A photo of Alison Spaude-FilipczakOne unique project at the Greenbank Farm Training Center this year was growing seed for the retail market. Our farm manager landed a contract with High Mowing Organic Seeds to grow 35-50 pounds of Golden Frill Mustard.  We were to take this specialty green that is typically harvested somewhere between 21 to 45 days and see it through its entire lifecycle. From seed to tender green to bolting plant to full, mature seedpods.  We watched this annual give its best at the reproduction cycle.

We stared in spring. High Mowing Organic Seeds sent us a packet of seeds that we started in cell trays in our greenhouse. At three weeks, a time when Golden Frill Mustard is perfect as a baby salad green, we transplanted the seedlings outdoors. We put three hundred plants in each one hundred foot bed and planted five beds. This put us at roughly 1,500 plants. That is a lot of mustard!

Young Mustard 

It was an easy crop to forget about.  We weeded and irrigated the mustard of course, but the vegetables we were growing for our CSA stole our attention.  As summer progressed the plants began to bolt, one at a time like popcorn popping in a pan. Suddenly all of the small ruffled greens that were so cute had shot up over our heads, creating a forest of flowering mustard plants. Enormous tubers that looked like ugly kohlrabi showed above the surface. One could see how much energy the plant was putting into setting flowers.

This was bee heaven. A hum of buzzing echoed throughout the mustard square, and when the yellow flowers gave way to long skinny seedpods, the bird moved in.  They wanted what we wanted: ripe, mature seed. Flash tape decorated the t-posts that we put up to help support the voluminous plants, a scarecrow was erected, and a few rocks were thrown to try to keep away the birds as the seed became more and more ripe.

Flowering Mustard 

veronica
12/2/2010 9:56:35 AM

I agree with Dave. It has been so nice to read about your experiences. I'll certainly never look at mustard the same way again. I do hope you will continue to blog about your journey.


nebraska dave
12/1/2010 7:28:07 PM

Alison, it’s been such a joy to get your updates throughout the year. I can only hope it gave you as much satisfaction to write about the journey of the Greenbank farm training center. All aspects of the CSA business have been covered thoroughly. I for one have learned a few things by reading along with your posts about planning, growing, marketing, and now seed harvesting. I hope you will consider continuing to blog after the training has been completed. Have a great Mustard harvesting day.





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