Growing Mustard Greens

Mustard is an ancient plant in the Brassicaceae family. This wild cabbage was the parent plant from which Europeans cultivated the familiar cabbage that we have today along with broccoli, cauliflower, kale, and Brussel sprouts. Grow it in the garden as an easy to care for plant and a nutritious green. Chop it up raw into salads and wraps or cook it as a savory side dish.


How To Plant Mustard Greens

Soil should be well draining and amended with compost. To amend the soil, spread 3 to 6 inches of finished compost over the planting area and turn it in with a fork or hoe.

Mustard is a cool season vegetable like its Brassica relatives. It can tolerate a frost, but heat will send it straight to seed before it produces leaves. Planting mustard in the cool seasons of spring and fall will give the best results. Sow seeds directly into the garden about 3 weeks before the last frost in your area.

Scatter them across the planting area and keep the ground evenly moist. Seeds will sprout within 10 days. Mustard greens can grow tightly packed together, thinning is optional. Plant a new crop every 3 weeks for a successional harvest throughout the year.

How To Care For Mustard Greens

If temperatures reach above 80°F (26.6°C), mustard plants may start to flower under stress. Make sure plants are well watered during heat spells. Mulching around the bases of plants will keep more moisture in the ground and shade the soil cooling plant roots. Shade cloths or row covers can be utilized to protect plants from sun damage.

These greens are fast growing, and you can start to harvest at any time. Smaller young greens are mild and more enjoyable raw while older thicker leaves are better cooked. It comes in many varieties with various ruffles, cut leaves, colors, textures, and sizes. Here are some popular varieties and their characteristics:

  • Mizuna – Green Heirloom, Deeply Cut Leaves, Cold Resistant (50 Days)
  • Green Wave – Green, Lightly Ruffled, Bolt Resistant, Easy To Grow (45 Days)
  • Scarlet Frills – Red, Deeply Cut and Frilly, Good Baby Leaf (37 Days)
  • Garnet Giant – Red, Smooth Leaves, Good Baby Green, Mild, (45 Days)

How To Harvest Mustard Greens

Harvest leaves at any time, baby greens are typically cut when they are 3 or 4 inches tall. To cut baby greens as a ‘cut-and-come-again’ you can cut the entire plant to the soil level when the leaves are around 4 inches tall. The plant will produce another leaf harvest within weeks.

To harvest larger greens simply cut them away from the stem as low as possible. Taking the outer leaves will allow the plant to continue to produce more. Leaves that are over 6 inches tall may be bitter and better eaten when cooked.