Spring Salad at Your Front Door
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
URBANA, Ill. - Mesclun is a
mixture of assorted small, baby salad leaves also known as a mesclun mix. You
can purchase mesclun bagged in cellophane at your grocer. Yet freshly harvested
from a few square feet in your patio, garden, or front stoop, mesclun is an
easy tender treat, said a University of Illinois Extension horticulture
April 5, 2014
flavors are in the mix? Arugula, mustard greens, and chicories have a strong
peppery flavor," said Nancy Pollard. "Endive presents a peppery bitter
note. Radicchio has a combination sweet-and-bitter taste. Some describe spinach
as mineral in taste, but sweet when young. Sorrel has a tart, tangy acid taste
like a lemon or sour green apple.
one of these alone can be overpowering. Yet mixed with an equal quantity
of mild lettuces and a simple dressing, they present a pleasing layering of
flavors to savor," she said.
they do best in full sun, these greens will grow nearly as well in light
shade. Plant the salad seed mix in March to early May when soils reach
about 40 degrees F. These cool-season greens are sweetest when grown in
cool weather. Plant again in August or September as cool late summer and fall
nights favor them as well.
could grow these in a half barrel or other container while waiting to plant
warm-season flowers or veggies," she said. "And they only take a few
weeks and a few square foot of soil.
often sprout in about a week. Other greens will take about two weeks to
germinate so you can sow them separately if you wish and then mix them at
harvest. You could also purchase a mesclun seed packet that is premixed. Sow
only as much as you and your family will eat in a week, and then if you have
space, repeat every week two or three times to have new baby salad coming on
over the whole season."
these greens have small seeds that are best sown on the surface of loosened
soil. If growing the seeds in a pot, Pollard recommends moistening the
soil first so the seeds aren't washed away when trying to moisten the soil.
sprinkle the seed about a half-inch apart, and then cover with only about
one-quarter inch of soil. Some suggest you practice sowing fine seed on a paper
towel first until you get the feel of distributing the seed evenly about
one-half inch apart. Then mist to thoroughly moisten the top dressing of
soil. Keep seeds moist but not soaking during the germination
time. Birds sometimes like to harvest the seed before they sprout so consider
covering them with netting if you think feathered visitors might be tempted.
harvesting your crop when the greens reach just 2 or 3 inches tall, often in
only a month or so," Pollard said. "Don't let them get more than 5 or 6
inches tall before snipping them off with scissors for your salad. If you cut
them about an inch above soil level, most often the crowns will
and a light fertilizer after harvest will bring on additional delicate greens
from the remaining crowns. If you used slow-release fertilizer in the
potting soil, you will not need to add more fertilizer unless it is a fall
planting and you have used the soil all summer for other crops. With a little
planning, you will have this fresh salad available at your doorstep," she said.
Source: Nancy Pollard, Extension Educator, Horticulture, email@example.com