Part of the brassica family, mustard makes an excellent choice as a late-season crop. The plentiful leaves make the perfect accompaniment to hearty stews, the younger shoots are delicious in a stir fry and the seeds make a useful addition to any spice cupboard. Tolerant of early autumn’s light frosts, mustard is often used as a second crop to take up nitrogen in the soil left by early vegetables.
As August 7th is Mustard Day, here’s a guide to growing this ancient and popular plant in your garden.
Super easy to cultivate
In terms of position, mustard copes equally well with full sun and partial shade. You can sow the seeds directly into the ground in a bed that has just been cleared of an earlier crop, providing you with welcome ground cover in late summer and a surprisingly versatile crop in early autumn.
Tips on harvesting
Use mustard shoots and leaves just as you would any winter greens – simply pick, toss in a salad or sweat down with butter and garlic for a vibrant savoury dish with a subtle, peppery flavour. Mustard flowers can be used as a pretty, edible garnish too.
To harvest the flavourful seeds, pick the pods just after they change from green to brown and leave them to dry in a warm place for about two weeks. Once dry, gently crush the pods to remove the tiny seeds. The seeds can be used in pickles, curries and as a quick way of livening up any dish that needs a bit of heat, or you can make your own mustard relish.
Varieties such as Red Giant, Green Frills and Hoshi are particularly colourful and attractive, providing a lovely view if planted close to your rattan garden furniture.