When I first discovered oriental greens some years back and more experienced growers started listing off the various greens in this wonderful family – mustard, mizuna, mibuna, pak choi, bok choi etc – I often wondered whether they were just having a laugh and throwing out made up names for the craic. But no, mizuna and mibuna are in fact a real thing – two very similar but distinct oriental green varieties. We covered mizuna here back in early November – it has a slightly serrated leaf. Mibuna on the other hand has a spear-shaped slender leaf. It is not as vigorous as Mizuna but it has a more interesting and slightly stronger flavour in my view.
Mibuna is easy to grow and tolerates neglect and extreme cold with equal aplomb. It does not tolerate heat in the summer as well as Mizuna does. Mibuna has a refreshing mustard flavour that will bring interest to any salad bowl. Like most oriental greens, Mibuna can be eaten raw in salads or used in stir fries or soups.
You can sow Mibuna direct in the soil or in module trays for later transplanting. I generally sow 5-6 seeds in each module in a module tray and plant out each little cluster of plants 3-4 weeks later. It’s a very reliable germinator (2-3 days). I find the best results from a small regular sowing every 3-4 weeks from February until September. I do a larger sowing in September to last through the winter and early spring. Though larger Mibuna plants will tolerate temperatures up to -10 degrees celsius outside, I generally do my final sowing for the polytunnel (more out of habit than necessity).
Mibuna is a really versatile veg and there are a few different ways to grow it.
Grow it as single plants that are spaced 30cm apart and will grow up to 30cm tall with leaves harvested from it over a long period of time.
Grow it as a ‘cut and come again’ crop - where multiple plants are sown about 10cm apart with the leaves harvested when young.
At some times of the year you can harvest as early as 3 weeks after sowing, particularly when you are growing for ‘cut and come again’ small leaves. As the name suggest with a ‘cut and come’ again crop you can cut it back with a scissors and expect a second, fourth or even fifth crop of delicious leaves. You can either harvest individual leaves by hand-picking, or cut with a scissors down to about 5cm from the soil.
Kyota, Mizuna Purple, Green Spray
It’s a brassica so in theory it should be included in your brassica rotation and can be prone to all diseases that brassicas get - in practice it’s so quick-growing that you don’t get many problems with it at all. Flea Beatle can be an issue on young leaves, during the summer - a fine net or fleece cover will help.
In the summer months, you need to keep it well watered to prevent it from bolting but because I sow it so regularly, I am generally not too bothered if it does bolt (just whip the plants out for composting and replace with new ones).
Mibuna will tolerate semi-shade so ideal for a shady garden.