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.
Celeste Longacre has been growing virtually all of her family’s vegetables for the entire year for over 30 years. She cans, she freezes, she dries, she ferments & she root cellars. She also has chickens.
Celeste has also enjoyed a longtime relationship with The Old Farmer’s Almanac as their astrologer!
Celeste's new book on living lightly on the Earth is due out September 25, 2014.