Description. Black mustard is an annual plant of Brassicaceae family, its wild form can be found in the temperate and tropical regions of Europe, Africa and Asia. The plant has several names: black mustard, French mustard or real mustard.
The stem grows from 30 to 100 cm, erect, branched, scattered-hairy in the lower part together with the leaves, branches are thin. Leaves are pedicellate, green, its flowers are small, collected in thin racemose inflorescences; the petals are of pale yellow or bright yellow color, and the fruits are tetrahedral, erect, pressed against the stem, clearly puffy pods 1-2.5 cm long. The seeds are spherical, of reddish brown or dark brown color, thin-celled, with a diameter of about 1,0-1.6 mm.
The habitat of black mustard is the Mediterranean region. Its wild form can be found throughout Europe and Asia, in the north. Black mustard is cultivated in England, France, Italy, Romania, Turkey, India, China and a number of other countries, but in Russia it does not bred much. Moreover, in the European part of Russia it grows like a weed, preferring banks of rivers and garbage places.
Black mustard is a universal green manure crop. It is useful because it enriches the soil with phosphorus and nitrogen, and also satiates the plant-followers with these necessary minor nutrient elements, nutrifying them at the most important stage of growth. The root system of black mustard perfectly loosens the soil, providing it with the necessary air and water exchange. In addition, it keeps nitrogen in the soil, and its root secretions discourage the May beetle, seedworm and change. Without a doubt, after planting of this green manure crop upon harvesting, you can protect the soil from freezing and keep moisture in it until spring. Growing of black mustard is not difficult, because it is unpretentious to the soil and to environmental conditions. It should be planted observing the distance between the seeds of 100-150 mm, because the green manure crop forms spreading bushes that need space.
Growing of mustard as green manure crop, is not the same as its growing for seeds. Its sowing is possible from March-April to August-September. When green manure crop is sowed around the middle of August, we will get only phytosanitary soil treatment that is protection from the same wireworm, scab, phytophthora. Not so much green mass grows since the middle of August, so soil fertilization will be less. From spring to mid-August, it is sowed about 200-300 g per hundred square meters. From the second half of August - the number of seeds should be increased to 300-400 g per hundred square meters. It should be taken into consideration that such a seed density is necessary to use mustard as a green fertilizer. If it is grown for honey, the number of seeds decreases and the plants themselves do not have to be sowed so tightly.
Sowing of seeds is recommended to a depth of 2-3 cm, after it is necessary to compact the soil (it is better that the seeds are in contact with the ground). If the seeds are simply scattered over the compacted surface, then it is worth covering them with a small layer of mulch.
Flowering begins 4-6 weeks after sowing.
Seeds of this species must be harvested early in the morning, in the evening or even at night.
When sowing to obtain seeds, you should know that in this case it is better to sow in spring and the sowing density must be reduced. Summer sowing will not provide you with the seeds.
Application. Black mustard is used as: nectariferous plant; fertilizer; biological protection against pests and diseases, in cooking and even in folk medicine.
In cooking, it is an indispensable component of many sauces and other dishes. The taste is more spicy and racy than the taste of salad mustard.
Besides it is also the best nectariferous plant among mustards, because its flowers attract many insects-pollinators. The plant is a wonderful "neighbor" for many crops, for example, it stimulates the growth of grapes, beans and fruit trees.
Green manure crop is good in crop rotation with grain crops, and it is also an ideal precursor for potatoes (as it struggles with wireworm, scab and late blight), for tomatoes and other Solanaceae family plants.
Black mustard is very useful for normalizing digestion and improving metabolism, it increases appetite, increases the secretion of gastric juice, increases digestibility of food. Seeds of black mustard have strong bactericidal properties and neutralize the pathogenic microflora in the gastrointestinal tract. It is known about the use of mustard when losing weight, it is able to split fats.