Growing Asian Greens in Your Garden

Keen gardeners and food growers are often looking to expand the range of edible plants that they grow. There are plenty of ways to branch out beyond the potatoes and carrots, broccoli and peas, lettuce, tomatoes and radishes. If you enjoy your salads and stir fries, you could consider growing a wider range of leafy vegetables. There are plenty of different Asian greens,for example that you could grow.


Why Grow Asian Greens?


A number of green vegetables that originate in Asia and which form an important part of Asian cuisines can also grow well right here in the UK. In this article we will explore some of the many green, leafy vegetables that you could consider adding to your repertoire.


But before we go on to consider the different options, it is worthwhile taking a quick look at why we should grow Asian greens in this country. The reasons why growing them is a good idea include:


  • Such greens are often easier (or as easy to grow) as more familiar lettuce and leafy brassica crops.
  • They are often hardy, and can be grown over winter, or to provide food for the hungry gap.
  • They can sometimes be more resilient to pests and diseases than some lettuces and other crops.
  • They can enliven your diet and open up your home-grown menu with a wide range of new recipe ideas.


Which Asian Greens Could You Grow?


There are a wide range of green vegetables that are common in Asian cuisines. However, below are details of just five of the options that gardeners could consider for growing in the UK:


Pak Choi (Brassica chinensis)


Pak choi,or bok choi is a family of crops that will grow well in any moisture retentive soil. It must be kept relatively cool and moist or the leaves will lack flavour and plants may bolt and will be more prone to disease. Mulch, provide shade and water well, especially during warmer periods. Bolt resistant varieties are available but most pak choi are best sown before or after the hottest part of the year, either just after the last frost date in your area or later in August for a late-season crop. Bolt resistant varieties can be sown any time between April and August.


Napa Cabbage (Brassica pekinensis)


Chinese cabbage, as it is sometimes known, is another member of the Brassica family, and also grows well in medium heavy soils with reasonable water and nutrient retention. These cabbages can also be grown in the UK and different varieties can be sown and harvested almost all year round. It can be sown successionally, for cut and come again crop or as mature,hearted heads.


Mizuna


Asian greens such as mizuna and mibuna are the perfect additions for your polytunnel, ideal for salads and stir fries. Mizuna has cut and come again leaves with a distinctive peppery, cabbage flavour.

Mibuna


Mibuna, slightly stronger tasting than mizuna, has a mustard-like kick. Both mibuna and mizuna can be perfect for addition to a a more mild selection of leaves in salads or quickly cooked dishes. both offer good value as cut and come again crops and can be planted on a regular succession for a year-round supply. Winter crops may need a little extra protection from the cold in more northerly reaches of the UK but should be a valuable green food source when few other plants will be available.


Amaranth Greens


Amaranth, sometimes grown for its seed, can also be a source of greens, which are widely used in some parts of Asia. If you want a leafy green that also offers seeds that can be used as a grain then amaranth could be a good value choice.