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This October plant will add colour to your winter.


Getting Started

At a glance:

  • Germination temperature: 15-20°C
  • Germ depth: 1-2 cm
  • Germination time: 3–5 days
  • Row spacing: 15 cm
  • Plant spacing: 2–3 cm
  • Root depth: 15 cm
  • Sow outdoors: March to August
  • House sowing: August to March (in a cool place)
  • If possible, take a 3-year culture break from other cruciferous vegetables

We love autumn. The colours of the trees and leaves can be simply breathtaking. And as you will soon discover for yourself, Leaf Mustard "Rouge Metis" gives those trees a run for their money.

But leaf mustard also brings vitamins and color to your salads in winter, spring and summer as well.

As its name, French for “red blend”, would indicate, leaf mustard’s red colour is most pronounced when the leaf mustard gets a lot of sun in cool temperatures. A fresh autumn or spring day makes it particularly radiant.

So with that said, strap in – we are about to dive into a super-nerdy run-down of everything you could possible desire to know about leaf mustard!

Spinatpflanzen werden geerntet und in einen Korb gelegt, Hände von oben
In any time of year, Leaf Mustard will add a spot of colour to your garden or plate.

Sowing

Here's what you need:

  • A pot, a loosened bed or a flower box
  • Some garden or potting soil with a little compost
  • A device for watering your plant

If you are planting in a bed, loosen up the soil a little and make grooves at a distance of 15 cm. These should be about 1–2 cm deep. You can also make these grooves in your flower box.

If you are using a pot, use your fingers to poke holes 1–2 cm deep in the loose soil. The distance between the holes should be about 3 cm.

Now tear your seed paper into pieces with one seed each and place them 3 cm apart in the grooves or in the prepared holes and cover them with soil. Don't forget to water everything well and keep the seeds moist.

Note: in most moderate climates, the leaf mustard will not do well outdoors between September and March, as the appropriate germination temperatures can no longer be reached. But this makes it a perfect windowsill plant, since you can sow it in a pot or box, and place it a slightly cooler place after it germinates.

Location

To help your leaf mustard grow in the best possible conditions, try and find a place that is:

  • Sunny or partially shaded
  • Soil: rich in humus, loose and permeable
  • In winter: a bright windowsill in a cool room will do just fine, or – if you’re more hardcore – in a greenhouse

Nobody Likes Noisy Neighbours

Good neighbours: lettuce, leeks, onion
Bad neighbours: other cruciferous vegetables – more on this in a second

Spinatpflanzen
So many different types of veggies go well with leaf mustard!

Care for Your Leaf Mustard

  • Prepare the bed with compost before sowing
  • Water regularly, whether growing in a pot or outdoors
  • Remove any dried out parts of the plant as it grows

Hibernation

While your leaf mustard only grows once a year and will no longer germinate outdoors in autumn and winter, you can still leave a leaf mustard sown in late summer in the open air in a bed or in a pot and then harvest it in autumn and winter - it will then keep at temperatures as low as -10°C.

Diseases and pests

Like all mustard varieties, leaf mustard belongs to the cruciferous family of plants. These include radishes, cabbage, broccoli and rocket. It is less suitable as an intermediate crop in the vegetable garden, as representatives of this family often infect each other with diseases or pests. Basically, these guys have been practising social distancing way before it was cool.

For example, if you are growing leaf mustard as an intermediate crop and it is infected with clubroot, the fungal disease can spread through the ground to other major crops like broccoli. Not cool. So take a break of at least 3 years between cruciferous vegetables, do not plant them next to each other, and choose lamb's lettuce, peas or phacelia as fertilisers.

Keeping this 3-year gap between planting families in the same soil, you will have a much easier time avoiding diseases and pests that hibernate in the soil.

Here are some possible pests for your leaf mustard:

  • Cabbage fleas
  • Downy powdery mildew
  • Other cabbage diseases as mentioned above

Keep a close eye on your leaf mustard and choose a new location next year if you find yourself having to deal with severe pest infestation or find diseases when harvesting.

Spinatblätter in Metallschüssel auf Holzbrett
Leaf Mustard doesn't just look pretty – its flavour packs a punch and compliments many recipes, dishes and styles of cooking!

Harvest and Storage

After a few weeks you can either harvest the entire plant or cut off the outer leaves as needed.

In the wintertime, your mustard will grow a bit more slowly, because the lower-sunlight environment makes photosynthesis and cell respiration a bit more difficult. Support your plant-baby by treating him to plenty of light – just don't let him get too toasty!

Storage: when freshly harvested, the leaf mustard does not last long. If you need to store it, you can wrap it in a damp cloth and store it in the refrigerator, in which case it only stays crisp for a few days. It is better to harvest as needed and sow several times at intervals of 2 weeks.


Enjoy

Leaf mustard is a perfect fit in any wintry, fruity salad together with Asian lettuces such as the Red Giant, tart winter salads or crunchy Swiss chard. The bright colour of the leaf mustard looks great, and of course, tastes delicious as well. A yoghurt mustard dressing with a little orange juice or a fruity vinaigrette works brilliantly with it as well. As a side dish, try roasting baguette slices in a pan, then top with leaf mustard and drizzle with a little olive oil. We find that makes for a happy change from heavy stews and gravies in the wintertime!

Leaf mustard is also perfectly at-home in a wok dish with rice. To preserve its aroma and valuable ingredients, make sure to only briefly toss the leaves in oil in a hot pan to preserve their flavour, texture and colour.

What about you? What stands out to you about this beautiful vegetable? How do you typically enjoy it? Leave a comment below or tag @primoza_gardening on Instagram, and let us know what you think about leaf mustard!

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