- Author: Florence Nishida
Photos by Florence Nishida
What is there not to like about Osaka Purple Mustard? Nothing! Delicious and unique in flavor, highly productive, and beautiful, it has been in my garden for years.
Is it easy to grow? Yes! A few seeds dropped on the earth, and it almost plants itself while your back is turned. From last spring or summer's crops, new plants quickly turn up in Jan/Feb (or even October!). It germinates well, and grows happily even in clay soil. As an open-pollinated plant which self-sows easily, once planted, it will reliably be part of your garden forever.
Is it pretty? No, it is gorgeous! It has stunning, huge (15” or more in length), billowy, savory-textured, striking deep violet-purplish and green leaves with lime-green veins and stems. The whole plant looks like an enormous bouquet of deep, rich colors.
Does it get pests? No! This is the most pest-free vegetable in the garden – no aphids, no Bagrada bugs(!), no grasshoppers, and rarely, the Cabbage butterfly larva. The hot flavor is likely a deterrent to plant chewers.
Is it tasty? Easy to cook? Yes! If you love chillies, you will love Osaka Purple. After a 3 second lag, a bite of the raw leaf will heat your mouth with a Wasabi-like taste, but with more flavor. A generous leaf, folded in half, layered into a hamburger, ham sandwich, or shredded into egg or tuna sandwich, will enliven the sandwich, making yellow mustard unnecessary. Tossed in a green salad, it provides zing and color. Strangely, when cooked, the hot flavor becomes a milder, mustard-green taste and makes a great addition to braises with other greens, pork, chicken, or beef. In Asia, it is frequently made into tasty pickles.
Does it last long? Yes! In my garden this year, I harvested for 12 months, as seeds self-sowed. And any given plant will grow from October/November into spring and into late summer. Harvest in the cut/grow again manner, where you snap off the largest leaves, and keep new leaves continuously growing.
- Author: Uma Nicole, Master Gardener
Do keep in mind you may face challenges when creating a green space during the Coronavirus pandemic:
1. Seeds are harder to come by, so look for seed exchange groups such as the Seed Library of Los Angeles through local social media groups. You can exchange at a safe distance and still socialize with other plant lovers.
3. Take an online gardening course. Although it is not the same as learning to be a better gardener in-person, there are plenty of masterclasses and recordings online to help you create the Urban Zen corner of your dreams.
Master Gardeners are a great resource when it comes to all things growing and green. We are seeing more and more how time with nature is taking newcomers to places where they too can destress and think more clearly. I hope you find your creative process and Urban Zen corner to be a way of getting through the multiple stresses of these difficult times. Stay safe, stay active, love your neighbor, and create peace with every step.