OP Native to Europe, northern Africa and western Asia, this once wild harvested plant should be grown by every gardener who loves fresh salad greens year-round. Also known by names mâché, lamb’s lettuce and field lettuce, the term corn it is common name denotes it growing as a weed in fields where cereals (corn meaning cereal not maize) are grown. Knowing this it is easy to imagine how it gained popularity as it would have been harvested by peasants while tending their grain crops. Apparently, we owe royalty for bringing it into kitchen garden cultivation as King Louis XIV was the first to cultivate the seeds. It has now naturalised on both the east and west coasts of the US after being brought over by pilgrims. Vit, a French variety, that is mildew resistant and does well in cool season growing conditions, is a quick to grow hardy annual. Why not let this little beauty naturalise in your garden as it readily self-seeds once established? A small rosette of leaves form and can be picked from young when as little as 4 leaves appear on the plant. It will produce greens through winter in most of New Zealand. Higher in vitamin C, beta-carotene, B6, iron, and potassium than lettuce. Best to eat before it flowers and goes to seed. The summer heat will cause it to bolt, best sown in early spring and early autumn.
Scatter sow seeds in a tray in early spring and autumn. Prick out to 4 cm diagonal spacing when true leaves appear. Transplant to a fertile garden bed at 25-30 cm diagonal spacing. Or broadcast seed direct into garden bed, lightly rake in. Cover with shade cloth and water regularly. Remove the shade cloth once the seeds germinate. Thin as required. They prefer to be direct sown, but we have had success transplanting.