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MESCLUN

Martha Stewart Living Television

Often referred to as a salad mix, mesclun is a blend of greens harvested when young for full flavor, firmness, and crunch.

The individual greens that make up some of the mixes, such as chicory, chervil, and lettuces, have been grown in American gardens since the seventeenth century; the idea of combining them in salads originated in southern France.

For the best flavor, try growing mesclun at home. Seeds are blended to suit many tastes, such as a savory Provencal mix of chervil, arugula, lettuce, and endive. Or try a Piedmont blend with a base of four lettuces and five chicories.

The Cook's Garden, a seed company in Londonderry, Vermont, sells seven distinct mesclun blends. Varieties labeled "cut and come again" will do just that; when cut young and properly watered, the greens will grow again for another harvest.

How To Grow Mesclun
1. In the spring, select an area of soil with steady sun exposure and good drainage, and enrich it with well-rotted compost or manure. You can also add a slow-release fertilizer when preparing the soil. The greens you sow may be small, but their fast rate of growth and succulent foliage require a rich, moisture-retentive soil.

2. Till the soil thoroughly, and finish the grading and leveling with a bow rake for a smooth, continuous surface.

3. Pour seed from the packet into a dish or clay saucer, and broadcast across the plot designated for your crop.

4. Lightly cover with soil, and tamp the surface with the back of a hoe or garden rake to keep the tiny seeds in place until they put down roots.

5. Label accordingly, gently water with a watering-can sprayer attached to your hose, and wait a few weeks for the first harvest from your mesclun patch.