Mustard greens are a very easy to grow and quick to mature vegetable green that can be used in salads when the leaves are young and tender or cooked as they mature. It is this same plant that when left to go to seed produces the condiment mustard.
There are several varieties available for the home garden with the main difference between them being the color of their frilly leaves which can vary from light to deep green and red. Raw mustard greens have a peppery tang similar to radish roots.
Mustard greens are a cool season vegetable and can be sown as soon as 2 - 4 weeks before the last frost in the spring. Sowing again in mid-summer for fall-winter harvest. Fall plantings usually taste better because they are maturing under cooler conditions
They like a sunny position but will welcomes shade as the season progresses. A minimum of 3-4 hours of direct sunlight daily. Mustard green are not heat tolerant and will bolt to seed as soon as the weather become to hot for them.
Well drained soil with high amounts of organic matter grows excellent mustard greens
Soil temperatures and air temperatures differ greatest in the early spring. While air temperature might be in the range for planting or sowing seed it will take consistently warm temperature during the day and night for the soil temperature to follow suit.
The most important aspects of caring for mustard greens are;
Usual practice is to direct sow to the garden. Sowing thickly 1/2 inch deep and thin seedlings to 3 to 5 inches apart. Thinnings can be eaten.
Fast growing greens need consistent moisture especially if sowing in mid to late summer for fall- winter harvest. As always mulching helps to ensure minimum moisture loss from wind and sun as well as being your number one defense against weeds .
2 weeks before sowing apply 2-3 quarts per 100 sq feet (2.2-3.3 liters per 9.3 square meters) of All-Purpose 5-5-5 Organic Fertilizer.
Crop rotation is important with all members of the Brassicaceae family mainly to help reduce common pests infestations. It is recommended at least 2-4 years between planting any member of this family in the same garden bed.
There are 3 species of cabbage worm that commonly attack the leaves and heads of cabbage and related Cole crops. They are imported cabbage worms, cabbage loopers and diamond back moth worms, and are the main problem in many areas causing enormous damage to crops.
Black Rot, Club Root, Damping Off, Downy Mildew, Leaf Spot
Mustard greens can be eaten raw or cooked best harvested when they are young and tender. The whole plant can be cut at once or individual outer leaves can be picked for a continuous harvest.
The young leaves, four to five inches long , are mild-flavored and can be eaten raw in salads.
The older leaves are better when prepared as cooked greens.
Do not use wilted or yellowed leaves, over mature mustard greens with seeds or yellow flowers attached.
Store unwashed greens in plastic bags in the refrigerator crisper drawer, they will keep perfectly fine for about three to seven days.
Freezing is the best way to preserve mustard greens. Like other vegetables, mustard greens must be blanched before freezing.