Keen as Mustard: Growing Mustard Plants for Greens and Seeds

Grow and harvest leaves and seeds of brassicas: yellow mustard, brown mustard, black mustard and Asian mustard greens to eat, cook and replant.

Photo by Adobe Stock/Peter Hermes Furian

Food history was made in ancient Rome when ingredients such as fish oil, vinegar, and grape juice were added to the seeds of the mustard plant, creating the condiment we know today as mustard. In fact, one of the first written recipes for mustard dates from the 4th century B.C.E. This beloved herb was widely grown throughout its native distribution in Europe, Asia, and North Africa.

Nowadays, mustard is a condiment staple in most North American kitchens, right up there with ketchup and relish. Worldwide, we eat 700 million pounds of mustard every year!

Mustard is an extremely useful and versatile plant, grown for its seeds and greens. Whether you’re looking to jazz up your grilled food with a flavorful spread or enjoy the hot, spicy taste that the leaves bring to a salad, here are a few tips to grow this easy-care, fast-producing crop in your own garden.

Get to Know the Greens

Mustard is related to garden favorites such as broccoli, cauliflower, kale, cabbage, collards, turnips, arugula, and Brussels sprouts. Several types of mustard exist, including yellow mustard (Brassica hirta or Sinapis alba), brown mustard (B. juncea), and black mustard (B. nigra). “Asian mustard greens” is a more generalized term used to encompass many types of spicy greens.

Yellow mustard seeds are the main ingredient in the yellow condiment typically found in a squeeze bottle. When ground up, the seeds are useful as a powder added to stews, chilis, and salad dressings. Brown mustard is grown as an oilseed crop in some parts of the world, although it’s mostly used as a condiment or spice, while black mustard is a key component of Dijon mustard. Asian mustard greens are usually sown for their beautiful, intensely flavored leaves. Depending on the species, the leaves may be red, purple, green, or yellow, and they may be deeply serrated and frilly. Mustard greens are a healthful salad ingredient, full of large amounts of vitamins A, C, E, and K, as well as fiber. Some mustard seeds can even be made into a specialized flour!

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