Last year, I experimented with sowing late in the fall for early spring production. I planted some salad leaves: lettuce and mache in late October. Some of the salad leaves and lettuce germinated but didn’t grow much at all. In fact, they were tiny, and I thought the plants are going to die in the cold of Winter, but for the sake of experiment, I left them in the garden bed. I covered the bed with hay and nothing else, and I kind of forgot about it.
I especially forgot about the Mache. It didn’t even germinate.
Suddenly, about a week ago, I started seeing little, beautiful rosettes popping out everywhere. I think the reason is that we had a couple of nice weeks with temperatures in the high 40s low 50s.
I immediately started planting more of this wonderful, hardy salad member.
Mache is super easy to grow. It is very hardy and can be planted in cold soil. The seeds are of medium size, so it’s easy to handle, and the best part is that once the seeds germinate, the plant grows very fast. In two to three weeks, you’ll have fresh salad leaves.
Mache will germinate when soil temperature is between 40F-68F. Above 68F and the seeds will go dormant.
To check your soil temperature, simply stick a kitchen thermometer, like this one, in it.
To plant, make a shallow furrow, about 1/4” deep. Plant the seeds an inch apart in rows as close as 4” apart. You can plant many seeds in a very small area. Cover the seeds lightly with soil.
Mache germinates slowly in 10-14 days.
As a farmer, I am already in love with this crop. For many reasons, not only one. Aside from it being so tasty, easy to grow, and I am sure — easy to market since it’s so beautiful, it’s an added crop/income to my garden plan. It grows so fast that I can plant it where tomatoes or other Summer vegetables are going to be planted later in the spring. By the time the tomatoes, cucumbers, winter squash, peppers, or eggplants are ready to be planted, the mache will be far gone.
In some areas of the South, Mache can be grown all through the Winter. You can also grow it in pots, and it is extremely hardy.
After it had germinated, we had a very cold week (temperatures in the 20s). Yesterday, it even snowed. I didn’t cover the rosettes with mulch or fabric, or film. In the morning, I moved the ice away, and there they were, lounging in the ice without a care in the world.
I get my mache seeds at Johnny’s here. I am very excited to take this crop to the market, but even more excited to have fresh salads from the garden so early in the season!
Did you ever hear of mache? Did you ever grow mache?
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