Winter Garden Crop For Your Home Garden

Though mesclun could be labeled ‘Spring and Summer’ crop, too

One of the easiest vegetable garden crops to grow is Mesclun, a French idea that combines the French genius for eating well with the healthy bonus of adding fresh greens easily into your diet. Easy to grow, and easy to fix, Mesclun is simply a salad mix of an assortment of small, young salad leaves. It is this mix that gives it a much longer season than one crop such as Bibb or Romaine lettuces, although it may include both those plants in the seed mixture.


One of the greens included in many Mesclun mixes is kale. Kale is quite hardy in Ohio and other zone 5 climate zones. It is a leafy green that is packed with nutrients, and will persist year to year. Being a member of the Cruciferous family, this hardy plant raises the one caveat I have in planting your little bed of Mesclun greens: beware of clubroot. I learned the hard way when leaving kale to grow and then trying to plant my broccoli in the same area the next year. Clubroot!

Clubroot is a disease that all members of the Cruciferous vegetables are prone to suffer. It will stunt the growth and diminish production in the most disappointing way. What can you do? Prevention is key, by rotating the Cruciferous vegetable crops. So at the end of your season, or in the spring, be sure to till all remaining kale plants under. Then change the area in which you plant the new bed of this type of plant.

White House Vegetable Garden

Rotation of crops is a good growing practice to incorporate into your vegetable garden methods. Rotation of crops helps prevent the occurrence of such diseases as clubroot, tomato blights and other types of plant disease.

Lettuce mixes are also easy to grow inside. They do like lots of sun and cool temperatures, but many people use the Aerogarden to provide a harvest of greens.

While price may not be a factor, the idea of freshness, and control of growing and handling conditions might be. It is just one alternative to growing some of your own food.

AeroGarden 0003-00Z Salad Greens Seed Kit

Salad Leaves @ The Allotment, Sheffield

What Does Your Mesclun Garden Mix Grow?

It could be “dozens of lettuce varieties: from the more traditional iceberg, bib, Boston and butterhead, to the arugula, endive, escarole, rocket, romaine and radicchio. Depending on variety these will come in an array of greens and reds. Leaves will be frilly, rounded, pointed or oak-leaf shaped. In any salad mix you may also find baby spinach, bunches of tiny radishes, cherry tomatoes and perhaps something more unusual like dandelion, chicory or fennel.” –Local Harvest Org.

Theoretically you could create your own mix of greens, but there are so many wonderful and tasty ones available, and they are so economically priced, it doesn’t seem as though you would need to do that.

mesclun

Lettuce Mesclun Farmer’s Market Blend Seed From Botanical InterestTango 15%, Royal Oak Leaf 15%, Red Salad Bowl 32%, Black Seeded Simpson 15%, Grand Rapids TBR 15%, Red Sails 8%.Emerges in 5-10 days | Plant Seed 1/8″ deep for lots of baby greens


Raised Garden Beds

Raised garden beds are probably the ideal way to grow a small patch of greens. You can provide better soil, locate it near your kitchen door, and it looks nice and neat all through the year. Makes weeding an easy chore, too.

Frame It All - Simple Modular Gardens

Raised boxes are ideal for growing a mesclun crop

Thoughts on raised garden beds:
Raised Garden Beds
Raised-Bed Gardening

How to grow mesclun?

Just like any lettuce mix, the seeds are sown shallowly in good soil that is fertile and crumbly in texture. Full sun is best, but lettuces will tolerate part-sun and still grow well. Lettuces need moisture, since they

To insure protection from hard frost, a cover could be used, or a cold frame. In fact, it is the ideal crop to start in a cold frame at the time of the first frost.

Lettuces like feeding, and they respond well to added nitrogen which is important for good leafy growth. Some organic fertilizers and amendments to use:

composted manures, leafmold, mushroom compost, greensand, micro-nutrients, bloodmeal, fish emulsion, seaweed emulsions, crabwaste and lime- which is added to make the soil more alkaline.

Lettuces and food crops like a pH of 6.0 to 6.7.

Due to the large lettuce component of a mesclun mix, these are cool weather crops and optimum temperature for growth and development would be 60 to 650 F

Information resource

How Should I Harvest Mesclun?

These are best as “baby greens”. Harvest the tender young plants whole if they are thinnings, otherwise, when the biggest plants reach three to four inches tall. Rotate your harvesting of cuttings around the bed, giving the freshly harvested greens time for a second harvesting. If using a cover or coldframe, harvest when temperatures are above freezing.

fun facts

The term “Mesclun” comes from the Nicoise dialect word for a mixture of tender, young salad greens.