Must Have Mustards!

fall gardens mustards growing through the winter

In fall gardens, mustards are a must! These leafy greens will become a beloved part of your vegetable garden, sprouting quickly in the cooler fall weather, lingering though mild winters or under colder climate row covers, and seeing you through to a spring flourish. There are several ways to enjoy this plant in your garden-to-table life; their peppery flavor imparted through sprouts, leaves, and flowers will wake up meals in a variety of ways.

Jesus Mentions Mustard Seeds

in fall gardens mustards begin to sprout

Sprouts – Sow a whole packet of seeds, even if you just have room for a handful of mature plants. Begin thinning the sprouts in six to ten days—by cutting tender stems; resist the urge to pull them up, to prevent uprooting the seedlings to remain. Toss sprouts into salad, top off a sandwich, speckle a side dish of cooked grains, or simply add as garnish to a festive fall plate.

Jesus mentions mustard seeds multiple times, in three out of four gospels: that’s attention-getting! I was drawn to plant them once I started the devotional essay writing for God’s Word for Gardeners Bible, even though at the time I didn’t keep a vegetable garden. Curiosity overcame me and I wanted understand his constant reference…so I could say that the Lord talked me into becoming an edible gardener!

When it comes to mustards seeds, I have explored, discovered, and chronicled their beckon to begin a vegetable garden (see Bringing Forth Food from the Earth), the delights of Jesus’ hyperbole (see A Most, Best Christmas Gift), his message of possibility (see The Lord’s Possibilities: Planting Mustard), and his all-out whim for this plant in poetry (see Growing Mustard in Rhyme and Meter).

Yet this season, as I return to sowing mustard seeds, I see a new, elemental nuance in His Word.

God’s kingdom is like the seed of the mustard plant. A man plants this seed in his garden. The seed grows and becomes a tree. The wild birds build nests on its branches.
Luke 13:19 ICB

Leaves – Allow plants to grow and mature about 6 inches apart, cutting a few leaves from several plants for each meal, depending on your plans. Filling out a salad blend? Cut the newly formed leaves from the center of the plant. Sauteeing or steaming warm greens? Take bigger, more mature leaves, and dice bite-size before cooking. Making bone broth? Clip the older, leaves, even with an insect bite or two, and let their flavor and nutrients boil, bubble, and enhance your soothing soups. Though plants will grow at a slower pace through December and January, the return of light as February warms will revitalize plants

This simple, few-sentence story can be understood as a description of God’s movement from Abraham to Jesus to us, dear gardeners, a history or inherency of the kingdom of God. Abraham, famous for his faith—

So those who rely on faith are blessed along with Abraham, the man of faith.
Galatians 3:9 NIV

—is the man; the mustard seed is Abraham’s faith (faith as a mustard seed); and the tree that ‘grew and became’ is Jesus. Among many metaphors, Jesus is portrayed in the anatomy of a tree, as a root (Isaiah 11:10, Revelation 5:5, 22:16) and branch (Jeremiah 23:1, 23:5, 33:15), and his sacrifice for us took place on a tree (1 Peter 2:24). He offered himself as a place to live—

Live in me. Make your home in me just as I do in you.
John 15:4 The Message

—making the wild birds of the story us, the ones who come to “build nests;” that is, live out our lives and livelihoods, in Jesus, in his shelter and protection.

Live under the protection of God Most High and stay in the shadow of God All-Powerful.
Psalm 91:1 CEV

We are told the detailed lineage from Abraham to Jesus in Matthew 1. Yet the relationship of elements in this story, man-seed-tree-birds-nests, describes the journey of this lineage toward living in the shelter of Jesus’ salvation. WOW! Such is the beauty and glory that unfolds in knowing God’s Word from the garden…in sowing God’s Word in the garden…new revelation of layers of meaning and depth of detail is what we continue to see and dig into…always something new to see!

mustard plants gone to flower

Flowers – Spring’s warmth and light will cause mustards to “bolt,” sending up tall, central stalks of flowering branches. At this point, greens will become lackluster, and more likely succumb to infestation, yet the dainty flower blossoms belong at the table! They are bright additions to bouquets and edible. Like their sprouts, trim individual flowers and decorate salads, sandwiches, and side plates with their beauty.

See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it?
Isaiah 43:19 NIV
And He that sat upon the throne said, “Behold, I make all things new.”
Revelation 21:5 KJV

He makes all things new! This favorite old Word divulges new dimension, a view I had not seen until now, His appointed time to perceive it.

Wake Up to a New Year

Mustard’s wake-up flavor, its peppery bite, far more interesting—if not alarming— than other cool season greens like lettuce and spinach, is a perfect pairing with the garden-faith life this month. The seeds come to life with the cool-down of September’s advance toward autumn; simultaneously, September revitalizes celebration with Israel’s fall feasts, beginning this week with the wake up trumpet blast of Rosh Hashanah, or Feast of Trumpets, the Jewish New Year.

Jeanne Nigro, of Jeanne Nigro Ministries, reveals, “The theme of Rosh Hashanah is “wake up”…to blow the trumpet or shofar…” as commanded in Leviticus 23:23-25.  Her calling is to wake us up to the spiritual battle all around us and to see the unseen.

Listen to the “wake up” aspects of the Feast of Trumpets in Jeanne Nigro’s Wake Up Call,

aith as small as mustard seed

Gods Word for Gardeners book in mustard greens

Read more on mustard in the devotions on Jesus’ Horticultural Parables in God’s Word for Gardeners Bible, in the Garden Stories section, pages a-44 & a-45

Garden in Delight gate logo


Find more garden-to-table information on growing mustard in our Plant Guide:


Click for a complete list of blogs on mustard

Photo Credits
©2016-2018 Shelley S. Cramm

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