Miniature vegetables are eye-catching and appealing, and are used by chefs in upscale restaurants or sold in gourmet stores. These irresistible vegetables enhance the presentation of food, adding color while providing essential nutrients. Miniature vegetables can be started anywhere, indoors or outside, in small pots or containers if you lack garden space. Grow a year’s supply of miniature vegetables of your choice in an area as small as a card table. Collaborate with local restaurants and supply them miniature vegetables according to their menus for several years.
Select good-quality seeds of the type of miniature vegetables you want to grow. Include vegetables for salads such as cherry tomatoes, miniature cucumbers and Tom Thumb lettuce; vine and root vegetables such as miniature or round carrots and fingerling potatoes; and miniature varieties of zucchini, onions, turnips and beets. Also include some miniature varieties of vegetables served whole such as pattypan squash, hot peppers, bell peppers, eggplant and pumpkins and some large vegetables such as cabbages and sweet corn that you can harvest early while they are small.
Fill 2-inch cell packs in seed starter trays with good quality-seed-starting medium to start them early indoors. Follow seed packet directions for seed depth of each variety. Dilute liquid fish emulsion with water and feed the seeds regularly, ensuring the soil is evenly moist. Use well water or rainwater if possible to prevent chlorine or additives found in tap water from hindering seed germination.
Prepare 2- to 3-foot-wide garden beds in the soil outside once the seedlings are 1 to 1½ inches tall. Rake the area to loosen compacted soil, and add a thick layer of compost over it. Rake it again to ensure the compost mixes with the soil well. Space the rows evenly apart.
Follow plant spacing directions when transplanting the seedlings outside. Plant full-sized vegetables such as turnips, beets and cabbages that you will harvest when they are still young at half the spacing distance specified on the packet.
Harvest miniature vegetables as soon as they mature, and deliver them to the restaurant within the next 24 hours. Check each vegetable as you harvest it and set it aside for delivery only if it is damage- and decay-free. Wash the vegetables thoroughly and pack them in small cartons or baskets.