Mache Sowing Instructions
Days to Germination: 5-14 days
Salad Greens yield the tastiest and most tender leaves when grown quickly in cool weather. Sow directly as soon as the soil may be worked in the spring and/or in the fall, about 6 weeks before the first fall frost. Follow the spacing on the chart above or broadcast seed in a well-dug bed in moderately fertile soil amended with compost and/or well-rotted manure. A light sprinkling of soil over the seed is sufficient, tamp down lightly and water well. For larger plants, thin seedlings to 10" to 12" apart. To harvest in the “cut and come again” method, you don’t need to thin them out. Just give them a haircut when they are 3" to 4" tall. Weed scrupulously and keep soil evenly moist. Feed with kelp or fish emulsion. Make successive sowings at 2 week intervals until hot summer weather sets in for a steady crop. Hot weather causes bolting and a bitter taste!
Hail to the Hardy Greens
Most garden greens can hardly wait for cool weather to come. They perk up and sweeten up as the mugginess of August fades away. Crops such as Spinach, Arugula, Claytonia and Mâche, if protected by a cold frame or simple unheated greenhouse, survive the winter in cold climates, to be cut and re-cut for a continuous harvest. Sow them in September in the north, October in warmer parts of the country. They do best hunkering down, close to the earth. Lettuce and Endive over-winter best when cut at baby leaf size rather than full-sized heads.
Kale, Collards and Brussels Sprouts fare better if grown to full size and left outdoors to soldier on as long as they can, since they do not re-grow if cut back in winter. We can often harvest them for our Christmas table, even in snowy Maine.
Mache is great crop for a winter cold frame because it is so compact. It can be sown in rows as close as 2” apart, or just broadcast in patches, then thinned. Sow a succession of plantings throughout the fall. To harvest, slide a small, serrated kitchen knife just under the soil surface so that the heads can be used whole in salads. Swish them thoroughly in water before eating to dislodge particles of soil and other debris.