Mesclun Mix
A Fast and Easy Salad

What’s Mesclun? It's is a mixture of edible young leaves from a variety of plants,

widely used to create interesting salads. It is very easy to grow and lends itself readily to container growing. In many ways it is better grown in a container where it is neat and easy to access. It is a bit more labour intensive to harvest than one big head of lettuce so it’s great having it in a high container where you can stand up and pick the leaves. Most of the seed catalogues now package a variety of Mesclun mixes, saving us the trouble of buying several packages of different seeds.

Where To Grow It? We all have containers that are really quite useless because they are too shallow to hold a day’s supply of water for a large plant. Filled with a few dozen immature lettuce plants these shallow planters become excellent Mesclun growers. We are interested in a large surface area to accommodate lots of little plants but their roots are unlikely to even reach the bottom of this shallow container before we are finished harvesting. We can only cut small leaves from these plants for a very few weeks before the plants will stretch out and become unuseable.

mesclun How Long Does It Take? This short lifespan has it’s good and bad points. We can start a pot of Mesclun at any time and expect a good harvest in just a few weeks. We can have two or three of these containers and plant them a couple of weeks apart so that we have a study supply of greens for salads all summer. They could even be grown under the lights in the basement to supply Mesclun all year if you were that dedicated. I’m not. The shallow containers are relatively light and are therefore quite moveable. Keep the one that you are harvesting near the kitchen and the developing ones around the back somewhere.

mesclun cutting

How Do I Do It? Use a light soiless mix to fill the container. It makes it easier to carry it around and it is clean and easy to wash from the harvested leaves. Sprinkle the seed mixture on the surface of the soil and then just disturb it lightly with your finger tips. This lets the seed settle into the soil so that it can find adequate moisture to germinate. Water with a fine spray so that you don’t blast the seeds out of the soil and have them all puddle in one corner. Keep the soil surface moist until the seeds have germinated. They will not all germinate at the same time so watch the seedlings until you see several different types emerging. Reduce the watering frequency, allowing the surface to just become dry thus forcing the roots to grow down into the soil looking for water. They can probably complete their useful life without any fertilizer but you will get sturdier, darker green leaves if you send them a little nourishment. When I’m fertilizing the rest of my containers, I give the Mesclun pot a shot as I’m going by. The moment I apply this soluble fertilizer the Mesclun ceases to be an organic crop. You can solve this dilemma, if that’s important to you, by using an organic liquid fertilizer such as fish emulsion. Will that give your salad a slightly, “sardine” flavour? That’s an experiment I will leave to your taste buds.

Check the seed catalogues carefully. Some package more than one mix. They can be very mild or quite spicy, depending on seeds that they incorporate into their mixes. Choose one that suits your taste or grow a couple of different ones so that you can vary the taste and texture of your dinner salad. This is really a quick and easy start to vegetable gardening.

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