How to Grow Series
Mesclun (Salad Greens)
Mesclun is a term for salad greens that are usually sold in seed packets of mixed varieties including arugula, endive, chervil, radicchio, mustard greens, or other lettuce greens. They are generally loose-leaf varieties, which means you can harvest the outer leaves and they will keep growing so that you can continue to harvest several times without having to sow new seeds every time. Salad greens can be grown in most parts of the U.S. and can be harvested almost year round with careful planning. They grow best in the cooler seasons of Spring and Autumn, in full sun to part shade.
Salad greens require soil that is full of compost and organic matter. Lettuce seeds germinate at 70 degrees but grow best at 60 degrees, so you may have to help create these conditions in your garden. Luckily, lettuce greens grow just as well in containers, so you can tuck a little patch of lettuce greens almost anywhere.
- To sow your seeds simply sprinkle the seeds on top of loose soil.
- Sprinkle a little sifted compost on top of the seeds, being careful not to cover them too much.
- Carefully water the seeds using a fine mist so as not to spread the seeds or bury them too much in the soil
- Mist the soil a couple of times a day, if needed, until the seeds sprout. Then resume a more normal schedule; water when the top inch of soil is dry.
- If birds are a problem with your emerging crop of greens, you can cover them with netting.
- Slugs love baby greens, so hand pick slugs off the greens in early morning and evening and surround the planting with slug bait containing iron phosphate (which is safe to use around pets and children).
- Planting inside a cold frame can extend the season in the spring and fall.
- Mesclun is ready to harvest in 35-45 days depending on the variety.
- Harvest mesclun by snipping off the outer leaves of each clump leaving about an inch left so that it can continue to grow. You can harvest every 2-3 weeks.
- Only harvest as much as you will eat that day as quality tends to decline quickly with tender greens like these.
- After harvesting fertilize with fish emulsion, following the package directions for diluting instructions.
- The same crop can be harvested three times before being pulled up and discarded in the compost pile.
- Tuck shallow containers of mesclun in shady corners of the garden for a continued harvest even in the summer.
- Sow seeds 2-3 weeks apart in small batches based on your usage to have mesclun most of the year.
- If you have trouble growing mesclun in one part of your garden, try it in another spot. If your soil is too wet or full of clay, grow it in a container instead.