Mizuna & mibuna
Mizuna is a Japanese leafy vegetable that grows as a large rosette of feathery leaves. These have a peppery, cabbage flavour, and can be used raw in salads or cooked in stir-fries. The young flowering stems can be cooked like broccoli. Mibuna is similar to mizuna, but with a stronger, light mustard flavour. Use the leaves in salads or as a side dish when lightly cooked and seasoned.
Jobs to do now
- Sow seeds outdoors
- Thin out plants
- Plant out module-raised plants
- Harvest leaves as required
- Water regularly
Month by month
Sow seeds outdoors from March to August, in the ground or in containers, in an open, sunny position. Mizuna and mibuna are tolerant of cool, damp conditions, and even prefer some shade in summer.
Earlier sowings can be made in February in a greenhouse in pots or modules. These can be planted out from March onwards, after hardening off to acclimatise them to outdoor conditions. Plants can also be grown in a greenhouse during winter.
Both mizuna and mibuna do best in moist soil, so dig in well-rotted manure or garden compost before sowing or planting out, to help the soil retain moisture. Dry conditions can cause plants to bolt (flower) prematurely – early sowings are less likely to bolt, but avoid sowing in cold conditions.
For a continuous supply of leaves, sow small batches regularly.
Thin out the seedlings along the row to prevent overcrowding. Spacing between plants depends on which stage you want to harvest them:
10–15cm (4–6in) apart for regular pickings of small leaves
20cm (8in) apart for harvests of larger leaves
30–40cm (12–16in) apart for picking full-sized mature plants
Both mizuna and mibuna dislike extreme heat and dry conditions, which can cause stunted growth or bolting (premature flowering). So water regularly in dry spells and provide some light shade in summer.
Mizuna and mibuna can be harvested all year round from repeated sowings, either as cut-and-come-again crops or as whole rosettes.
With cut-and-come again harvesting, you pick just a few outer leaves from each plant, so it continues to grow, providing several small harvests. You may get up to five pickings from a plant before it starts bolting (flowering).
Alternatively, you can just harvest the whole rosette, using a sharp knife, after about six to eight weeks.
Eat immediately for the best flavour.
Slugs and snails
These feed on the young seedlings and you'll see the tell tale slime trail on the soil around your crop, as well as on the leaves.
There are many ways to control slugs and snails, including beer traps, sawdust or eggshell barriers, copper tape and biocontrols.
Plants flower and set seed prematurely.
Unless growing for seed sow bolt-resistant varieties. Sow or plant at the correct time and keep the soil or compost moist.
Leaves are covered in small holes and damaged areas turn brown. Seedlings are particularly susceptible.
Grow plants under horticultural fleece and keep the soil moist. Water in nitrogen-rich fertilser to help the crop outgrow the pest.
The Royal Horticultural Society is the UK’s leading gardening charity. We aim to enrich everyone’s life through plants, and make the UK a greener and more beautiful place.