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Harvesting Mustard Seeds

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By Erin Sheehan | Jul 31, 2014

I wrote last year about how to make your own mustard. It’s surprisingly easy to do, and I wanted to take it a step further. This year I decided to plant my own mustard so that I could harvest the seeds and use them to make my own mustard. What I didn’t realize, but should have, is just how small mustard seeds are, how laborious harvesting them can be, and how many I’d need to harvest to make this dream a reality!

I grew both yellow and brown mustard in pots on the back porch this year. As a bonus, the greens off the plants were delicious in salads. Spicy, a little hot, a lot like mustard, actually. A little went a very long way.

After the mustard plants bolted and completely went to seed, I had no clue what to do with them so I just left the containers out on the porch, hoping the seeds would mature. Of course, I left them too long and the seed pods started bursting, to the delight of the neighborhood birds. Jim saw them at first eying the plants with interest and ultimately clustering around the plants eating the seeds. Hurry-up, time to harvest! I cut off all the foliage and brought it inside ASAP.

To separate out the seeds, first I rubbed open the seed pods with my fingers – the yellow mustard plant had a prickly seed pod so I had to use gloves. The chaff and the seeds all fell down onto a newspaper I had laid out to catch them. The real difficulty comes in separating the seeds from the chaff. The seeds are miniscule, and it’s hard to remove the chaff without getting the seeds all over the place. Ultimately I resorted to blowing lightly on the whole pile, blowing away most of the chaff and just a few seeds.

In the end what I have is enough seeds to either make a very small batch of mustard this year or to, you guessed it, to plant mustard again next year.

I now realize that to have a large enough crop to actually make mustard, you have to plant a whole lot more mustard than I did.

So this experiment wasn’t a success but it wasn’t a failure either. I loved the mustard greens and the process was enjoyable. I wouldn’t call it cost-effective to grow mustard to make your own mustard, but it’s a fun DIY project anyway!

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