WHAT IS MACHE?

WHAT IS MACHE?

What is Mache?  Mache is a green, leafy vegetable that grows into a rosette about 2 1/2″ to 3″ in height and prefers to germinate in cool weather. It has an almost nutty flavor and a pleasing texture; something like baby spinach.

My dear friend, Vicki Dyer, traveled to France four years ago.  When she returned, she insisted that I grow Mache.  Normally, I don’t respond well when people tell me that I have to do something. However, Vicki is a very good cook and loves good food. I followed her advice and will forever be thankful that she introduced me to this wonderful green.

MACHE IS A WINTER CROP

After a little research, I discovered that my favorite seed company, Johnny’s Selected Seeds, sold Mache seeds. More research led me to Eliot Coleman, author of “Four Season Harvest” where I learned that Mache is a winter crop, grown for centuries in France.  I also learned about low plastic tunnels.  I liked the idea of extending the growing season with the tunnels and the fact that you could plant seeds in October and harvest in February or March when there weren’t many other options for something fresh from the garden. So, I have been growing Mache and using low tunnels ever since.

MACHE  IN MARCH

MACHE IN MARCH (MACHE MADNESS)

MACHE IS EASY TO GROW

 

Mache is relatively easy to grow.  I broadcast seeds over a two foot by four foot patch in late October here in zone 6a.  I cover the seeds with 1/2″ of composte, water regularly until mid-December and let it grow slowly all winter protected by a low plastic tunnel.  I have harvested as early as February 26.  However, we have had two really nasty winter in a row and my first harvest date has been pushed back to late March.I love to eat it fresh with a light vinaigrette dressing all by itself.  I am also fond of serving it with a poached egg on top and letting the yoke cascade into the Mache.  It also works well with other  raw vegetables such as carrot slivers, radishes, and fresh herbs.  If you are having company, serve it with high quality shaved Parmesan cheese and toasted walnuts.  Your guests will love it.

The following drawing was borrowed from Wikipedia:

 

MACHE

All the best,
Greg

GARDEN JOURNAL – 4th Week of March

GARDEN JOURNAL – 4th Week of March

FIRST MACHE OF THE SEASON

IMAG0073[1]

Overwintered Mache under plastic in the garden

A couple of days ago, I harvested the first Mache of the season.  Seeds were planted last October in one of my low plastic tunnels.  The plants grew slowly over the winter; much of it in the dark because the tunnel was completely covered in snow.  Two weeks ago, on a rare sunny and mild day, I removed the snow on the south side of the tunnel so that the sun could warm up the soil.  This week, conditions were right for harvesting.   I love the texture and taste of Mache and especially love the fact that I have something green to eat from my own garden at this time of year.

PROGRESS REPORT

Leaf crop seedlings almost ready for the garden

Leaf crop seedlings almost ready for the garden

LEEK SEEDLINGS  LOOKING  GOOD UNDER THE LIGHTS

LEEK SEEDLINGS LOOKING GOOD UNDER THE LIGHTS

 

WORDS OF WISDOM:
“Nature speaks freely to the individual, but seldom harangues a crowd”
Charles C. Abbott – Naturalist (from “Days out of Doors”)

 

All the best,

Greg

GARDEN JOURNAL – 3rd Week of March

GARDEN JOURNAL – 3rd Week of March

STARTING PEPPERS AND EGGPLANTS
Starting the first hot weather crops of the season always gives my mood
a much needed boost.  This week, I started all of my sweet pepper,
hot pepper and eggplant seeds.  As I’ve done for the last fifteen years,
I started my seeds in a twenty row seeder, 10 seeds per row.  One
modification that I have made is to cut off the last six rows so that
I can fit in a couple of 4 packs of eggplant seeds.  “Pray tell, Gregoire,
why do you do that”?  Good question.  Peppers and eggplants are
both started on a heat mat to stimulate germination.  However, the
eggplant seedlings need to be removed from the heat just as they are
poaking out of the soil or they will quickly get too leggy.

IMPORTANT TIP:  Start eggplant seeds on a heat mat but remove as soon as they emerge.

STARTING CALENDULA SEEDS
Early in my gardening life I acquired a small booklet entitled “The Best Gardening Ideas I Know” by Robert Rodale. I learned a lot from this tiny publication, especially about companion planting to deter insects. Over the years, I have tried quite a few of the suggestions. Some work better than others. My favorite is planting calendula in the asparagus patch to deter asparagus beetles. THIS WORKS BIG TIME! It’s amazing.
I will see a new crop of asparagus beetles emerge from the ground. Before the day is out they disappear. I highly recommend this natural repellent. Seeds were started now so that I will have plants ready to flower in late April when the first asparagus emerges.

STARTING NASTURTIUMS
Another great tip I got from “The Best Gardening Ideas I Know” is companion planting nasturtiums with my zucchini to ward of squash beetles. My experience has been that this works well if the nasturtiums are flowering. In order to be ready for the season, I have started some “Kaleidoscope Mix” seeds in 2″ soil blocks. I want them to be in
flower by the time my zucchini plants are ready to be transplanted. I’m using the soil blocks because nasturtiums really don’t like being transplanted. Soil blocks change this dynamic for the better.

GLACIER TOMATOES TRANSPLANTED
The Glacier Ultra Early Tomatoes that I started the first week of March have been transplanted and are doing well. My goal is to eat my first ripe tomato on or before June 8. My main crop tomatoes will be started in the first week of April.

My Glacier tomato seedlings

My Glacier tomato seedlings

WORDS OF WISDOM
“The invariable mark of wisdom is to see the miraculous in the common . . . To the wise, therefore, a fact is true poetry, and the most beautiful of fables.”
Ralph Waldo Emerson

Even though there is still over a foot of snow on the ground I am lifted by the feeling that planting season is close at hand. I would love some feedback about this blog.
Please leave your comments.
All the best,
Greg