Renee's Garden Seeds
When I think of mixing flowers with vegetables in creative ways, the name Renee Shepherd comes to mind.
Renee is a world-renowned seed expert who travels the globe in search of the finest quality seeds to add to her ever-growing collection.
Renee's Company, appropriately named Renee's Garden, has grown into a thriving business, and I visited Renee at her home and got a tour of her trial garden.
Renee Shepherd, Renee's Garden, Felton, California: I look all over the world, really, for new varieties and I grow them out here for a season or two and use them, whether it's flowers for bouquets or herbs and vegetables for cooking, because I don't want to recommend or sell something that I haven't grown myself and can't talk about with other gardeners.
Allen: Renee, I like the way you've mixed flowers and herbs in among the vegetables, it's a great effect.
Renee: Thanks, I like to do it because the one gives me an idea of how to use the other. Let me show you what I mean over here. Most people really enjoy growing basil and it's a natural partner for tomatoes, but what they don't realize is that from seed they can grow cinnamon, lemon, anise flavored basil.
Allen: A lot of varieties. I'm sure that even the flowers make the table.
Renee: Oh, I pick a bouquet most nights and it's a good segue for me between different parts of my life. It centers me, and quiets me and I really enjoy it.
Allen: I have to agree. I think that my vegetable garden is probably, of all the little garden spaces I have, my favorite because there is so much diversity and it does inspire me. You know, Renee, I like the mixes of lettuces you offer as well.
Renee: Oh good, let me show you some; I have you some growing right here.
Allen: You know these mesclun mixes have become really popular.
Renee: Yes they have, and mesclun simply means a mixture of salad greens -and here are a few of my favorites. I do a lot of them and I find them all over.
Allen: There's a lot of argula in it.
Renee: Right now, it changes seasonally, it has arugula and a couple of different kinds of lettuce, some chickaree and some very French herb, chervil… it has kind of a sweet anis taste. What's nice about this mesclun is that you grow it thickly, like grass seed, and when it gets this tall, about 4-5 inches, you simply cut it leaving one inch crowns, and there you have it, baby salad greens; you rinse and get out the oil and vinegar.
Allen: A beautiful salad.
Renee: It's beautiful and it taste wonderful because it has all the flavors and colors in it.
Allen: And this is kitchen gardening anyone can do.
Renee: I think growing these mesclun salad mixes anyone can do, whether you have a big or small space. For example, these will grow easily in containers. After you cut it, it will grow again for a second crop. I wanted to show you another mix I've got growing too. This is a mix of old fashioned varieties.
Allen: Beautiful range of color.
Renee: Well that's why I wanted to show it to you, because I agree with you. It has these beautiful speckled leaves and some red romaine and some little butter lettuce and they are all soft, rich, sweet flavors.
Allen: When did you plant this? It's what, probably a month old?
Renee: It's very quick to maturity. I would say 30-45 days for a crop.