I have always heard the saying, faith of a mustard seed. Before gardening, it was hard for me to put that into perspective. But, have you ever seen how small a mustard seed is? It is pretty impressive what power is in a seed. Plant this little seed, and within 60 days, you could be harvesting.
Mustards are fast-growing greens from the brassica family that are grown for their leaves. Their leaves are one of the healthiest and most nutrient-dense of the leafy greens produced. Most people associate mustard greens with southern culture, but don’t be fooled; these nutrient powerhouses can be grown anywhere. Many African and Asian dishes call for mustard greens.
You can choose from many different varieties. Here are a few of my favorites:
· Red Giant
· Florida broadleaf
Mustard greens like other brassicas prefer moist, fertile soil. They love the sun, but like other leafy greens, since they do not produce and fruits, they are capable of doing well in the shade.
If growing in the fall, set out transplants 4-6 weeks before the first frost date. If you are planning on growing in the spring, plant transplants around four weeks before the last frost date, do not think that you have to start from transplants. Mustards are a very forgiving crop that can be grown directly from seed. Actually, direct seeding is my preferred method when it comes to mustards. Mustards grow wide, so be sure to leave 12-18” between plants.
Mustards are not as cold tolerant as kale and collards. That does not mean that they can't handle a freeze. Mustard greens are cold tolerant down to the 20s. Down in Houston, it is not strange to have mustards growing in every season except for summer. There’s not much that can grow in our Houston summers besides okra.
Keep the soil moist but never waterlogged. Mulch will help reduce the weeds, regulate soil temperature, and reduce the amount of water needed because it will help keep the ground moist. Improper watering and stressful conditions can cause the flavor of the leaves to become unpleasant or extra spicy.
When it comes to harvesting the greens, there are three ways I recommend:
1. Let the leaves fully mature and harvest the outer leaves. Make sure to leave the center to continue growing and producing more leaves.
2. Harvest leaves when they are young, immature in the “baby” stage. These younger leaves will have a milder flavor, perfect for a salad mix.
3. Treat it as a cut and come crop again. Cut all leaves and leaves, leaving a stub. The stub will regrow.
How do you harvest your mustards?
Avoid planting near sunflowers and beans.
Now what I want you to do is stop reading, go outside, get your hands in the dirt and JUST GROW IT!