Miniature vegetables are growing in popularity as Quebec producers look for new ways to diversify.

In St.-Remi, south of Montreal, cabbage grower and world traveler Martin Riendeau has planted 5 acres of mini cabbage popular in Holland.

“It’s sweeter and more tender than regular cabbage, and makes a healthy alternative to lettuce,” said Riendeau, of Les Jardins Martin Riendeau Inc.

His father, Remi, co-owner of Les Fermes Emilien Riendeau with his brother Florent, has cultivated cabbage for nearly 45 years, and produces about 200 acres of green, red, savoy and Chinese cabbage.

One of the mini varieties is an oval head with a pointed tip that weighs about 1 pound when mature. That’s just enough for a salad for two, he said, while a regular green cabbage may languish in the fridge for a week or more.

“When I go to the grocery store, I don’t see many people putting a cabbage in their cart,” Riendeau said. “This generation is used to variety, and they like to try new things.”

The mini’s size and shape is a hit with kids, he said.

“They prefer to eat the pointed cabbage over regular cabbage.”

To prevent the seeds from growing to full size, he must plant them close together and fertilize differently so they’ll form compact heads.

The small volume brings higher costs, he said, and employees must be extra careful not to mix up the seeds for the different varieties.

When harvested in mid-July, Riendeau’s pampered crop is bound for Sobey’s.

He plans to sell the 1-pound mini for $1.29 each and the pointed one for $1.49 each. Regular cabbage sells for about 60 cents a pound, he said.

The grower said he feels compelled to try new varieties because the supply for regular Quebec cabbage is growing every year, exceeding demand.

“Cabbage is easy to grow here,” he said, “and even growers who specialize in other crops will grow some cabbage on the side. And we have a small market — the entire population of Quebec would fit into New York City.”

Though he already plans to expand his crop next year, Riendeau said his biggest challenge is to introduce his babies to consumers.

“It’s still experimental,” he said. “Now we need the consumer’s verdict.”