With nearly every order from Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds, they send you a free seed packet. It’s a nice touch that avid gardeners love. Often, it gives you an opportunity to try something you’ve never grown before.
This year, I was given a free packet of Japanese Giant Red mustard (Brassica juncea), and it has quickly become a favorite. Here are the top 8 reasons why I’ll be growing Japanese Giant Red mustard greens every year for the foreseeable future.
8 Reasons to Grow Japanese Giant Red Mustard Greens
- Mustard greens are fairly simple to grow. If you can grow kale, you can grow mustard plants. They’re a Brassica, but unlike their finicky cousins, broccoli and cauliflower, which are grown for the heads and are notoriously picky about climate and weather conditions, mustard plants are grown for their leaves and are much more forgiving.
- Mustard greens are a cool-weather crop that is best when grown in the spring and fall, however, you can find heat-tolerant varieties, such as Japanese Giant Red, that will allow you to grow the crop in the early summer as well.
- Mustard greens have a unique flavor that some have described as sharp, spicy, or garlicky. It has a peppery bite to it that’s a little bit like arugula.
- Mustard greens are packed with vitamins, including vitamin C, vitamin K, and vitamin A. Plus, they have important minerals, such as calcium, magnesium, and potassium.
- Mustard greens are loaded with antioxidants, including flavonoids, beta carotene, and lutein. Red and purple varieties of mustard greens, such as Japanese Giant Red, also have antioxidants called anthocyanins, which are good for the heart and the prevention of certain cancers and type 2 diabetes.
- Mustard greens, like other Brassicas, can help lower cholesterol by binding bile acids in the digestive system.
- The leaves of Japanese Giant Red mustard are big and beautiful. The 5 or 6 seedlings that I put into the garden in the early spring quickly filled in the space with gorgeous purple and green leaves, which shaded out weeds.
- You get a lot of bang for your buck with the Japanese Giant Red mustard variety. One leaf off a giant mustard plant gives you the equivalent of picking from several spinach plants.
- There are tons of delicious-looking mustard greens recipes to try, including sautéed greens with garlic, pickled mustard greens, mustard greens and gruyere quiche, and many more. You can also dehydrate the leaves and turn them into a green powder that can be added to smoothies and sauces.
Mustard Greens are a Healthy Food for Most People
Mustard greens are a very healthy food for the majority of people. However, like other Brassica plants, they contain oxalates, so if you are susceptible to oxalate-type kidney stones, you may want to steer clear of them or make sure to eat them well-cooked. In addition, the high levels of vitamin K may interfere with blood-thinning medications.
Disclosure/Disclaimer: I am not a medical or health care professional. These statements have not been approved by the FDA. You should consult a doctor if you have a known condition or are concerned about interactions with medication.
How to Grow Mustards Greens
If I’ve convinced you to grow your own mustard greens, here’s a quick rundown of what you’ll need to know before adding them to your garden.
Frost hardy mustard greens can be sown directly in the garden in the early spring or late summer, or they can be started indoors and transplanted into the garden in the early spring or late summer.
Mustard greens enjoy rich soil, so using compost or manure in the garden is recommended.
Mustard Growing Requirements & Information
- Light -Full Sun — at least 6 hours of direct sunlight during the day. However, some varieties will continue to thrive in partial shade.
- Ideal Temperature — 50 to 75 degrees F is typical, but check the variety for specific tolerances
- Soil Preference — Grows in slightly acidic to slightly basic soil between 6.0 and 7.5 on the pH scale.
- Plant Spacing — Varies depending on variety. Japanese Giant Red requires 6″ to 12″ between plants.
- Seed Planting Depth — 1/4″
- Days to Maturity — Varies depending on variety. Most mustard greens will mature within 40 to 55 days.
For more information, including a list of varieties to try and a list of common pests, there is a comprehensive guide to growing mustard greens from Morning Chores that I recommend reading.