Growing corn salad (mache) in home garden is less popular, because it is a less known leafy vegetable. It grows wild in many parts of Europe, northern Africa and western Asia, and it is considered as weeds in some areas. Especially in Europe and Asia it is a common weed in cultivated land and waste spaces.
Corn salad (Valerianella locusta) is actually a small annual plant which has a characteristic nutty flavor, dark green color and soft texture. It is also known by many other different names in many different parts of the world. Other names of the corn salad include mache, doucette, raiponce, rapunzel, field salad, nut lettuce, feldsalat, common cornsalad, fetticus, lamb’s lettuce etc.
The corn salad is rich in nutrients just like other formerly foraged greens. It has three times as much vitamin C as lettuce, beta-carotene, B6, potassium and iron. The leaves are small, but succulent and tasty. It is very nice on it’s own or mixed in with other salad greens.
You can enjoy this great vegetable if you start growing corn salad in your home garden. The plants grow faster and become ready for harvesting within 40-60 days from planting.
How to Grow Corn Salad
Growing corn salad in home garden is very easy. It grows very fast in the wild and considered as weeds in many areas. However, here we are describing more information about growing corn salad in home garden from planting, caring to harvesting.
First of all, collect seeds either from market or from any of your friends. You can also collect the seeds from the wild plants if you notice the plants anywhere within your area.
Best Time for Growing Corn Salad
The corn salad plants are very hardy, and they are actually grown as a winter green. For growing corn salad in home garden, you can actually sow the seeds in early spring for fall and winter harvests. Ideal temperature for growing corn salad is between 5 and 18° C.
Selecting & Preparing Soil
Select a good place for growing corn salad. It can actually be grown either in full sun or in partial shade. Full sun will help to warm the soil and get the plants up and growing, especially during spring. And the plants will appreciate partial shade as the days get warmer, especially in the afternoon.
After selecting the site in your garden, you have to prepare the soil. Till the soil and add organic materials into it before sowing seeds. The corn salad plants actually grow in almost anywhere, but will grow better if the soil is rich in organic materials.
Corn salad plants are grown from seeds. You can either grow the plants by sowing seeds directly into the soil or in rows. If you sow the seeds directly into the soil, then do this from early spring onwards. If you sow in rows, then the rows should be about 10-12 inches apart.
After marking several rows in the prepared bed, sow seeds at the rate of 3 seeds per inch and less than 1/4 inch deep. You have to thin the seedlings to about 2 inches apart. The corn salad seeds generally sprout best in cool and moist soil, and generally germinate in 7-21 days.
Taking additional care after sowing the seeds will ensure better growth of the plants. Although corn salad plants don’t require much care and maintenance. They grow vigorously in almost any soil, like many weeds. The plants will just grow well if they are well watered and are kept weed free.
You can harvest corn salad like a cut-and-come again lettuce. Harvest the outer leaves first when they are about 3 inches long. Delicately bunch small groups of leaves together and cut with a sharp knife 1-2 inches above the soil, so the plants can grow back. You can also sow the seeds very densely and gradually thin the plants throughout winter, cutting them at the soil line.
The corn salad is generally eaten fresh (with a very light dressing), and it is described as having a nutty flavor. You can also warm and wilt the leaves, as a salad or side dish.
These are the common ways for growing corn salad in home garden. Hope you have learned a lot and also enjoyed the guide! Happy gardening 🙂