Two kinds of mustard are popular in American gardens, both derived from plants native to the Mediterranean eastward into Asia. Curly-leafed mustard looks similar to curly-leafed kale in appearance. It is usually cooked like spinach or cabbage; young leaves are sometimes eaten raw in salads or used as garnishes. ‘Golden Frill’, ‘Green Wave’, ‘Ruby Streaks’, and ‘Southern Giant Curled’ are good examples.
Mustard spinach (also called tendergreen mustard) has smooth dark green leaves. It matures earlier than curly-leafed mustard and is more tolerant of hot, dry weather. ‘Red Giant’ (‘Chinese Red’) has large, crinkled leaves with strong red shading and is handsome enough for a border. Use young mustard spinach as a salad green; older leaves can be cooked.
Mustard is easy to grow, and it grows fast—it’s ready for the table 35 to 60 days after planting. Sow in rows in early spring; make successive sowings when young plants from each previous planting are established. Thrives in cool weather but quickly goes to seed in summer heat. For fall harvest, sow in late summer; in mild-winter areas, plant again in fall and winter. Thin seedlings to 6 in. apart. Harvest outer leaves as needed.
Native to Europe and Asia, this salad vegetable is grown for its thick, crunchy stalks.
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