Greens come in different varieties ranging in color, texture, and shape of leaves. These varying types of greens come from different regions of the world, including Asia, Africa, and the Southeastern US. Most greens grow best in moist, rich soil. To prepare the soil for planting, spread compost over the planting area, about 3” thick. Carefully turn the compost into the ground with a digging fork, loosening the soil.
With a few exceptions like molokhia, amaranth, and summer spinach, all other varieties of greens (sold by Sow True Seed) thrive in cooler temperatures and do not grow well in summer. Aim to start seeds about four weeks before the last frost. Fall plantings can tolerate frost, which actually contributes to a sweeter flavor to the greens.
Plant seeds just under the soil, about a half an inch apart. Once the seedlings sprout and grow their first leaves, thin them to about 8-12” apart. Your baby greens are delicious, eat your thinnings!
Keep soil moist as they grow, at least an inch of water per week. Greens can be eaten at any stage, for cut and come again harvesting, pull a few leaves at a time from the outside of your plants and allow the main plants to continue to grow. When the plants are fully mature, you should cut the whole head at the base with a sharp knife.
Your spring plantings will likely get bitter and/or bolt in the heat of summer, so harvest before that time and use the garden space for something else.
Mizuna Greens, Brassica rapa
Pollination, insect; Life Cycle, annual; Isolation Distance, ½ mile
Mizuna will not cross with other Brassicae besides Brassica rapa. The seed pods mature from the bottom upwards and shatter easily, so it's best to cut the whole plant just before maturity and hand to dry in a cool, dry place. When whole plant is crispy-dry, thresh the seeds and winnow to clean.
Can you cook mizuna?
Yes! In fact, cooked is the most common way mizuna is eaten in its native Japan. Just a quick sautee or wilting in a hot soup will do - these delicate greens cook quickly and will turn mushy if overcooked.
Is mizuna a type of lettuce?
No - though mizuna is often used as a salad green like lettuce, it is a type of mustard greens, Brassica rapa. Lettuce (Lactuca sativa) generally has a milder flavor, and a different life cycle as a plant.
How should I store mizuna?
After it is harvested, mizuna should be washed and stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator. If harvested in peak condition and well washed, homegrown mizuna can last in the fridge as long as two weeks!
My mizuna is already bolting! Can I eat mizuna flowers?
Yes, actually! Some people use the flower stalks of bolting mizuna similarly to sprouting broccoli. (Broccoli is, after all, also a Brassica flower stalk.) Expect a spicier, stronger flavor than the broccoli you're used to though.