Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Mache Corn Salad

What is Mache Corn Salad?... Also known as Lamb's Lettuce,Lamb's Tongue, and field salad, and hey..it even has a fairytale character's name too..yeah..this stuff is even known as... Rapunzel!?
So...just what is this stuff, and how is it used and grown?
For starters... Mache Corn Salad had its beginnings in Europe, where it was originally foraged for by European peasants during the time of King Louis XIV. It was then introduced to the world...so the saying goes... by the king's gardener.Something tells me this gardener knew a good thing when he/she saw it.
This plant now grows wild, basically as a "common weed"... in parts of Europe, Asia, and even Africa.

So...what is so special about something that is known as a "common weed" in some parts of the world?

Well, you'll find it quite interesting that this "common weed" contains quite a few vitamins and nutrients that your body would thank you for.
It contains up to three times more vitamin C than lettuce does, it also contains vitamins B6 and B9, as well as omega- 3 fatty acids. Pretty good if I dare say for a mere "weed".

So, what other redeeming qualities does this mere "weed" offer to the gardener?...
Well, it actually is said to be one of the mildest and tenderest tasting salad greens with an ever so slight "nutty" taste.
It pairs well with most any salad green, adding a nice contrast to salads.It can even be eaten like spinach if you cook the leaves quickly.
It also combines nicely with fruits for a light summer salad,or you can simply eat it as a salad all by its little lonesome.
O.k...so I've convinced you that this is a pretty cool little salad green packed with vitamins, good taste,and with a pretty neat history...now... just what does it look like , and how to grow it?
Mache Corn Salad grows in a rosette shape cluster close to the ground...the plants have spoon shaped leaves that can grow up to 6 inches long, but the plant itself stays at a size of about 1 foot across.

When the plant does go to flower, it first sends up a stalk from the center of the plant that reaches about 1 foot tall, it then produces tiny blue flowers.
How to grow it:
Mache Corn Salad is a cool weather green, and does best when started in the early spring, or started before the first frost in fall.
This little plant actually can tolerate frost and freezing temperatures, but you will want to mulch with straw.

Sow the seeds directly into the garden(seeds can be found at: www.myvictorygarden.etsy.com). Planting seed no deeper than 1/4 inch.Seeds begin to emerge in about 10 to 20 days.
Full sun or part shade. Well drained soil. Do not let the soil dry out.
When the plants have developed a set of 4 leaves, plant them 4 inches apart, and space the rows at 1 ft. apart.

You can begin harvesting leaves from your Mache Corn Salad when the leaves are 1-2 inches long, or you can wait until the plant reaches maturity at 60 days, and harvest the entire plant for use in your salad.
Remember if growing this heirloom variety of greens to always set aside at least one plant as your "seed saving" specimen. Do not harvest from your "seed saving" plant, merely let it grow until it reaches maturity and starts to send up the flower stalk. Once the flower stalk starts to dry a little bit you can cut the flower stalk off with a pair of scissors and collect the seeds for next years harvest.
Happy Gardening!
~The Victory Gardener~


  1. I have some going to seed in my garden right now. When it did this last year the flowers were white.

    I haven't collected seeds from it yet. Thanks for the information!

    I love mache; I ate it in France all the time. I have trouble getting it to grow well here. I plant it in my fall garden and again in early spring. I always have great hopes for it as it is my favorite lettuce. I keep trying, though (I have been for the last 5 years).

    I will try to save some seeds fomr the two plants that are left.

  2. Thanks for some great ideas. I'm just now ordering my Heirloom seeds for the year...I've been very slow to start!

  3. Mine wintered over and I am still eating it. Although it is trying to bolt even though the temperatures are not too warm yet. Can you eat the flowers also?