Most gardeners are or should be getting their vegetable gardens back into production after the hot summer. One very easy to grow plant that is perfect for sowing or planting now is mizuna. Even though it’s used like lettuce, it really belongs to the Brassica genus which also contains cabbage, cauliflower, and kale.
Mizuna has deeply cut almost feathery leaves that can be harvested within weeks of planting, this makes this plant very useful. The leaves are chlorophyll-rich and contain vitamin C, folate and iron. The taste is like mild mustard, I really like adding it to sandwiches instead of lettuce.
Used primarily as a leafy green in salads, it’s surprising to know that it can also be cooked. This plant is popular in stir fries and as an ingredient in soups. You can even just substitute mizuna for cabbage. You could blend it into a pesto or even use it as a topping for a pizza – the uses are endless.
This plant is from China and is now popular throughout temperate climates. It will tolerate very cold conditions, heavy rain and surprisingly it’s pretty good in hot weather. This means we can cultivate it most of the year in our region, though now is the perfect time.
If you’re growing these yourself, sow the seed reasonably shallow (about three times the diameter of the seed). When they’re a decent size they can be transplanted into your vegetable garden. Keep your plants about 15 centimetres apart for good growth. Mizuna is compatible with lettuce and radish and these three great salad ingredients can be grown close together quite easily. If you’re short on garden – mizuna will grow very well in containers.
Other plants that can be grown now include broccoli, Brussel sprouts, carrots, cabbage, cauliflower, spinach, silverbeet, peas and leeks to name a few.
Growing good vegetables isn’t just good luck, you need to prepare your gardens in advance of planting. Make sure you utilise the compost bin, spread your prepared compost onto your garden bed and dig it in. Then turn the soil and hopefully you now have a well-aerated bed that will allow water and oxygen to reach the plant’s roots. If you have poor soil, maybe you should consider preparing some raised garden beds.
Diary: Wodonga TAFE’s Horticulture department is running a half day course on getting ready for pruning. Hosted by Alister Rhook, this course will look at primarily rose and fruit tree pruning, with a look at what to do with summer flowering plants, 9am to noon, Tuesday, May 23. Cost is $50.
Call 1300 MY TAFE (I300 698 233) or email AgHort@wodongatafe.edu.au or call into the Agriculture/Horticulture Department in University Drive, West Wodonga.