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Plant of the Month: Mustard Greens

Like many leafy greens such as spinach, the leaf of Mustard spinach – as it’s also called – help keep your body safe from damage as it is a storehouse for many phyto-nutrients that support the clearance of toxins in the system.

 

Health Benefits Continued

    •  Very low in calories with 27 calories per 100 grams of raw leaves
    •  Packed with fiber
    • The cholesterol-lowering ability of steamed Mustard greens is second only to steamed collard greens and steamed kale
    • Great source of Vitamin K, which plays a key role in promoting osteotrophic activity which increases bone density and has even been said to limit neuronal damage in patients with Alzheimer’s disease due to its anti-inflammatory benefits
    • Incredible source of Vitamin A, an essential nutrient for maintaining healthy mucus membranes, skin, and eye-sight
    • Also full of Vitamin C to protect against free radical injury and flu-like viral infections
    • Packed with essential minerals such as calcium, iron, magnesium, potassium and zinc
    • Regular consumption is known to prevent arthritis, iron deficiency anemia and believed to offer protection from cardiovascular diseases, asthma and colon and prostate cancers

 

The Look

The color of the leaves can range from profound, dark purple to a vibrant bright green. There are a few different varieties of the Mustard Plant, and each has specific characteristics that set them apart from their closely related cousins.

 

Recommended Varieties

There a host of these varieties. Most of the differences between the varieties are when they will mature and the coloration of the leaves. Here are a few notable varieties:

Florida Broadleaf takes 45 days to harvest. Typically this varietal has large leaves and is slow to bolt.

Green Wave also takes about 45 days to harvest. This varietal is usually a dark green with heavily curled leaves. They grow well in warm temperatures and are very slow to bolt.

Choi Sum is a small Chinese cabbage of a variety with mild-tasting leaves and small edible yellow flowers. Like their cousins, this variety is also slow to bolt.

Southern Giant Curled takes a bit longer to harvest, usually about 50 days. The color is brighter than the previous two mentions with curly, crumpled leaves. You guessed it; bolting happens slowly.

The Taste

Mustard greens pack a flavorful punch. For centuries, they have been used in Asian dishes from Thailand to India. A good comparison in taste would be to the root of the radish. As mentioned earlier, they have a slightly pungent and peppery taste, as you would expect from the source of the sometimes tangy, sometimes spicy condiment.

 

Growing the Mustard

The leafy plants are easy to care for and good companions to fall flowers such as pansies. So much so that they may even be grown right in your flower garden.

Like most plants, regular watering and weeding is a must. Weeds will wreak havoc on the Mustard plant so keep the bed free of weeds so your plants can thrive. Keep an eye on your plants when it gets dry, as they will wither quickly. Moisture-stressed plants will go to seed early and this is when bolting occurs.

They are easy to care for and don’t require heavy feeding, but keep them fertilized to promote faster growing and more nutritious leaves. Great for Containers

Mustard greens are perfect plants to grow in containers. They stay quite compressed and will provide a constant harvest throughout the spring or fall. Mustard plants will seldom grow taller than 3 feet high, which makes them even more suitable for containers.

TIP: Fill containers with loose soil and plant 1 or 2 plants per pot. If you decide to put two plants per container, they should be spacious enough to house them. If you intend to harvest leaves frequently, you can fit more plants in your containers and this will keep their size down.

 

Get Cooking

Though they are often overlooked in favor of spinach, kale, and lettuce, the Huffington Post thinks you may want to reconsider everything you know about cooking with Mustard greens. We love Pinterest for finding creative dishes so we dug up some more tasty recipes and came up with these gems:

Do you have another recipe you’d love to share that incorporates this bountiful, leafy green? We’d love to try them out. Share them in the comments below and let’s get cooking!