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Planting Tomatoes in Mustard

June 1st, 2016

Last week we traveled to Ohio to visit family and friends. That meant that two weeks ago I was madly planting all my trays of seedlings and hoping we’d get rain while we were gone. Even though our last frost date wasn’t past, I had to plant my tomatoes and peppers. The area I’m using for them this year is a second season bed. Pigs worked up the soil two summers ago and last summer I planted it in a variety of cover crops. This spring I seeded it with mustard to fumigate the soil in preparation for nightshade crops.
mustard cover crop around tomatoes 3
The mustard was only a few inches tall when I planted my tomatoes and peppers, so I just pulled up a small circle and planted the tomatoes directly into the cover crop.
mustard cover crop around tomatoes 2
When I arrived home, the mustard had grown and was starting to flower, most of it was about a foot tall. The tomatoes and peppers were still growing slowly inside their sheltered growing areas. The mustard would have given them a small amount of protection from a late frost if we had had one.
mustard cover crop around tomatoes 1
Yesterday I pulled the mustard and simply laid it around the tomatoes and peppers as a mulch. When it dries I’ll cover it with a layer of compost which will protect the soil, feed the crops throughout the summer, and maintain moisture throughout the heat of summer. The mustard is said to help fumigate the soil of pathogens, particularly those that affect nightshade crops. I also seeded it in the area that I will be planting my potatoes. I’ve been doing this for years and it seems to be working well for me. Mustard it probably my favorite cover crop, I use it all the time.

What’s your favorite cover crop?

The Benefits of Mustard in the Garden

July 9th, 2012

“The advantage of sowing mustard are that it disinfects and regenerates the soil, it stimulates the life of the soil and curbs nematodes, especially potato root eelworm, which is why it is so useful to sow the seed. It gives the feared nematodes very little chance in the garden. Its effect on all plant life, including the crucifers, is not negative but positive.”

Gertrud Franck (Companion Planting: Successful Gardening the Organic Way)

‘Idagold’ mustard is what is used here at Chiot’s Run. A large bag was purchased from Johnny’s Seeds last spring and now it’s sown whenever I have bare soil that won’t be planted for a month.

Mustard is said to help suppress weed growth and providing a living mulch. That’s one reason I use it, I have had pretty good luck using it this spring/summer so far. I like to let mine grow to about six inches tall then I pull it and use as a mulch around the larger main crops like zucchini and potatoes.

I also overseed the areas where I plant potatoes. The book Managing Cover Crops Profitably, extols the benefits of mustard for mitigating lots of potato problems including blight. I let the mustard grow to about 6 inches then it’s pulled, laid around the potato plants and covered with straw.
Idagold Mustard
Another benefit of mustard is that it’s easy to pull and doesn’t really self-sow much or become invasive (at least not the yellow variety I grow). Mustard will also winter kill in areas with cold winters, making it a perfect fall cover crop for a nicely prepared and mulched spring planting area.

I’d highly recommend looking into a few cover crops for your small garden. Not only will you increase the health of the soil, you’ll save money by growing your own mulches. You can find a cover crop that will suit just about any need you have, from weed suppression and soil building to disease mitigation. I’d highly recommend starting with mustard, it’s a great initiation in to the cover crop world.

Do you use companion planting methods in your garden?

For more reading on cover crops in the garden, I’d highly recommend these books:

Making Your Own Whole Grain Mustard

June 7th, 2011

I posted my recipe for Whole Grain Stout Mustard on the Your Day blog at Ethel so head on over there. If you remember I talked about my love of condiments one Friday. Of all the condiments mustard is my favorite. I love a good hearty whole grain mustard, but they can be pricey in the store. Making your own is quick and easy.

I get my organic mustard seeds from Mountain Rose Herbs in case you’re wondering, they’re inexpensive and you can buy in bulk. People will certainly be impressed when you take homemade mustard to the next cookout you attend.

Head on over to the Ethel Blog and tell me what your favorite condiment is.

Reading & Watching

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This is a daily journal of my efforts to cultivate a more simple life, through local eating, gardening and so many other things. We used to live in a small suburban neighborhood Ohio but moved to 153 acres in Liberty, Maine in 2012.