Growing and Saving Seed Of Corn Salad (Mache)
Latin name Valerianella locusta is a cool weather-loving annual, and a member of the caprifoliacae family. This low-growing leafy green produces a rosette of soft leaves. While the plants may seem delicate, they are in fact extremely cold hardy. Mache has recently gained recognition among the farm-to-table movement as a perfect winter farming green, and it is high in vitamin C.
Native to Europe, North Africa and western Asia. Historically documented as being a popular foraging crop by European peasants. Nicknamed "corn salad" because it was often found as a weed in cornfields.
- Its delicate, slightly nutty flavor makes it an excellent salad green.
- Direct sow seeds outdoors in early spring when soil is cool.
- Ideal germination temperature 41-68 F. Soil temperatures above 70 will inhibit germination.
- Sow seeds 1/4 inch deep.
- Sow seeds 1 inch apart, thinning to 3 inches between plants and in rows 4 inches apart. These plants are tiny and like to grow close together.
- Seeds germinate in 10-14 days.
- Full sun to part shade.
- Tolerant of a range of soils.
- Best harvested before flowers appear. V
- ery quick to grow and mature, the plant can complete its life cycle (sowing to mature seed) in 40-60 days, with the leaves being harvested much earlier than that.
- A relatively disease- and pest-free plant.
- Be sure to avoid high temperatures (consistently above 75-78 F) as this will cause premature bolting.
- Saving mache seeds is easy, but the seeds are quite small; be careful not to let them blow away.
- When seed heads dry, shake them into a paper bag or snip the flower heads and rub between the palms to release seeds.
- Separate chaff from seeds with a fine mesh sieve.
- Store seeds in a cool, dark, dry location.