Saturday, March 13, 2010

Plant Some Corn Salad: Mache Verte D' Etampes

Spring has almost made it to the Ozarks! I say almost because we did have a few snow flakes yesterday. Of course, we were listening to tornado warnings the day before, so that is a sure sign that spring is on the way!

The coming of spring gets me in the gardening mood. This year I have planted a new green for us: Mache. I have never eaten it, but read about it a couple of years ago in Mother Earth News and tucked the information away in my brain. This year I decided I wanted to try some. During our early spring trip to Baker Creek seeds I found several varieties of mache seeds. I decided on the small seed variety: Mache Verte D’ Etampes.

Mache is popular in Europe and slowly becoming more available in the U.S. It is an old green commonly found growing wild in fields. It goes by several names: corn salad, lamb’s lettuce, and Rapunzel to name a few.

I planted Mache because it tolerates the cold better than other lettuce varieties. It is usually planted in the fall to grow most of the winter long. It will tolerate temps down to 5 degrees without much extra care. We do get colder than that here in the Missouri Ozarks, so I won’t have lettuce all winter long, but I will extend my season by quite a bit this fall.

When I went out to plant my mache last week, it was a wonderful warm day. I turned my garden spot over to get the soil ready and the bottom layer of the garden was still frozen. I brought the frozen bottom to the top of the garden, let it lay in the sun for a day, and then planted my little mache seeds.

God has been kind enough to give them a nice gentle rain and a few snow flakes to keep the soil moist. I can’t wait to see those little plants pop through the ground! If we like the taste of the Mache, I am going to save the seeds when it bolts this summer and plant a fall crop. Left alone, mache will self seed, but we rotate our spring, summer and fall crops in the same garden beds, so I will save the seeds for our fall crop. I might even try the large seed variety this fall too.

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