BY PATRICIA BIANCA S. TACULAO

Mustard (Brassica juncea), locally known as mustasa in Filipino, is a common leaf vegetable that’s used in recipes such as ensaladas, stir-fries, and even in pickles or buros. Its leaves are rich in vitamins K and A, calcium, iron, and phosphorus. 

It is ideally grown between September to February in loose soil that’s rich in organic matter to promote healthy growth.

To start, prepare the mustasa seeds for planting. It is highly encouraged to use seed varieties that are recognized to be resistant to pests and diseases. 

Next, prepare the soil media. A good soil mix should consist of carbonized rice hull, vermicast, and compost, with a ratio of 1:1:1. The proper growth of the plant depends on the soil media used which is why it’s important to be rich in nutrients. 

After the soil media has been thoroughly mixed, transfer it into a seedling tray. Then, place one seed in each hole of the tray before watering the soil lightly.

Place the seedling tray in a shaded area. After 10 to 14 days, the plant will start to sprout true leaves. If it has already grown three to four, then seedlings can be transplanted to a different container. 

One possible planter that can be used is a recycled plastic container. To do this, prepare the plastic container by cleaning and cutting it to the desired planter shape. Next, cut holes at the bottom of the makeshift planter to make a drainage system to keep the plant from being submerged in water for a long time. 

Then, prepare the soil media with the same composition and ratio as the one used in the seedling trays. Place the soil in the prepared makeshift planter.

Carefully plant the mustasa seedlings into the new container before placing them in a shaded area again. 

Plant care 

Remember to water the plants two to three times a week if necessary. 

Spraying the plant with fermented plant juice (FPJ) once or twice a week can also help the mustasa plants grow healthy and develop resistance against common pests and diseases.

The common disease for mustasa is downy mildew while known pests that frequent the plants are diamondback moth and cutworm. Luckily, these can be easily controlled using homemade pesticides. 

Make homemade pesticides by mixing one tablespoon of baking soda, dishwashing liquid, vegetable oil each and mix it into one liter of water. Spray the solution onto the affected parts of the plant. 

Pests and diseases can also be prevented by keeping the surrounding area clean. 

After two months since planting, the mustasa leaves can be harvested. One way to tell if they’re good for harvesting is by checking if the stalks are still firm and crispy instead of soft and droopy. 

Once harvested, gardeners can enjoy mustasa in a variety of ways. Plus, they also get to reap the various health benefits such as boosting one’s eye, heart, and immune health that come with consuming the leafy vegetable.

Watch the full video on AgriTalk here.