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How to Plant, Grow, and Harvest Mustard Greens

Mustard leaves1
Mustard leaves grow in the garden
Mustard leaves have a peppery flavor

Mustard greens are a cool-season leaf crop. Mustard is a hardy leaf vegetable with a rosette of large light or dark green curly leaves that grow to 3 feet (.9m) tall. Leaves and leaf stalks are eaten and have a peppery flavor. The seeds can be ground and used as a condiment.

Here is your complete guide to growing mustard greens!

Mustard Greens Quick Growing Tips

  • Sow mustard greens as early as 4 to 6 weeks before the average last frost date in spring.
  • Sow succession crops every 4 to 6 weeks.
  • Mustard greens require 30 to 40 days to reach harvest.
  • Plant crops so that they come to harvest before temperatures average greater than 75°F (24°C).
  • Sow mustard greens in autumn or early winter in mild winter regions.
  • Mustard greens yield: Plant 6 to 10 mustard plants per household member.
Mustard seedlings
Mustard seedlings

Where to Mustard Greens

  • Grow mustard greens in full sun or partial shade.
  • Plant mustard in well-worked, well-drained soil rich in organic matter.
  • Add aged compost to planting beds before planting.
  • Mustard prefers a soil pH of 5.5 to 6.8.

Mustard Greens Planting Time

  • Sow mustard as early as 4 to 6 weeks before the average last frost date in spring.
  • Sow succession crops every 4 to 6 weeks.
  • Mustard requires 30 to 40 days to reach harvest.
  • Plant mustard greens so that they come to harvest before temperatures average greater than 75°F (24°C).
  • Sow mustard in autumn or early winter in mild winter regions.
  • Seeds may be slow to germinate if the soil is too coo, 40°F (4.4°C) or less.
  • Mustard grown in hot weather or long days will bolt and go to seed.

Planting and Spacing Mustard Greens

  • Sow mustard seed ½ inch (12mm) deep.
  • When seedlings are large enough to handle thin them from 4 to 8 inches (10-20cm) apart.
  • Space rows 12 to 24 inches a(30-61cm) part.

Mustard Greens Companion Plants

  • Plant mustard greens with other leafy greens, English peas and snap peas.

Container Growing Mustard Greens

  • Mustard can easily be grown in a container.
  • Broadcast seeds over the soil surface and cover lightly with soil. Thinnings can be eaten.
Mustard plants growing
Do not let the soil dry out during the growing season.

Watering and Feeding Mustard Greens

  • Keep soil evenly moist to keep mustard leaves growing quickly. Do not allow the soil to dry out.
  • Add aged compost to planting beds before sowing.
  • Side dress mustard plants with aged compost at midseason.

Mustard Greens Care

  • Keep planting beds weed-free.
  • Pull mustard from the garden as soon as it goes to seed to avoid prolific self-seeding.

Mustard Greens Pests and Diseases

  • Mustard can be attacked by flea beetles and aphids. Wash these pests away with a blast of water.
  • Mustard is susceptible to white rust. Remove leaves that have white rust.
  • To avoid diseases, water plants at the base of the stem keeping moisture off the leaves.

Harvesting Mustard Greens

  • Pick individual leaves when they are young and tender, 3 to 4 inches (7-10cm) long, or cut and use the entire plant.
  • Complete the harvest before the weather grows hot; hot weather will cause leaves to become tough and strong flavored.
  • Complete the harvest before the plant goes to seed.

Storing and Preserving Mustard Greens

  • Mustard will keep in the vegetable compartment of the refrigerator for 2 to 3 weeks.
  • Mustard leaves can be frozen or dried. Mustard seeds can be sprouted.
Giant Red Mustard leaves
‘Red Giant’ mustard leaves

Mustard Varieties to Grow

  • Curled Leaf: ‘Fordhook Fancy’ (40 days); ‘Red Giant’ (23 days); ‘Green Wave’ (45 days); ‘Southern Giant Curled’ (40 days).
  • Plain Leaf: ‘Florida Broad Leaf’ (43-50 days); ‘Tendergreen’ (34-40 days).
  • Oriental Mustard Cabbage-green stalks: ‘Chinese Pac Choi’ (60 days); ‘Choi Sum’ (60 days); ‘Dai Gai Choy’ (65 days).
  • Oriental Mustard Cabbage-white stalks: ‘Bok Choi’ (45-60 days); ‘Chinese Flat Cabbage’ (40 days); ‘Green-In-Snow’ (45 days); ‘Joi-Choi’ (45-50 days).

About Mustard Greens

  • Common name. Mustard, Chinese mustard, leaf mustard, spinach greens
  • Botanical name. Brassica juncea
  • Origin. Asia

Grow 80 vegetables: KITCHEN GARDEN GROWERS’ GUIDE

Written by Stephen Albert

Stephen Albert is a horticulturist, master gardener, and certified nurseryman who has taught at the University of California for more than 25 years. He holds graduate degrees from the University of California and the University of Iowa. His books include Vegetable Garden Grower’s Guide, Vegetable Garden Almanac & Planner, Tomato Grower’s Answer Book, and Kitchen Garden Grower’s Guide. His Vegetable Garden Grower’s Masterclass is available online. Harvesttotable.com has more than 10 million visitors each year.

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