Mustard isn’t just a popular condiment. It’s also a nutritious green that can be eaten raw or cooked, and it’s easily grown in the vegetable or herb garden. The seeds are used in many Indian dishes, as well as Asian cuisine.
Mustard is a cool weather plant, and can be directly sown into the garden as early as four weeks before the last frost in the spring. Fall is also a good time to plant mustard for its greens before winter arrives. In Zone 8 through Zone 11 mustard does well during the fall and winter months, when it’s cooler. Once the weather heats up to around 80 degrees F. the plants tend to become tough and bitter. If seeds are desired, leave the plants and harvest the pods when they become brown. If you don’t want volunteer mustard seedlings popping up in your garden be sure to harvest before the pods open.
Before sowing mustard seeds, the soil should be cleared of rocks and dirt clumps, then worked and raked well to provide the best soil for germination. Cover the seeds very lightly, and mist until the ground is moist. Keep the location moistened until germination. After the plants are growing well, mulch can be applied to help keep in the moisture. Water at the bottom of the plant rather than overhead to help prevent disease, such as rust. It’s also important to keep the soil around the plants weed free during the growing season.
Mustard grows nicely with mint, rosemary, thyme, tansy, yarrow, dill, beets, carrots, celery, cucumber, lettuce, nasturtium, and onions. Don’t plant mustard near strawberries, sunflowers, or beans. Mustard benefits from fish emulsion or a seaweed fertilizer.
Harvesting can begin when the mustard leaves are about three inches in length. They taste best when young, and before the hot weather hits. If the greens do grow larger before harvest, use those for cooking. Below is a general guide to the mustard varieties.
Brassica hirta: the most commonly grown yellow mustard that is used for seeds.
Brassica nigra: black mustard, fairly spicy, but greens aren’t as tasty.
Brassica alba: white mustard that is fairly mild and used often in pickling.
Brassica juncea: a brown mustard, sometimes known as Oriental. This variety provides nice greens.
A very simple mustard can be made by combining dry mustard seeds with a small amount of vinegar in a blender and processing. Keep it refrigerated for up to 30 days.
Growing mustard is easy, weather it’s grown in the traditional garden or the herb garden. Grow a small crop for greens in the spring and fall, but allow a few plants to go to seed to try your hand at making homemade mustard.
Southern Giant Curled: B. juncea is an old Southern heirloom that is still a favorite because of it’s mild mustard flavor and large, pretty leaves, which are slow to go to seed. This variety is great for beginners to grow.
Cook’s Custom Mix: A mix of Mizuna, ‘Osaka Purple’, ‘ Florida Broad Leaf’ and ‘Red Giant Indian’ that allows the gardener to enjoy a nice variety.
Mizuna: Bright green, serrated leaves of an heirloom mustard that is wonderful in salad because of it’s mild, slightly peppery taste, but it’s also good in stir fries.
Tendergreen: Another heirloom that is considered one of the mildest mustards. Good as a spinach substitute or as a green in salads. Tendergreen is known to be heat and drought resistant.
Baby Mustard mix
an exclusive with Cooks Garden, this mixture includes ‘Segal’, ‘Lahav’ and ‘Green Sefiron’.