Chinese Vegetables Cool Weather Crops
Better Called Oriental or Asian

As the snow leaves the garden we start to dream of fresh vegetables again.

There is a group of cool weather plants collectively know as Chinese vegetables that are some of the first to supply this need. This is, of course, a misnomer. Although many of the vegetables lumped into this category by the seed catalogues are grown in China and used in Chinese cooking, the category Oriental vegetables would be a bit closer to being accurate. Korean, Japanese and other Asian countries can also lay claim to these plants. One of the key features of this group of plants is their ability to grow in quite cool conditions. The only thing to beat some of these to my table is Asparagus because it is perennial.

Pak Choi. Pok choi

What Are They? Some of the best early spring crops in this category are:
Guy Lon which looks like a thin non heading Broccoli. It grows into an edible condition in just a few weeks and needs to be cut regularly or it will start to flower. I use at least 20 - 25 cm of the succulent stem and chop it into stir fries or serve it steamed.
Pak Choi (picture right,) in it’s many forms. One catalogue lists five variations. Large white ribbed forms and small green ribbed forms. They all produce similar crunchy stalks that are essential components of many oriental dishes. Chopped and stir fried is the most common method. These plants mature in 30 - 45 days from transplants and will hold in the garden for some time before bolting to flower.
Greens There is a great variety of leafy vegetables in this category that will add greatly to salads and stir fries. Komatsuna (picture below,) is quite prolific, mild tasting and will stand in the garden for a considerable period of time. It is ready to harvest in 35 days. Check the seed catalogues and try many of them; they all add wonderful flavours to soups, salads and meat dishes.

Komatsuna When Do We Grow Them? Most of these crops are cool weather crops that need to be planted in the early spring or again in the late summer so that they may be productive in the autumn. They can be grown from seed sown directly in to the garden as soon as the soil can be worked. Since we like them for their earliness, I start some indoors about four weeks before a possible planting out date. They germinate and grow quite quickly.

How Do We Start Them Most of these plants are part of the cabbage family and they will germinate in less than a week. It is important to keep an eye on them and make sure they have sufficient light or they will quickly stretch. Transplant them into cell packs at the first sign of true leaves and then grow them on, in a cool location. I move mine to the cold frame as soon as possible.

Be adventuresome. Give them a bit of room in a sunny corner and you will be quickly rewarded with a variety of different flavours and textures.

Get Dallying In The Dirt

Regular Tips and Smiles from Ken’s Gardening Activities

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