Now for New Year's Day Celebrations Plant Year-round for Every Day Use
Commonly planted to be used for New Year's Day feasts
by local Japanese, mizuna (pronounced meezuna) is a plant well suited
to year-round production in local vegetable gardens. But if you want
to have mizuna for January 1 you need to plant seed soon - it takes
40 to 60 days to grow to maturity.
The scientific name for mizuna is Brassica rapa
var. nipposinica or var. japonica. It is closely related
to the leafy turnips. Other common names are Japanese mustard, kyona,
mizuna mustard, and pot herb mustard. In Japanese mizuna means "water/juicy
vegetable." It probably is native to China but it is best known
as a Japanese vegetable. It has been grown and used in Japan since ancient
Mizuna is really a pretty plant. It forms a rosette of leaves that are
usually a light to dark green color with a white midvein. The leaves
are finely divided and feathery, looking something like fern fronds.
The leaf stalks are relatively short and slender, white and juicy. The
clumps get about 9 inches tall and can spread to a diameter of 18 inches.
is naturally a vigorous, healthy plant, growing back readily after cutting.
Mature heads of older varieties can weigh a little more than 2 pounds,
but newer varieties can weigh up to 13 pounds.
Mizuna is both cold- and heat-tolerant, making it perfect as a salad
crop in Hawai'i, growing well at all elevations in all seasons. It can
tolerate wet conditions, doing well in Hawai'i's wet winters. It is
not quite as tolerant of drought conditions, but with regular irrigation
and the use of mulch, it grows equally well during the summer months.
In dry conditions it ma y go to seed prematurely or produce very tough
Full sun is best for mizuna in the winter months, but
in summer it Mizuna can tolerate some light shade. It is tolerant of
a wide variety of soils as long as the fertility is fair and the moisture-holding
capacity is fair to good. Water often enough to keep the soil moist
or use mulch to decrease the amount of watering you need to do.
Mizuna can be harvested as seed-lings, as semi-mature and as mature
plants. It responds well to cut-and-come- again treatment - removing
all the leaves for culinary purposes and allowing the plant to grow
new leaves. Sow seeds directly into the garden or start plants in pots
or cell packs for future transplanting to the garden. It takes about
two to three weeks for seedlings to grow large enough for transplanting.
You can plant any time of the year but if you are planting
with the intent of using the crop for New Year's Day celebrations, you
should plant in the first two weeks of November. Given proper care,
a good crop will be ready by January 1.
If you only want small plants, space the plants about
4 inches apart. For medium-sized plants that will be cut frequently,
space the plants 8 to 9 inches apart. To get larger plants, space the
plants 12 to 18 inches apart.
Plant mizuna among other crops if you practice intercropping
methods in your garden. It works very well with other brassicas such
as broccoli and cauliflower, since it can be harvested while those plants
mature. In the summer, use mizuna between rows of corn. After the corn
has been harvested, the mizuna can continue to be harvested for several
Mizuna lends itself quite well to growing in pots. Choose a pot size
depending on the size you
want your plant to grow. A 4- inch pot is adequate for small plants
but to allow the plant to
grow to its potential, use a 1-gallon pot or larger. One plant per gallon
pot will produce
enough leaves for several salads a month. Use more plants for more production.
to keep the soil moist and place the pot in full sun or in partial shade.
Mizuna can be harvested and eaten at any stage. Even the flower spikes
are edible. It has a mild flavor with a touch of spiciness. The younger
leaves are the most tender, older leaves eventually getting fibrous.
Use mizuna in salads as an addition to lettuce leaves,
or even as a replacement. Use freshly cut
leaves as a garnish to brighten up a dish. Cook mizuna as you would
other oriental vegetables.
It can be stir-fried alone or with other vegetables or meat, poultry
or fish. Mizuna can be used as a stuffing for chicken, fish or seafood.
When cooking mizuna, keep in mind that the stalks take
a little longer to cook and should be separated from the main leaf and
cooked a little longer.
Mizuna can also be pickled. To pickle mizuna wash the
leaves and tap dry or spin in a salad
spinner. Sprinkle a bowl with salt and cover with a layer of leaves.
Sprinkle salt over them and add another layer of leaves, sprinkle with
more salt and repeat until all the leaves are used up. Sprinkle salt
on top and weigh down. Use a plastic bag filled with water as a convenient,
form-fitting weight. Let sit for 12 hours. Don't let it sit for longer
than 12 hours or the flavor will be ruined.
Mizuna is quite ornamental, as well as being a useful vegetable. In
a flower bed it makes a nice
border, the cushion of fern-like foliage making a nice contrast to taller
flowering plants. A mass
planting of mizuna makes an attractive and useful groundcover. It won't
handle foot traffic, but
can easily fill an area in a short amount of time. Mizuna also works
well as a border along
walkways. Potted plants can be placed in ornamental cache pots and used
as accent plants to a
Mizuna grows very fast. The first harvest can be done in 2 to 3 weeks.
This initial harvest consists of thinnings taken to make room for larger
plants. After that, harvest the outer leaves as
needed if you have several plants, or in two months cut the plant back
to harvest all the leaves at once. Make sure you don't cut below the
growing point, or the plant will be killed. Cut the leaves just above
the growing point and in two more months you can repeat the process.
This can be repeated up to five times over about 10 months time.
Mizuna is basically free of pests but it is very tasty to slugs. Protect
young seedlings and recently cut plants from slugs.The plants are also
susceptible to flea beetles (Systena blanda, Epitrix hirtipennis and
others). You can keep flea beetles off your mizuna with woven cloth
crop covers, or catch the beetles on grease-covered boards. Control
a flea beetle infestation with derris,
pyrethrum or insecticidal soap.