Mustard plants are grown both for their pungent seeds and the flavorful and nutrient-rich greens that top the plants. Mustard seed is often ground and mixed with vinegar, water, and other ingredients to produce the popular condiment of the same name. Mustard greens are a staple of Southern cooking in the United States.
Mustard is an annual with a rosette of large light to dark green crinkled leaves that grow up to 3 feet in length.
Common Names: Mustard
Scientific Name: Brassica juncea
Hardiness: Tender (may not survive first frost)
In the next section, you'll learn how to grow mustard.
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Mustard is a cool-season crop. It's hardy, but the seeds will not germinate well if you sow them too early; plant the seeds in your garden on the average date of last frost. Mustard is grown like lettuce. It is more heat tolerant than lettuce, but long hot summer days will force the plant to bolt (go to seed). Mustard tolerates partial shade. The plant needs well-worked soil that is high in organic matter and with good drainage and moisture retention.
Plant the seeds 1/2 inch deep. Plant a few seeds at intervals rather than as an entire row at one time. When the seedlings are large enough to handle, thin them to 6 to 12 inches apart. As soon as the plants begin to seed, pull them up or they will produce a great number of seeds and sow themselves all over the garden. Plant mustard again when the weather begins to cool off.
The leaves and leaf stalks are eaten. The seeds can be ground and used as a condiment. Pick off individual leaves as they grow, or cut the entire plant at ground level. Harvest when the leaves are young and tender; in summer, the texture may become tough and the flavor strong. Harvest the entire crop when some of the plants start to go to seed.
Types of Mustard
Southern Giant Curled, 40 days, has wide, curled leaves on an upright plant.
Fordhook Fancy, produces deeply curled, dark green leaves with some heat tolerance.
Red Giant, 40 days, has deep maroon leaves and exceptional taste--start to harvest at 20 days.