Ruby Streaks mustard greens can get to about 1 metre (3 feet) high as it gets to flowering stage; however, the leaves are best eaten when the plant is young.
The whole plant is edible including the flowers and seeds but its main use is in salads to add a little "bite" and "excitement" to the salad bowl. I wouldn't say the taste of the leaves are overpowering and they are certainly nothing like hot English mustard but they do have a slightly more intense flavour than say... your normal garden lettuces.
I was surprised at how easy mustard greens are to grow and particularly the Ruby Streaks variety - we only needed to grow one plant several years ago, let it go to seed, to now have an abundance of volunteer plants come up each year in winter. The plants grow well in clumps but perform better if spaced out about 30cm or 12 inches apart.
In the growing season (winter here in the subtropics) we have so many mustard plants that most are used for poultry feed and what an excellent feed it is for chickens and ducks! The other good animals mustard tends to feed are good insects like hoverflies and bees. One mustard plant in flower is all that's needed in a standard sized garden to provide nectar for hundreds of native and honey bees!
And, just one Ruby Streaks mustard plant left to go to seed is enough to produce hundreds of heirloom seed left to self-sow next season or to collect and sow when required.
Diseases and pests
The plants will occasionally get hit by cabbage butterfly grub and suffer from rust sometimes but if grown in a reasonable environment mustard greens are usually pest and disease free.
Other growing tips
The fact that this plant readily self-seeds and pops up everywhere including competing well with weeds and grasses shows to me it doesn't require any extra special growing care or fertiliser. Naturally, it will grow better if it's given some love in a nice garden bed with freshly made compost and a little nitrogen or seaweed tonic but in all honestly Ruby Streaks will grow well in most places, including part shade.
The only thing stopping me from giving Ruby Streaks mustard 5 stars is how it tastes - not that it's bad at all - just that it's not a big favourite and therefore doesn't get as much household use as other braccias or salad leaf greens get. However, it does grow incredibly easily and our poultry love it!
This plant is definitely worth growing in the home garden to add to salads or cooking and to use as a backup green to fill the gap when other more traditional crops are still developing.
Have a go at it and don't forget to leave it go to seed!
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Ruby Streaks Mustard Greens
- Easy to Grow?:
- Disease & Pest Resistance: