Monday, April 19, 2010

Mustard Mizuna

Botanical Name: Brassica rapa
Other name: Kyona, Japanese Mustard, Potherb Mustard, Japanese Greens, California Peppergrass, Spider Mustard

A Japanese mustard green, Mizuna is believed to have evolved originally from India and is prized as much for its ornamental beauty as its culinary value. The mounds of thin, holly-like serrated leaves seem to “float” above the ground when planted as a border, or in the flower garden as a backdrop for low-growing flowers such as alyssum or lobelia. The plants grow quickly which also makes them great for hiding daffodil and crocus foliage once flowers are done blooming. Grown as an annual plant.

Leaves are ready to harvest in just three weeks after seedlings emerge and will withstand heat longer than lettuce without bolting. Mizuna’s looks are deceptive – this beautiful, graceful, branching plant may have a delicate appearance, but its seedlings are tough and will germinate outdoors under cold and wet spring conditions.

How to grow
Sow seeds in early spring to early summer and late summer to early fall. It can be sown as early as 3 weeks before the last spring frost. It typically takes about 55 days to reach maturity. Sow at 1/2 to 1 inch in fertile, well-drained loamy soil, should should not be sandy. Keep soil moderately moist during germination, avoid soggy conditions, 6 inch spacing in rows 12 to 18 inches apart to grow to maturity. Germination in 10-14 days.

Cooking info
The delicate leaves add crisp, fresh beauty to a salad of other micro greens or mixed with white daikon. Milder than arugula, the peppery mustard flavor is an excellent addition to soups and stir-fries, as well. The Japanese enjoy the spicy leaves pickled.

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