Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Mustard Greens

The mustard green is a Southern favorite but I did not plant it last fall nor during the winter season; however, thanks to my compost pile, some of the mustard seeds survived and sprouted here and there and produced huge green leaves.  I left them alone thinking they were too bitter to eat. 

Mustard Greens
I couldn't resist picking some of the large leaves, cook them and eat them. To my surprise they were sweet and delicious. 

To my knowledge, the greens contain vitamins A and K, carotene, and are filled with cancer preventive and anti-inflammatory properties.

I was going to leave them alone and let them produce their bright yellow flowers that the bees and butterflies love. 

The flowers form an abundance of small pods filled with seeds that may be ground into powder and used as a base for mustard.

Checking my planting schedule for northeast Florida, I found that February is a good time to plant mustard seeds at 1/2 inch deep in rows 1 and 1/2 to 2 feet apart.  The mustard plants become rather large when side dressed with nitrogen rich fertilizer to stimulate the growth of lush green leaves.  The seeds germinate in about nine (9) days and mature in 50 - 70 days.

It also helps to mulch to keep the soil moist and to water only when necessary.  It is recommended to weed and thin the plants as soon as plants emerge.  Why fertilize weeds?

To harvest, start picking young leaves to use raw in salads (I'm not there yet).  I do like to cook my mustard greens and serve them with last summer's home made watermelon rind pickles.  Mustard greens, after removing the thick stems, will freeze well after blanching, cooled under running water, and packed in plastic quart size plastic bags, and stored in the freezer.

The mustard green is the first vegetable I plan to direct sow in my spring garden, harvest some, and let some go to seeds for the bees I hope will visit and help with my garden.

I have signed up for the A to Z Blog Challenge for 2014, have you?
Thank you for visiting my blog.

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