Mustard greens are one of the easiest leafy vegetable crops to grow in your garden. This delicious vegetable needs little care and has become a gardening favorite. Growing and eating mustard greens is very popular in the Southern part of the US. Mustard greens are a cool weather crop that can be harvested in as little as 45 days.
Try to choose a location where the plants can grow in both full and partial sunlight like under the branches of a tree or in a corner of the garden. Mustard greens tend to wilt if exposed to too much sun during the warmer days of summer so it is important to keep plants well watered.
Prepare your garden for planting by adding a three inch layer of compost or dried manure to your plot. Till the soil to a depth of about eight inches. The compost or fertilizer will provide will provide nutrients for the growing plants. Your crop is best grown in beds four feet wide. More than one bed can be set up with two feet of space between each.
The tiny seeds of mustard greens should be broadcast by hand over your growing plot. They can then be covered with a half-inch layer of soil. Seeds sprout in seven to ten days. Water the plants regularly, keeping the soil moist but not wet. The mustard plants grow quickly and can be harvested in about six weeks.
Plant mustard greens in early spring after the danger of frost has passed. Successive crops can be planted every three weeks to allow for a continuous crop during summer. They can again be planted in early fall before the first killing frost. There is no real need to thin the plants as you can start to harvest leaves as soon as they are large enough to use.
There are several varieties of mustard greens including smooth and curled leaf. Mustard greens also come in green, purple and red leaf varieties. The more colorful varieties are often grown as an ornamental to add color to a yard or garden.
Mustard often bolts–goes to seed– during the hottest part of summer. To prevent bolting, use row covers to protect the plants from the more intense rays of sunlight. If you choose to allow your crop to go to seed, the seeds can be ground then strained and made into homemade mustard for use as a condiment.
Young mustard greens can be harvested when they are three to five inches long and three to five inches wide. To harvest, simply clip off the leaves with scissors. Wash the leaves thoroughly before using. Leaves can be blanched for three minutes in hot water then dipped into ice water to cool. They can then be stored in plastic containers or freezer bags the freezer.
Fresh mustard greens can be cooked with fried bacon, ham or ham hocks. Cook the meat thoroughly and add the mustard green during the last thirty minutes of cooking. Cook until tender. Fresh un-cooked mustard greens can be chopped and added to salads. The delicious leaves can also be added to soups, stews and stir fry.
Mustard greens are low in calories and high in dietary fiber. They are high in Vitamins A, C, E and K. Mustard greens also contain considerable amounts of potassium, phosphorus and magnesium.
Mustard greens are easy to grow and have become a gardening favorite. This delicious and nutritious vegetable crop can be grown for most of the spring, summer and fall. With a little care you can enjoy this crop for most of the year.