We’re back in the Kitchen Garden with London Herb Garden today and we’re looking at one of my favourites, Mustard.
As I have been starting to plan what I will be growing in my autumn and winter gardens (yes really!), I have looked increasingly at brassicas. This group contains cabbages, purple sprouting broccoli and other winter and spring cabbages but also contains mustard, which is often used as a herb. In fact, it is used as such in a lot of oriental cuisine, as demonstrated by its various names: mustard greens, Indian mustard, Chinese mustard, or leaf mustard. It, obviously has a distinct mustard flavour, but the leaves in particular have a distinct horseradish flavour and all parts of the plant are edible. The plant is fairly large, growing up to 90cm tall, and produces large, wide leaves.
The condiment, mustard, is made from this plant and the seeds are evident in any grainy mustard, or indeed, pickle or chutney. I have tried this plant in most of its others forms, used as a garnish, used as a leafy green (sometimes in curries) and used in salads, however it is also used in Japanese cuisine often pickled and used as filling in onigiri or as a condiment, a version which I feel I must try. It is a hardy plant so grows, albeit slowly, through the colder months, and makes a good addition to any lettuces you are planning on over wintering this year. It will need some time to develop over the summer in order to be a reasonable size during the winter, so plant now or in the next month to ensure a large crop through to next spring.
How to grow mustard:
- Prepare a section of garden in full to partial sun by forking over the soil and removing any large stones. The site should not have been used for other brassica plants for three years running.
- Sow mustard seed directly in garden soil 1cm deep and 30cm apart. — when the soil temperature is from 45 to 85 degrees Fahrenheit.
- Thin seedlings to 30cm apart when they are 5cm tall.