i’ve written about mache before, and i’m a big fan of it. i’ve not often seen it for sale here – even in the farmers market, though in europe i’ve seen it at all the farmers markets. it grows really well in cold weather and it is the earliest crops i plant. i’m not really sure why it’s not more popular, it grow like a weed (which it is) and tastes great in a salad.
this past sunday we had a little bit of a warm streak, and it seemed like the perfect weather for sowing some early mache in our cold frame. ma and i both had a great time getting a little dirty. thanks to ma for taking photos and having a good time with me.
this cold frame has never really worked well for us – it was just too small, but it’s something i can play with until we build a new one. one nice thing about this cold frame is that it’s small enough that we can just pick it up and move it, prep the soil under it, and drop it back down on top.
first step was to take the cold frame up and loosen the soil using a spading fork and remove the roots from old lettuce plants.
next step is to break up the clods with the claw tool.
next step is to rake the bed nice and smooth. this is much more important when you are using a seeder such as the 6 row seeder that we use at work, than just doing by hand, but it is nice to have it smooth so water is constant.
without a hand seeder, i usually just make a very hard crease on the seed packet to make the seeds have to line up single file. also i don’t know if you can tell in this photo but rather than tap the packet i actually tap the back of my thumb with my other hand. that’s why my other hand is blurry. when it’s cold like this i tend to seed a little heavy to take into account low germination. this is small seed, so i seed them in a very shallow furrow.
i use the back of the claw tool to tamp the soil down. you want it pretty firm so that you have good soil contact with seeds. but you don’t want them to be too deep.
watering this time of year can be kind of tricky, if it’s gonna be really cold it means that the seeds could freeze if it gets cold, but i decided that they needed moisture and so i went ahead and watered them. watering does of course help the seeds break dormancy, but it also helps pack the soil around the seeds.
then we put the cold frame back on, made sure that there were no gaps between the cold frame and the soil and added the row cover and closed the cold frame and called it good. i checked on it a week later and no sprouting yet. but soon.