Thursday, May 24, 2007

What Do You Do With a Mustard Plant?


We have this herb garden that is finally doing well now that it's outside in the sun and balmy weather. It did poorly when it was inside well into the April freeze. We tried to keep turning it around to get even sun but then the herb stems just grew in circles.

Mustard seeds were among those in the seed kit, so we planted them along with the others. Now we've got this big spicy-smelling mustard flower (left), and it has occurred to us that we have no idea what to do with it. I mean, it's the mustard seeds you want, right? So are we supposed to be harvesting seeds out of this thing? Where are the seeds? Will they be sticky or gross in some way? And how many should there be? We clearly have a lot to learn.

So I looked on the ever-useful Web and found this on Looksmart, from Flower and Garden Magazine. Of particular interest:
By midsummer, the plants will be 3 feet high and covered with brilliant yellow flowers. As the flowers fade, seed pods start to form and by August the mature seed pods will be ready for harvest. The pods have an explosive nature when fully ripe and easily burst and scatter seed. To avoid losing valuable seed, harvest when the plants begin to yellow but before the pods become too brittle.
I have been known to eat half a jar of Grey Poupon with my burger and fries, so I am no joke re: the mustard. I have five varieties in the fridge right now. I guess as long as we pay attention and snag the pods before they explode, I could actually make my own. That would rock.

Meanwhile, the second potato plant experiment seems to be going much better than the first. This plant (right) has purple flowers! Very promising. We may end up with some potatoes this year after all. We've also got about 10 red potatoes planted in the dirt in the back yard, but that topsoil was mixed with clay, so it might not be as fertile.

We'll just have to see what happens.

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