Brassica – Oriental vegetables

Oriental brassica.  Can be cooked lightly or eaten raw.

  • pak choi – best harvested when semi-mature.
  • komatsuma (mustard spinach) – a good cut-and-come-again crop.  Fairly tender and needs fleece to extend crop in autumn; harvest before frosts.
  • mizuna – a hardier oriental vegetable which can be grown and harvested into early winter under cloches or an unheated greenhouse.

Best sown mid- to late-summer as a late or second succession crop.  When sown in late July or August the plants are less prone to bolting.  (Nearly all oriental brassicas are prone to bolting if sown too early.)

Sow seed thinly in 3/4 inch (1cm) deep rows.  Thin seedlings to one plant per 2 inches (5cm) apart for salad leaves and for larger plants have them 6-12 inches (15-30cm) apart.  Repeat sow every 2 weeks.

With protection you can harvest until late autumn.

Susceptible to suffer leaf damage from flea beetles.

Two sowings may be possible – in July with another in early August, which gives enough time for crops to mature before cold weather.

Keep crops well watered and protected from slugs.

“In ‘Chinese Greens in the garden,’ Nigel Slater writes: Given the right conditions, these brassicas will grow very quickly but I have not found them to be the easiest of tenants. They are greedy, so you need to add manure to the beds the summer before you sow and then be prepared to add high-nitrogen fertiliser as they grow into mature plants. They are very thirsty too, so you can expect to get the watering can out regularly. The young plants have shallow root systems, so like a bit of mulching too, to keep the ground moist as the weather heats up.

I find they respond better to being grown in modules and transplanted when they are a few inches high than they do sown directly into the soil. (I suspect my soil isn’t fine or moist enough for them.) Small coir pots are excellent to get your seedlings going.

The leaves of the small plants are delicate and dislike heavy rain, so growing under cloches is ideal. Sow again in autumn (I put them in after the peas come out), and with luck and a bit of protection they will stand throughout the winter.  …. ” Nigel Slater, Tender; Volume I, p 236.