trial. It tasted great but I still need to move it around a bit and find a place that it likes a bit more.

As far as other greens it will depend on your climate. If it’s mild tree collards are wonderful. Purslane self sows and is a good tasting one. Corn salad is also mild and easy and self seeds. Malabar spinach if you have heat and like spinach flavor. It tasted fine but I didn’t get enough heat for it to do well.   I can’t think of any others I have grown off hand that are mild.
 
pollinator
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Location: East tn
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Give sow thistle a try too. Its a nice mild green and it keeps well in the fridge for a few days at least.

Some collard greens can be treated as perennials and also keep real well for weeks in the fridge too.

To extend life of harvested greens, I wrap each bunch in a wet paper towel.
 
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Location: Ohio, USA
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Miners lettuce is short. Similarly, corn salad is also short. That is a harvest challenge I have decided to avoid, even though they do grow here. The flavor is fine. Nothing special, in my opinion. For here the novelty of corn salad is it lives through the winter. The novelty, however wears off once you realize spinach, some types of romain lettuce, cilantro, dandelion, some kale, some collards, Turkish rocket, horse radish, etc.. do the same. And, all together that makes an awesome salad without picking through miniature (and therefore low yielding) greens. Yeah, it's got a little bit of a bite to it, but so does arugula, which is another easy to seed save plant. The trick I found for dandelion palatability is cold weather plus 24 hours in the fridge. But if your not into bite, try romaine lettuce. It's easy enough to harvest the seed, and the ones I have bred can go in the ground from about mid September through June. Good luck!
 
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Welcome to permies!
The couple at One Yard Revolution love claytonia and grow it extensively.
They grow it over winter, undercover, in zone 5.
They also grow a lot if other self seeding and perennial greens.

Check them out here:
https://youtu.be/CcAoLOYOvtg

 
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Joshua, where are you located?  We have grown greens, mixed greens, micros and herbs for almost 15 years.  We have grown everything from Lincolnshire asparagus to claytonia to sorrel and on and on.  Started selling at markets and then moved on to restaurants exclusively.  If you are located in a market where some of the more unusual greens are appreciated then they will sell.  If its going to be an educational process trying to get folks to buy them its a really tough slog.  We have claytonia in our greenhouse that comes back year after year, same thing with tatsoi and bok choy etc.  From that standpoint they are great, but compared to the other 7=8 greens that we grow for our mix they don't add up.  We thought sorrel was going to be huge for us based on our early discussions with chefs, but it turns out it has so much flavor that they only buy a very little bit.  Same thing with lovage.
 
pollinator
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Hi Joshua , welcome to Permies.
It's growing in my garden abundantly, bought one packet of seeds a few years ago and saved it and spread it. It's everywhere now! Yay!
It's a bit of labor to keep other plants out, but totally worth it. I just go out with scissors and chop away. It pops up naturally around this time of year here. Now it doesn't have a lot of taste, but it's very nutritious and the structure of the plants is very interesting.
It won't keep well in the fridge at this stage, one leaf, not even round yet..
The bigger it gets the more it makes stems, which can be quite tough, the softer bits are like tauge then, sprouted seeds of mung bean. That might be better to sell and keep well in the fridge.

Why not grow it in trays for people to buy and take home ? Or cut it there and then to sell from the trays if they don't want to carry them. Always fresh produce and when they like it sell them seeds. You'll probably lose them as costumers in the long run because it self seeds, but their neighbors might come to buy when they tasted it.

Have you looked into land cress? That's a pirky one. Easy to grow and really gives a bite to a salad.
Which i found excellent as well is minutina/erba stella/ buckshornplantain, an italian lettuce with a nutty flavor, family of the plantain.

Good luck!
 
pollinator
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Eliot Coleman has written a lot about using Claytonia or Miners Lettuce and Corn Salad as winter market crops. You might check his books out from the library and read the relevant sections.

I have an odd curiosity about Miners Lettuce but it belongs in the seed saving / plant breeding forum. It turns out that there are many wild strains including three species, interspecies hybrids, and many varieties named and unnamed. The currently domesticated version doesn't capture much of this diversity. It seems to me that with a some seed collection and perhaps a little plant breeding, that we could have much more diverse miners lettuce more akin to the varied fancy lettuces. My only tie in for that is that I think it would make marketing even easier if you had more varieties.
 
pollinator
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Welcome to the forum @Joshua!  I'm sorry, but I'm not very familiar with Miners Lettuce.  I just wanted to say a little about the idea of selling Swiss Chard or any other vegetable that you don't really like the taste of.  I have learned as a market grower that it is okay to grow and sell vegetables that you don't particularly care for yourself.  Only a few people will ask you how you like to cook that particular item, to which you simply answer "I don't really care for the taste myself, I grow it for my customers."  Having at least a small variety, especially when you are starting out, will help you learn what your customers will buy and what's a waste of time to take to the market.  
 
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Location: Bealeton, VA
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Claytonia is a great perennial but I'm not sure how marketable it is because it does have a mucilagenous consistency.  It is very short lived in VA and dies back as soon as nice weather hits.

What about Deer Tongue lettuce? I find it will grow through cold and heat (part shade) and it self sows readily. It's like a regular lettuce and pests don't seem to bother it.
 
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miner's lettuce, in Pennsylvania, is productive as a winter coldframe and greenhouse crop from November through late spring. We add a lot to salad mixes. It self seed well and comes up again in the fall if left to self seed in a cold frame
 
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