Celeste in the Garden

Growing Mache

Celeste Longacre

Mache is a small green that is very high in carotenoids, essential fatty acids and minerals. I grow it in my garden window during the late fall and winter months.

It likes cold weather; it won’t even germinate if the temperatures get above 70 degrees F. So, once it gets cold (usually late October here), I sow it outside in a couple of window boxes. I take some of my home-made potting soil (compost that has been heated by the soil sterilizer) and mostly fill the window boxes. Then, I broadcast the seeds thickly. These I cover with another ¼ inch of potting soil. I water well immediately.

After the seeds have germinated and the weather is beginning to freeze on a regular basis (generally November here), I bring the window boxes in and place them in my garden window. As the tiny plants emerge, they look like little rabbit ears. They come up thickly because I have been generous with the sowing. So, I thin them and add them to my salads.

 The leftovers grow and I thin them again. This continues all winter long—each plant that gets left becomes bigger and bigger.

 By the spring, I will have only two or three plants left in each box, but they are covering the entire window boxes. These I let go to seed and I collect the seeds for the following year. The following picture is only of two plants left!

While it doesn’t comprise the entire salad, it’s really nice to have something fresh to add to the winter-CSA greens (or store-bought lettuce). It’s absolutely fresh and it gives me some important essentials. While this item is available in stores in Europe, it isn’t easily found in supermarkets here. However, it is well worth the effort to grow a little for the winter.


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Hi I have a Thai basil that

Hi I have a Thai basil that during the spring and summer grows in my north facing bed. Will this basil regrow it self from seed? I moved several plants in doors before the first frost, along with sweet basil but neither are doing well. I left one plant in the garden to go to seed. I wrapped the base of the plant and covered it until our first snow. I live in south-central New Mexico.

Hi Aileen, I'm not quite

Hi Aileen,

I'm not quite sure if your basil will regrow. It depends on a lot of things. Changes in humidity are very hard on seeds. Next year, pick some of the seeds and bring them in to dry and then store in a glass jar. You may get lucky this year, though. I often don't have good luck bringing plants in from the garden, either. I think the quick changes in temperature, humidity and sunlight shocks them.

Thank you I will try this

Thank you I will try this next.