One of the easiest leafy vegetables to grow in the tropical setting are the mustard greens. They can be eaten raw as an alternative to lettuce or spinach for salad, or cooked along with other vegetables. The leaves are rich in vitamins and minerals, and are known to lower cholesterol levels. Mustard greens have limited space requirements and can be grown in full or partial sun, so they are very ideal for urban gardeners.
The taste of raw mustard greens is mildly pungent, similar to radish. They thrive well in containers, with loose well -draining soil. They are ready for harvest in just 6-8 weeks.
Sowing the seeds
Start by sprinkling a few tiny seeds thinly into a medium sized container, ideally at least 8-inches in depth and diameter. They will germinate in just a few days, and as soon as the third leaf appears, thin them down to 2-3 inches apart.
Watering must be done when the soil feels dry, ideally three times a week. During hot dry months, I had to water them daily. Observe the leaves if they tend to wilt especially during the summer season, which means that more water may be needed. I use rice wash when I water them, since the rice wash has a lot of nutrients and can be ideal as organic fertilizer for leafy vegetables like this one. If needed, add compost after about 4 weeks, to ensure more healthy leaves. When they are ready for harvest, just pull them out or cut the base of the leaves just before the roots.
The most common pest problems that I encountered were slugs, locusts and caterpillar. They usually attack the young leaves at the base or the edges of fully grown leaves. Growing mustard greens in pots can help reduce the pest problem, but not totally eliminate them. For me, the best solution is to take the pests out individually. If an organic pest solution is available, spray it once a month on the both sides of the leaves, including the root base of the plant.
Mustard greens are a very good source of nutrients, particularly selenium and magnesium. They are known to reduce the severity of asthma, decrease the symptoms of arthritis and lower blood pressure.