What it needs
• Cool air. Mâche seed germinates best when temperatures are 55° to 68°, making it suitable for planting in the early spring or in the fall.
• Sun or light shade. Desert gardeners can plant in a lightly shaded spot that doesn't get afternoon sun.
• Moist soil. Keep soil moist until seeds germinate in 14 to 28 days; water regularly thereafter. Mulch the soil around plants.
• Modest space. V. locusta grows into small rosettes about 1 inch across. When seedlings are large enough to handle, thin to about 3 inches apart.
• Snail protection. The succulent leaves attract snails and slugs. Protect plants by putting out bait or growing them in raised beds encircled with copper bands. In desert areas, spread gravel mulch over the planting bed first, then sow right over it; seeds will fall through the cracks and plants will pop up through the stones.
Sources: John Scheepers Kitchen Garden Seeds www.kitchengardenseeds.com or 860/567-6086; Nichols Garden Nursery www.nicholsgardennursery.com or 800/422-3985; Renee's Garden www.reneesgarden.com; Territorial Seed Co. www.territorialseed.com or 800/626-0866