Mustard ‘Wasabi-na’ is a Japanese specialty green mustard bred for its wasabi like flavour. The name means ‘like wasabi’ in Japanese because the taste of the leaves remind you of the flavour of wasabi.
The bright green leaves are deeply serrated with curly edges when mature. They are beautiful as a baby leaf, give volume to winter salads and are very good for bunching. Use delicate baby leaves for salad and fresh eating and mature leaves for tsukemono, ohitashi, stir-frying, and pickling.
Seeds can be sown little and often and eaten as micro-greens or used as a garnish. Alternately grow until the leaves are a few centimetres in size and use in a baby leaf salad and mesclun mixes. Left to grow to full size, whole heads can be harvested, or pick individual mature leaves one or two at a time and the plant will continue to grow.
The flavour is at its best when grown briskly so plant in fertile soil and keep well watered. Start harvesting at 20 days for baby leaf or 45 days to maturity. For cut-and-grow-again crops, seed can be densely broadcast.
Oriental Mustards can be grown almost all year round. Sown in late summer the nutritious greens will grow away quickly with little chance of the bolting that affects other crops sown earlier on in the growing season. Oriental Mustards are also a good cool season annual, while there are not many vegetables that will put up with low light levels and cold temperatures to produce a fulsome harvest, these hardy vegetables positively thrive where others fail.
Mustard grows best in a sunny position in a fertile soil. It can be sown directly into open ground or can be planted into grow bags. If grown for babyleaf it can be sown into small containers or even windowboxes. Choose a well-drained container that's at least 10 to 15cm (4 to 6in) deep. Containers may need to be watered a couple times a day when temperatures begin to warm. If growing micro-greens, seeds can be planted in shallow flats and harvested about 10 to 21 days after planting. If given adequate light, they can also be grown indoors during the winter.
Sowing: Sow under cover February to May or sow direct April to October
Mustard seeds can be sown practically year round. Plant little and often, every two weeks for continuous supply. Seeds germinate in 5 to 10 days at temperatures between 7 to 30°C (45 to 85°F)
Sow sparingly in shallow drills 6 to 12mm (¼ to ½ in) deep. Space seeds 2.5cm (1in) apart for cut-and-come-again salad or 20 to 25cm (8 to 10in) for whole plant production. Adequate spacing is most important when growing plants to full size. This is easy to accomplish by simply thinning plants as they begin to get crowded in the garden.
Mustard greens are primarily a cool season vegetable and are at their peak in late spring to early summer. Keep well watered especially in summer. Hot weather causes the plants to bolt and their greens to turn unpleasantly bitter.
An autumn crop is often planted because mustard is frost-resistant and easily overwinters in temperate areas. Protect late sowings with cloches and the plants will keep growing throughout the winter and continue to grow vigorously when temperatures warm and daylight increases.
Harvesting: 20 days for babyleaf, 45 days to maturity
Mustard plants can be harvested for baby leaf once the leaves are 5cm (2in) tall. For milder leaves, pick young, they are best cropped at around 15cm (6in) for salads.
The plants will grow to around 30 to 45cm (12 to 18in) tall. Mature leaves can be boiled or steamed or braised in a pot with a little butter and garlic.
Use scissors or a knife rather than pulling the leaves to avoid damaging the plant. Keep picking regularly to prevent flowers running to seed. Pull and compost the plants once hot weather arrives in the summer, as mustard greens become tough and bitter.
Mustard greens are equally at home raw, cooked and even fermented and pickled. Young leaves can be tossed into summer salads; their peppery bite adds a sharp note with more mild lettuces.
Older, larger mustard greens are better cooked. As with most oriental brassicas, the mustard flavours strengthen slightly with age but cooking has the opposite effect and reduces any pungency. Because mustard greens are more tender than their leafy-green Brassica family members collards and turnip greens, they need far less time to cook.
Store unwashed greens in plastic bags in the crisper drawer of the refrigerator. They will keep for about three days after harvesting. Wrap in moist paper towels for longer storage, up to five days. The flavour may intensify in the refrigerator during the longer five-day storage.
Mustard has been cultivated for centuries across Asia and Europe for both its edible seeds, ground and made into mustard (the condiment) or pressed for their oil along with its leaves (and even stems). Mustard is member of the impressive Brassica family which includes cabbage, collards, bok choy, kale and radishes.
There are several different types of mustard, some of which are native to central Asia, probably somewhere in the Himalayan region and some that are native to Europe.
It is primarily Brassica juncea that are eaten as greens, though it’s worth mentioning two other types: Brassica nigra - black mustard, used primarily for the condiment, and Sinapsis alba - white or yellow mustard, also used primarily in condiment-making, but also eaten as a green vegetable.
Ancient Greeks and Romans enjoyed mustard seed as a paste and powder. In about 1300, the name "mustard" was given to the condiment made by mixing “mustum”, which is the Latin word for unfermented grape juice, with ground mustard seeds.
In Medieval Europe, courts and monasteries often employed a person, called a mustardarius, whose sole job was to oversee the growing and making of mustard. (from roughly the late 400s to the mid-1400s). The mustardarius would break apart brown mustard seeds, then add an acidic liquid like wine, vinegar or verjuice and some salt, to make a sauce not unlike what we now think of as mustard. The monastic communities would eat this with meat and fish, the latter of which formed a large part of their diet.
For centuries Mustard has been considered an elixir of sort; today it is used liberally as a ketchup. There was a belief that mustard played an important part in maintaining good health – it was considered ‘hot’ and therefore served with ‘cold’ foods to 'balance the humour of a meal'. It was also drunk (gulp!) and gargled to treat sore throats.
- Additional Information
Packet Size 1 gram Average Seed Count 575 Seeds Seed Form Natural Seeds per gram 575 seeds per gram Common Name Oriental or Leaf Mustard Other Common Names Mustard Greens Other Language Names Kai Choy, Gai Choy or Takana Family Brassicaceae Genus Brassica Species juncea Cultivar Wasabi-na Hardiness Hardy Annual Height 30 to 45cm (12 to 18in) Position Full sun or partial shade. Time to Sow Can be sown all year round Time to Harvest 20 days for babyleaf, 45 days to maturity