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Mustard, sinapis arvensis, is an annual herbaceous plant native to Europe, which reaches 70-80 cm in height. It consists of tufts of thin, rigid, branched stems, which bear numerous dark green, opaque, sessile, elongated, toothed oval leaves, up to 15-20 cm long; from May to September numerous small yellow flowers bloom at the apex of the stems; in autumn the flowers give way to fruits: long pods containing small dark seeds.
Sinapis alba is very similar, but produces shorter pods with yellow seeds. With the mustard seeds, excellent sauces are used to accompany meat and vegetable dishes; the leaves can be eaten cooked and have a flavor similar to spinach; freshly germinated seeds are consumed in salads.
The leaves of all varieties can be harvested at any time and should be used in the shortest possible time in order to preserve all their aroma and freshness. The larger ones can be scalded and then combined with other vegetables or flavored dishes such as omelettes or omelettes.
Mustard is grown in very sunny areas, does not like the shade; this plant dies when colds arrive, so it must be planted at the beginning of spring, to collect the seeds at the end of the summer; the small seeds can be stored immediately, or they must be stored in airtight containers after being well dried.
The hedge is sown when late spring, when night temperatures do not fall below 10 ° C. Initially it is better to sow the sinapis arvensis in small containers, such as seedbeds or alveolar containers and jars to facilitate the first phase of growth. Subsequently, the mustard is transplanted to bury it and continue cultivation.
THE MUSTARD IN BRIEF
|Family, genus, species||Brassicaceae, brassica nigra, alba, arvensis, juncea|
|Type of plant||Annual or biennial, herbaceous, aromatic, horticultural|
|Maximum height and width||From persistent to semi-persistent|
|Maximum height and width||150 x 70 cm|
|Growth||From fast to medium|
|Rusticitа||From quite to very rustic|
|Exposure||From sun to half shade|
|Ground||Not demanding, but prefers rich, deep and clayey|
|Location||Full earth or vase|
|Soil moisture||Always fresh|
|Use||Aromatic zone, natural borders, green manure, forage|
Let us remember to water the mustard only in case of long periods of drought, usually these plants are satisfied with the rains. It does not need additional fertilizers, especially if it is planted in garden soil rich in organic matter.
Mustard plants prefer clay soils, and sandy and very drained soil is not tolerated. The first period of growth requires mainly nitrogen but without requiring excessive quantities. If you plant the mustard on the ground no special fertilization will be necessary. If, on the other hand, you choose to grow in pots, you will have to get yourself a sufficiently large pot and good quality soil. The minimum diameter of the pot to grow mustard is 20 cm and the soil to be used must be a neutral soil with a good percentage of porous stones to improve the structure and drainage of the soil.
THE CALENDAR OF THE MUSTARD
|Sowing||From February to September, climb for the annuals|
|Collection of leaves||From April to December|
|Seed harvesting||From the beginning of autumn|
The multiplication of mustard occurs mainly by seed: sow at the beginning of spring directly at home or in containers as described before. The main varieties of mustard that are grown are white mustard, black mustard and wild mustard. The name of the first two varieties is due to the color of their branches. Wild mustard is the species with more delicate taste and aroma but with a slightly more rustic growth.
Pests and diseases
Speaking of diseases and parasites of mustard, it is worth noting that often aphids ruin buds and flower buds, compromising the production of seeds. The wrong climatic conditions of cultivation can often ruin the plant and induce a deterioration that facilitates the attack of pests and the entry of diseases.
It is a generally resistant plant, but over time, due to intensive cultivation in some areas, some pathogens have proved insidious.
In particular, brown mustard is sensitive topowdery mildew, especially at the end of spring and early autumn. We always choose a well-ventilated and open position, avoiding as much as possible to wet the leaves during irrigation.
The small seedlings and the base of the adult ones are very attractive for snails and slugs. We create barriers with ash, egg shells or sand. The beer traps are useful.
Another enemy is the alticini, beetles that particularly affect the Brassicaceae. They cause holes on the leaves that can weaken the plant. The ideal is to protect the specimens with very thick mesh nets.
Seed collection and storage
The seeds are harvested in late summer-early autumn. We must proceed before they are completely ripe and become dark. Cut the stems at the base, collect them in bunches and place them to dry in a shaded, dry and airy area. We lay a cloth underneath in order to collect the grains that should begin to fall. Once everything is well dried, shake it and beat it with a stick to help the seeds come out.
They are very well preserved for at least two years, especially if they are enclosed in airtight cans protected from light and heat.
Use in the kitchen
Mustard is known and used for food and medicine since ancient times. The sauce that gives the name is very popular all over the world: it is the most consumed after ketchup and mayonnaise. It is used in particular in the French, English (and consequently American) cuisine, but can vary both in appearance and in the ingredients and in the overall final taste, more or less pungent.
The seeds are also widely used in Asian cuisine. Pounded with a mortar they become an indispensable ingredient for the typical Indian spice melange. They can be sautéed whole and used to flavor vegetables, salads and meats.
They are often an essential element in the preparation of preserves in oil and vinegar (for example of cauliflower, cucumber and cabbage). In Japan and Korea a very spicy sauce is obtained (karashi or yeongyeoja) to accompany soups, ravioli and meat.
In Italy mostarda is very famous (from Cremona, Voghera, Mantova, Vicenza): it is candied fruit or vegetables (or reduced to a compound) flavored with essential oil or spicy mustard powder. It goes well with boiled meats in general, or with cheeses. The name mostarda (moutarde in French) refers to the grape must, from which in the past they made aromatized compotes with finely ground seeds.
Height and color of flowers
|White mustard (Sinapis alba)||From 50 to 90 cm, yellow flowers||Seeds, flowers and leaves||Delicately spicy|| Improves the texture of compact soils|
Excellent as a forage for dairy animals
| Fast growth,|
even in winter
|Conduct seeding because the seedlings run out quickly|
|Black mustard (Brassica nigra)||Up to 1 m, yellow flowers||Seeds, leaves and flowers||Very spicy||Good green manure plant|
|(Sinapis arvensis)|| Up to 80 cm|
Bright yellow flowers
|Leaves and flowers||Slightly spicy. Good in salads or freshly cooked||Useful in natural borders to attract pollinating insects and butterflies|| It flowers from spring to autumn, in the South all year round.|
|It can become invasive.|
|Biennale||Brown mustard (Brassica juncea)|| From 40 to 150 cm|
Yellow flowers in bunches
|Leaves and seeds||Spicy flavor like that of nigra||From green manure|| Rapid growth, large seeds|
With nigra it is the most used for the production of extracts and Dijon mustard
|It can be grown as an annual (to collect leaves) or as a biennial (for seeds)|
Mustard - Sinapis arvensis: Other uses
White mustard has been known since ancient times and is also cultivated as a forage plant since the animals that feed on them produce a rich and very tasty milk. Their flowers also attract highly pollinating insects, such as bees, bumblebees and butterflies. It is therefore a good idea to always cultivate some specimens near the vegetable garden in order to obtain an abundant production. It is also very appreciated as a green manure plant: thanks to its deep and ramified roots it is able to make clay soils more soft and airy. The bundles can then be incorporated into the soil, enriching it with organic substance.
In the garden it is also useful for removing nematodes: it is therefore very well suited to potatoes, tomatoes and aubergines (which are often victims). Instead, the proximity of other brassicas such as cabbage, radishes and rocket should be avoided. It also enters into conflict with legumes.
Mustard, also called with the scientific name of Sinapsis species or Brassica species, belongs to the family of
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