Mustard is an ancient plant that’s full of appeal for contemporary gardeners. The plants are easy to grow and produce seed in as few as 60 days. The greens are edible, the flowers attractive, and if the seeds are allowed to mature on the plant, they will self-sow and still provide plenty for mustard making. Many people do not realize that a mustard seed plant is the same plant as a mustard greens plant (Brassica juncea). This versatile plant can be grown as a vegetable and eaten like other greens or, if allowed to flower and go to seed, mustard seeds can be harvested and used as a spice in cooking or ground into a popular condiment.
HOW TO GROW MUSTARD
Growing mustard plants is easy. The plants grow well in most good garden soils.
Mustard plants prefer full sun and cool weather. Grow crops spring and fall. The plants will bolt in hot weather.
Planting successive small crops, separated about a week apart, results in a continuous supply of greens.
Mustard plants should be grown quickly. Use plenty of water, and ample amounts of fertilizer, to promote fast growth of tender, green leaves. Water plants during dry periods.
Keep the plants well weeded, so weeds rob the plants of water and nutrients. It makes harvesting easier, too.
Mustard greens are eaten raw, or cooked. Harvest leaves while young and tender. Pick individual leave, or the entire plant. Leaves get tough and have a strong flavor during hot, dry weather.
Mustard seeds should be harvested when the plants begin to yellow. You want to leave them on the plants as long as possible, but before the pods burst open and spill their seeds.