Mesclun Greens – Grow and Eat Your Leafy Greens Part 2
Mesclun greens is the name used for a mix of leafy salad greens. Depending on the seed mix it may include anywhere from 5 to 12 different varieties of lettuces and other leafy plants such as mustard greens, arugula, endive, radicchio, frisee, and dandelion greens.
Colors range from green to red to purple (while they are not all officially green in color I’ve included them in this series about leafy greens for their wonderfulness). Many mixes tend towards bitter flavours but they also may include sweet or spicy or pungent varieties as well.
TINY BUNDLE OF NUTRIENTS
The awesome thing about mesclun greens is that they’re like a tiny assortment of nutritional goodness. While the specific nutritional content will vary depending on which greens are in your mix, most of these sweet babies are abundant in vitamin C, vitamin A, and also contain calcium and iron.
The array of different leaf colors provides a multitude of different phytonutrients. According to Dr. Joel Fuhrman, phytochemicals keep our immune systems healthy, enable our body’s detoxification mechanisms, and aid in cellular repair, ie. they keep us healthy and protect us from disease.
Phytochemicals are the substances that create the different colors in plants plus they contribute to human health.
“Green leaf varieties have the flavonoid called quercitin, but you’ll need red leaves to get any of the flavonoids called cyanidins. To get good supplies of kaempferol, you may want to include some endive. The different colors in the leaves may not seem significant, but each shading represents a different combination of flavonoids and other pigments…” (World’s Healthiest Foods website, http://www.whfoods.com/genpage.php?tname=george&dbid=68)
And these are just a few of the phyochemicals we actually KNOW about. There are still hundreds of these substances in plants that we have yet to discover and name. It’s the way these work in harmony that keep us healthy – that’s why eating the actual veggie is more beneficial than taking a vitamin supplement which only contains single isolated units. Nature provides us with a complete package. (For more on this see Dr. Fuhrman’s article on Nutrient Density: https://www.drfuhrman.com/library/article17.aspx)
Phytochemicals in their natural state are potent cancer inhibitors.
Dr. Joel Fuhrman, Eat to Live, p. 67
Phytochemicals and micronutrients keep our cells healthy and clean. “When our diet is low in phytochemicals and other micronutrients, we build up more intracellular waste products. When these substances build up in our bodies we are more susceptible to disease and ill health.” (Eat to Live, p. 151)
PLANTING & GROWING MESCLUN GREENS
Each vendor of mesclun greens will have a different combination of seeds in their packages. I bought two different blends. You could also make up your own blend – the sky’s the limit.
You can sow seeds in traditional rows or scatter them evenly over a garden bed or in a pot. These are easy to grow in a pot on your balcony if you don’t have a yard.
Seedlings and full grown plants need to be kept moist. Plants will wilt if soil is not kept consistently moist. They will tolerate hot weather but not dry soil.
Greens can be grown in full sun to part shade. You can sow seeds every two weeks in spring to early summer for a continuous harvest. Then sow again in late summer/early fall for a fall harvest in milder climates. Some mesclun greens will tolerate light frost.
You can harvest baby leaves from the outside of the plant daily or let each plant grow into a full size head if you’ve spaced them further apart.
EATING MESCLUN GREENS
Simplicity. Mesclun greens can be served up fresh in a salad with your favorite dressing.
Fresh. In a bowl.
That about sums its up.
Here is my latest favorite: Black Eyed Peas with Baby Mesclun Greens and Balsamic Dijon Dressing
Eat to Live, Dr. Joel Fuhrman, Little, Brown and Company, 2011