Excerpts from Jim Conrad's
Naturalist Newsletter

from the May 26, 2013 Newsletter issued from the Frio Canyon Nature Education Center in northern Uvalde County, southwestern Texas, on the southern border of the Edwards Plateau, USA
COLLECTING MUSTARD SEEDS

You might remember how during the cold months often I rhapsodized on the glories of meals in which hot cornbread and mustard/turnip greens were the main or only features. Weeks ago my mustard greens turned bitter and bolted, producing big, pretty heads of yellow flowers that hosts of pollinators sought every day. Once the flowers were gone I pulled most of the plants but saved several at the end of one bed for seed. Nowadays that part of the bed looks scroungy enough, as shown below:

mustard green plants gone to seed

Most of the diffuse clutter in that picture consists of dried fruit capsules. A close-up of some bulging with tiny seeds is shown below:

fruit capsules of ripe mustard greens plants

The capsules are easy to dislodge from the plant stems by roughly raking them between the fingers. The capsules' sides easily break away to release the seeds when you roll the capsules between your hands. You can see some split-open capsules and seeds that have collected in a plastic tray held beneath the capsules as they were being maltreated below:

collecting mustard seeds from ripe fruits

Mustard greens seed are cheap enough, but somehow I like the idea of collecting my own, not only for the tradition involved but also to keep in practice for when the infrastructure collapses. Someday I just might be thankful that in a tightly sealed jar in a cabinet someplace I have enough mustard seeds stored up for all the greens I can eat during the cold months.