Harvest by the cut and come again method and they'll re-grow handily for several
cuttings. To do this, simply take a sharp scissors and shear off a patch of
leaves in the amount you need to fill your salad bowl. Cut the leaves off at 1
to 2 inches above the soil level. Within a day or two of cutting, water the bed
well and feed lightly with fish emulsion solution and the cut crowns of the
lettuce will re-grow for another harvest or two. Cut the rest of your lettuce as
needed, but before it gets too large. This way the bed will constantly be
re-growing in different stages.
Take your basket of just-picked
young lettuces inside right away and very gently wash and dry them and chill in
a plastic vegetable bag in the refrigerator. Enjoy soon as these little leaves
dont have the keeping quality of mature heads. The baby leaves are wonderfully
delicate and succulent. Plan on dressing them with a light and simple
vinaigrette that doesnt overwhelm their sweet flavors and juicy textures. Add a
sprinkle of fresh chopped salad herbs to toss with the pretty leaves just before
you sit down at the table.
Mesclun lettuces are a cool season crop. Grow in spring through early summer and
start another crop in early fall. Seeds just wont germinate well when the
temperature of the soil and air regularly go above 80 degrees. Keep the soil in
your bed or containers evenly moist as that will produce the sweetest, most
succulent leaves from plants that grow quickly and without interruption. If you
want to extend the salad season into hot weather, erect a canopy of shade cloth
over the lettuce bed to moderate hot conditions. It is also helpful to chill the
seeds in the refrigerator overnight and plant at night so you have the coolest
hours for seed to begin to sprout. Plan to harvest baby lettuces in the cool of
the morning or in the evening after the heat of the day. Growing staggered crops
is a good way to have a constant supply of ready to eat salad.
Enjoying the harvest
Don't overwhelm these carefully nurtured leaves with store bought dressings!
Even those so called "gourmet brands" tend to be over- seasoned and too heavy in
taste to really complement your gardens bounty.
Classic Mesclun Dressing:
If you are in a hurry, here is my fast and delicious simple
vinaigrette recipe that never fails to satisfy:
Combine in a glass jar with a lid 1 1/2 to 2 tablespoons best quality balsamic
vinegar and 5 tablespoons best quality fruity olive oil. Add 1/2 teaspoon
prepared Dijon mustard, a pinch of salt and 6 or 7 generous grinds of fresh
black pepper. Put on the jar lid and shake well. The mustard will serve to
emulsify the vinegar and oil. Shake again and pour sparingly over the salad at
the table and toss. If you want to dress it up a bit, sprinkle over some toasted
pine nuts and chopped fresh chives and parsley. (Keep unused, left-over dressing
in a cool place to use up in a week or so. Dont stint on the quality of the oil
and vinegar - buy the very best you can afford!)
Here is another salad recipe that shows off your Mesclun.
Mesclun Salad With Walnuts & Grapes
The sweet flavors and mouth-filling textures of freshly harvested Mesclun
lettuces tossed with juicy grapes and toasted nuts make a memorable salad
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
2 teaspoons grated orange zest
3 tablespoons orange juice
1 tablespoon chopped fresh tarragon
6 tablespoons olive oil
Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
1 quart mixed mesclun lettuces, washed and dried
1 cup red Flame or other seedless red grapes
1/3 cup chopped toasted walnuts
In a small bowl, combine vinegar, orange zest, juice and tarragon. Add oil
gradually, whisking until thoroughly combined. Place Mesclun in a salad bowl and
toss with dressing.
Sprinkle grapes and nuts over salad just before serving.
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© 2013 Renee's Garden
Hill Rd. Felton, CA 95018