Mesclun Growing
Answered by: Inge Poot
Question from: Rory Edge
Posted on: March 28, 2000

I eat mesclun every couple of days and I want to try growing a constant supply for two people. For the moment, the plants will be grown in containers on window sills that have a southern exposure. I may use flourescent lights. After the last frost date (which here in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada is about May 6th), the containers will be placed outside. Does it matter whether I sow the seeds in a flat or sow them directly in the container in which they will grow? Either way, how closely can the plants in the container be grown (i.e. how much clear space does each plant need)? How often should I sow a new crop? Do your mesclun mixes regrow when the leaves have been harvested or should the plants be thrown away and a new set started?

Mesclun tastes best when the leaves are young and tender. To ensure that enough of the plant will be there to eat, usually the whole young plant is harvested. This means that after harvest the crop has to be resown. We recommend that under outdoor conditions you resow every ten days. Under the lower light conditions of an indoor set-up it may take a few extra days to get the plants large enough to make it worthwhile to harvest them. To get rapid growth with no set-back I would suggest that you plant the seeds in the pot in which they will grow. If you are patient and don’t mind the few days the plants will sulk to repair the transplanting root damage you could start them in a flat and then transplant after the first true leaves have appeared. Handle the baby plants only by their leaves to avoid damage to essential food and water conducting vessels in the stems. Space seeds about one to two centimeters apart in the row and have rows about 5 to 10 centimeters apart. The closer spacing would be more suitable for indoor growing. For indoor growing, once the seeds have sprouted, place the seeding container quite close to the lights to get sturdy growth. A rich soil and constant supply of moisture combined with good drainage will ensure succulent leaves.

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