We all love Mesclun here at Kings Seeds. These diverse leafy greens provide a fabulous source of nutrition from your garden most of the year round, including during winter when a salad makes a nice change from all the winter veges. It is also a lot cheaper to grow your own and with successive plantings every couple of weeks, you can experience the pleasure of waltzing past those expensive packets on the shelf in the supermarket.
ORIGINSMesclun originated in Provence, France and is a salad of small, young mixed leaves. The traditional mix is chervil, arugula, endive and a mix of lettuces in equal quantities, but this has evolved to include many varieties of leafy greens including leaf vegetables.
PLANTINGMesclun seed should be sown directly. Prepare your garden patch with minimal effort - a bit of compost may be required but is not necessary. I find it is a good way to use up seed raising mix that is getting a bit stale, to give the seed a wee boost in the really cold months. Sprinkle your seed by hand and create several patches for variety. Cover the seed lightly by raking or sieving soil over the seed, then a light watering and you should see some growth in 3-14 days. Growth is slower in the colder weather, but your mesclun patch can cope with frosts and finding a shady spot in your garden or putting up some shade cloth provides optimal conditions after spring.
HARVESTINGYou should be able to harvest within 3-4 weeks when the leaf is a small seedling and the flavour can be more intense at this young stage. With all the different varieties, experimenting is recommended to find what suits your family best. Harvest by holding the leaves and cutting with a pair of standard scissors. It is best to cut the leaves as you need them to maintain freshness and nutritional value. Mesclun is cut and come again if you don't cut too close to the soil.
WINTER GREENSThe most successful Mesclun to grow at this time of year is our Winter Greens which includes arugula, miners lettuce and minutina. This mix provides a lovely crunchy combo with a bit of spice from the arugula, freshness and crunchiness from the miners lettuce and minutina (all three of these are listed in our catalogue as separate varieties, the minutina as plantago) without being fibrous.
KINGS SEEDS VARIETIESOther varieties that have been created by Kings and mixed on site are:
Organic - a range of organically certified greens including corn salad, cress, red beet, red cabbage, broccoli, rocket, spinach and 3 types of lettuce.
Original - introduced by founder Ross King in 1985 and still very popular. A bit of everything including endive, corn salad, rocket, chicory, lettuces, spinach, pak choi, beets & mustard.
Italian - a Mediterranean experience including rocket, chicory, broccoli raab, cress, kale, corn salad, endive, Italian lettuces, chervil and Italian parsley.
Kale Blend - cool season greens which can be served as salad or steamed including Pink Stem, Cavolo Nero, Vates Blue Squire, Red Monarch and Red Russian.
Lettuce mix - provides a mini lettuce patch with no less than 12 varieties of red and green lettuces from our range.
Mild - nothing spicy in here and the stronger flavoured leafy greens have been left out too. Includes mizuna, tatsoi, corn salad, chard, red orach, kale squire, cress, lettuce, spinach, red kale and chervil.
Oriental - use in salads or leave to grow larger for use in stir-fry. Includes komatsuna, mustard, kale, mizuna, mibuna, tat-soi, pak choi, red cabbage and broccoli.
Simply Red - with red stems, red veins, red leaves or a combo of all three, this is perfect for adding colour to your salad especially when the colour is more intense in the cooler months. Includes beets, mustard, lettuce, komatsuna, purple pak choi, amaranth, purple kohlrabi, kale and chicory.
SERVINGAs mentioned above, mesclun is great added to salads for variety or it can be eaten on its own. It only needs a light dressing like vinaigrette just before serving and you can always add other delicacies like nuts or Parmesan for a taste sensation.
STAFF FAVOURITESI did a quick survey to see what the team like to grow and they all grow several of these varieties. On limiting them to their favourite, these were the results:
Gerard, Barbara and Carolyn - Simply Red
Myself, Jude and Deb - Lettuce Mix
Jen - Winter mix
Camilla and Liz - Original
So as you can see, there is something for everyone. What's your favourite? If you don't know, why don't you try growing some different varieties and get back to us with the results.
Mike White says ...
Well I have gone and done it ! I now have four big pots of the Winter mix which have grown pretty well to 120mm tall but when to dare to taste will I like it ?. will it regow if harvested carefully ?
The Miners lettuce is pretty dominant and the rocket is a poor third. I can make up for that with some material from some straight rocket pots that are appreciated by a small but discerning clientelle.