Mustard Greens for Organic Potatoes



Mustard greens naturally fight fungal diseases which plague potatoes.

And........... they are very easy to grow and can also be eaten.

Potatoes are very susceptible to fungal diseases. One fungus is called Rhizoctonia solani.

Black scurf is one disease and it causes dark brown to black hard masses on the surface of the forming potato. It doesn't penetrate into the potato but if the potato is used for seed the next season the disease can be carried on.

Stem canker is another disease caused by the fungus. It occurs underground and attacks the germinating sprouts and stems. When this happens the crop will produce weakened plants and uneven stands of plants.

Rhizoctonia diseases are started either by infected seed potatoes or the soil or from plant residue which is already infected from a previous year.

There are many other friendly microbes in the soil and Rhizoctonia doesn't exist well with the carbon dioxide being formed by the decomposition of other plant residue.

Studies being done at Michigan State University are showing that mustard residues release cyanide-containing compounds that fumigate the soil to destroy the fungus while at the same time releasing carbon and nutrients for good soil microbes that can outwit the fungus.

Studies show that the growth of the fungus was slowed by 90 percent in fields where mustard was grown as a cover crop as compared to fields without the mustard.

Mustard can be easily grown in the home garden. Make rows eight inches apart. Plant seeds about half an inch deep and one inch apart. Thin the seedlings to six inches apart when they are three to four inches tall.

Keep the seeds moist and water as necessary.

The greens may be harvested at any time for eating or they may be left in the garden as a cover crop for a potato planting bed the next year.

For more on mustard greens visit:

Author: Marilyn Pokorney
Freelance writer of science, nature, animals and the environment.
Also loves crafts, gardening, and reading.
Email: Current address on website