Mizuna is a tasty Asian green that you can grow in containers, on a windowsill, or in your garden.
With its slightly peppery flavor, similar to arugula, it should come as no surprise that mizuna is part of the cabbage family. Young leaves are used raw, in salads, and mature leaves are lightly cooked in stir-fry and soups. Flowering stems can also be cooked the same ways you might cook broccoli. In Japan, mizuna is also pickled.
Mizuna (Brassica rapa var. niposinica), also known as Japanese mustard, water greens, or spider mustard, is cousin to bok choy, mustard, Napa cabbage, ruby streaks, and turnips. Mizuna is a great addition to salad gardens and stir-fry gardens. It can be grown outdoors in U.S. Hardiness Zones 4 to 9.
This cool season crop looks as good as it tastes. Mizuna grows in a mounding rosette that can be up to 9” high and 18” across. The glossy green leaves are feathery and serrated. Stems are pale green to white. Some specialty varieties even have purple stems! Mizuna flowers look like those of most other cruciferous plants with four yellow petals. Mizuna is a biennial, which means it generally goes to seed in its second year.
How to grow mizuna
Mizuna grows easily from seed. You can start seeds in pots and then transplant seedlings, or sow seeds directly in the ground. In either case, seeds should be covered with 1/4” of soil or vermiculite.
Plants grown to be used while young should be spaced 4” to 6” apart, plants grown for “cut and come again” harvesting should be planted 8” apart, and plants destined to be harvested when mature should be spaced 12” to 16” apart. Keep the soil moist until germination occurs and then water frequently, allowing the soil to dry out between waterings.
Mizuna plants can be grown in full sun or partial shade, as long as they get at least 3 to 4 hours of sunlight each day. They prefer loose, nutrient-rich soil, so you may want to band the area with aged manure or compost at planting time and top dress with fish emulsion or more compost throughout the growing season. Banding refers to incorporating fertilizer or other nutrient sources into the soil on either side of seeds at planting time. Mizuna grows best in soil with a pH of 6.0 to 7.5.
Succession planting can extend your harvest throughout the cooler months. Mizuna will bolt as temperatures rise. If you allow it to go to seed, you will be providing local pollinators and other beneficial insects with pollen and nectar, plus you will get seeds for future crops.
Mizuna pests and diseases
Flea beetles and slugs and snails will pose the biggest threat to your mizuna crop. Aphids and whiteflies may also try feeding on your mizuna. Mizuna is not disease-prone.
Did you know that mizuna is being grown aboard the International Space Station?
Now you know.
You can grow a surprising amount of food in your own yard. Ask me how!
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