MUSTARD AND CRESS GONE WILD

This is a story of mustard and cress gone feral while the gardener was looking the other way. In fact the reason for inattention was a bout of ill health which meant that the garden had to be left to its own devices with the natural consequences. The gardener is Gayla Trail and the story is told on her YouGrowGirl blog. The title could equally be “A year in the life of a mustard seed” as Gayla relates her experiences over the season.

The 2014 growing season was a strange one. But then again, aren?t they all? Spring came painfully late, and summer, when it finally arrived, announced its presence in small, anemic spurts. The weather was often cooler than usual, and when it rained, it came down hard and fast, knocking over anything that wasn?t properly staked or tethered.
As I have mentioned (repeatedly), it was a bad year for tomatoes, pumpkins, and anything in want of heat, but the bounty of peas and greens was abundant and very nearly overwhelming. This past month I caught a bad bug that wouldn?t quit. As I sniffed and hacked away the month of September, the garden quietly went feral, turning into a sea of foliage with plants such as callaloo (aka Amaranthus spinosus, a type of Amaranth that is popular in the West Indies) growing taller than me (and then some). Self-seeded mustard popped up around the garden more than ever before and it stuck around a lot longer too. It was a deluge of mustard. And cress (Lepidium sativum). So much cress. Let?s not forget the arugula and mizuna: 2 kinds of each. I had enough bitter and spicy greens to open up a roadside stand. About halfway into spring I embraced the abundance of the season, deciding that I would allow much of the mustard greens to grow to seed rather than pulling it out in early summer as I usually do to be replaced with a heat-loving crop. I often allow some mustard to self-seed for the following year, but decided that it would be an experiment to discover whether or not it is viable to produce my own mustard seed for pickling and cooking.

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