Grow Your Own Mizuna Lettuce
If you're easily bored by the salads you buy at the grocery store, I'd like to introduce you to mizuna, also known as Japanese mustard greens. These leaves have a fresh, peppery, slightly tangy flavor that's a little less spicy than arugula. Leaves range from a glossy dark green to purple with feathered edges (which gives them their other name, spider mustard), and some varieties even have hot pink and bright purple stems. So, your salad bowl will both look beautiful and taste more exciting.
Here are four more reasons to grow mizuna in your raised beds or in containers:
one: mizuna is easy to grow
This cool season plant is vigorous, cold-resistant, and easy to grow in most soils. Plus, it can add lots of beauty to your raised beds. I like to grow mizuna plants near the edges of my beds to fully appreciate them.
two: mizuna has many uses
The Japanese like to pickle the leaves or use them in hot pots, stir fries, and soups. The leaves can be steamed, sautéd, boiled, or stir-fried, though they shrink quickly like spinach leaves, so it's best to add them near the end of your cooking. In salads, mizuna mixes really well with mustard greens, mesclun mixes, or spring mixes. You could also add mizuna to pasta dishes, pizza, or risotto for a nice crunch.
three: mizuna is super nutritious
Mizuna belongs to the brassica family, the same family that has kale, so you know it's going to be good for you. The leaves are high in vitamins A, C, and K, plus folate and iron. They contain essential minerals such as calcium, magnesium, manganese, potassium, zinc, and selenium.
four: plant mizuna once —> get leaves for weeks
Mizuna is a great cut-and-and-come again salad green, meaning you can plant it once, harvest leaves, give the plant time to grow, and then come back for more.
Let's look at how to plant, tend, protect, and harvest mizuna.
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How to plant mizuna in your salad garden
The Best Time to Plant Mizuna Greens
Mizuna grows best and will produce tastier leaves during your cool season (when you have an average high temperature between 31°F and 64°F). Mature mizuna plants can tolerate light frost. In some areas, mizuna can be grown under a cold frame over the winter.
Sow your mizuna seeds in the spring as soon as your soil can be worked. For as long as the weather is on the cooler side, plant your mizuna in full sun.
Unlike many other leafy greens, mizuna is slow to bolt in hot weather. Look for varieties that can handle higher temps if you're hoping to extend your mizuna growing season once it's warmer than 70°F outside, and plant your mizuna in the shade of taller plants or use a shade cloth. Temps that are regularly above 90°F are too hot for mizuna to thrive. Grow something more heat-tolerant and then sow more seeds for your fall garden.
Mizuna Seeds Planting Guide
Before you sow mizuna seeds, add some fresh compost to your beds. Leafy greens love compost-rich soil.
I don't like to thin plants, so I typically take some time to space my seeds apart as I'm sowing. To sow mizuna seeds, use a dibber or chopstick to dig a small hole about a quarter of an inch deep. Place one seed inside. Sow seeds about two to three inches apart and plant in zig zags. With this style of planting, you'll need to harvest often to ensure plants have enough space and airflow.
If you scatter your seeds haphazardly (as I've been known to do), you might need to come back and snip some seedlings at the surface level to give others more room (and, of course, eat whatever you cut, no matter how small).
For succession sowing, leave some of your soil bare and then sow more mizuna seeds every two to three weeks.
Cover your seeds with a thin layer of soil or compost, and give them a good watering in.
You can expect to see sprouts within four to ten days of planting.
If your raised beds are full or if you don't have raised beds set up yet, you can grow mizuna in a container along with other leafy greens. Explore the best containers for salad gardening. One advantage of growing in containers is the ability to move your plants to find more sunlight. Just make sure your container has holes for drainage. If you're really short on growing space, consider growing mizuna indoors as microgreens.
Here are the steps to create your own easy cut-and-come-again salad planter to grow all the mizuna and lettuces you can eat.
Find more tips to grow your own gourmet salad garden
Learn how to plant, tend, and harvest your very own homegrown leafy greens with this instantly downloadable ebook from Nicole Burke of Gardenary.
How to care for mizuna in your salad garden
Salad plants like lettuce and mizuna are fairly easy to care for, which makes them great starter plants in the garden.
Make sure your mizuna plants receive at least one inch of water per week. If you're not expecting rain, you'll need to hand water or install an irrigation system. Focus your watering on the roots of the plant, not the leaves.
If you added compost to your soil before you sowed your seeds, you shouldn't need to give your plants much more by way of nutrients. If leaves begin to look discolored, check your watering levels and add another layer of compost.
How to protect mizuna from pests in your salad garden
The easiest and most effective way to protect your leafy greens from pests is to use an inexpensive garden mesh. Read more about this organic pest solution here.
Add your cover over your mizuna plants as soon as you sow seeds. Seedlings are particularly vulnerable to pest pressure, and you don't want to cover once you've already spotted pests, only to trap the bugs underneath the mesh and give them an endless leaf buffet!
Prune any leaves that look discolored or have been affected by pests. Also, harvesting regularly from your plants helps air flow between the leaves and prevents disease.
How to harvest mizuna from your salad garden
Mizuna grows from seed to maturity in just 40 days, but you can begin to harvest leaves as soon as your plant is at least two inches tall.
When harvesting from leafy greens, always take the older, outer leaves and leave the newer leaves in the center of the plant to continue growing. This ensures the plant can keep growing and you can return in several weeks to harvest more. Use clean scissors or pruners.
I prefer the taste of mizuna and arugula leaves for salads when they're smaller and more tender. Larger leaves (about four inches long or so) are still great for other recipes for mizuna like stir fries and soups.
If a plant starts bolting or looking like its time in the garden is over when you still have several months left before frost, pull it and plant new seeds.
Learn more on how to harvest your leafy greens to increase production.
Learn the steps to plant, set up, and grow your own organic salad garden to enjoy fresh greens at least six months each year with Salad Garden School. This course is waiting for you inside your Gardenary 365 membership, along with our complete online gardening courses library.
I hope this incredible little leafy green adds some fresh flavor to your salads and some beauty to your garden. For more, discover our other top picks to grow in the salad garden.
Love from my salad garden to yours!