Asian greens are among the easiest of all vegies to grow and they mature quickly, so the benefits seem almost instant. Favourites such as wong bok, pak choy and tatsoi are packed with vitamins, too, and they’re marvellous to have on hand for tossing into salads, stirfries and soups.
GROWING FROM SEED
The best way to grow Asian greens is from seed. They germinate readily and, if you pop a few seeds in every three weeks or so, you’ll enjoy a steady supply. Here’s how to go about it.
Find a spot in the garden that gets plenty of sun. Remove any grass and weeds and dig the soil over well, incorporating compost and
organic fertilisers like blood and bone and pelletised poultry manure. Once your soil has a lovely friable consistency, rake the surface smooth with a steel rake and water it well. Then use the
handle of your rake to make shallow rows about 5mm deep and 200mm apart. Sow your seeds directly into the drills. Don’t worry if you sow them too thickly they can be thinned out later. Cover your
seeds with a thin layer of soil or sand and gently water them in with a fine spray from the hose.
Keep the soil moist and your seedlings should appear in about five days. Excess seedlings can be thinned out and transplanted
to other parts of the garden. Aim for a final space of 200mm between plants.
Asian greens like to grow quickly, so water them regularly and give them a weekly feed with liquid fertiliser. Lay some organic mulch
between the rows to reduce moisture loss and weeds.
Keep this up and your Asian greens will be ready to harvest in just 6-8 weeks. With some varieties, you can simply pick off a few leaves
as you need them. It’s that easy!
WHAT TO LOOK FOR
There are lots of different Asian greens to discover, each with its own unique form, flavour and texture. Most seed companies
offer a good selection, but for the greatest choice try seed displays found in Asian supermarkets.
Wong bok (Chinese cabbage)
Fleshy, succulent, overlapping leaves that form a tight, dense head. Leaf blade has a light, peppery taste while the thick central
stem is sweet, juicy and crunchy.
Pak choy (Chinese white cabbage)
A non-heading Chinese cabbage with dark green, slightly ruffled leaves and exaggerated white stem. Harvest all at once or leaf by leaf.
Gai laan (Chinese broccoli)
Grown mainly for its flower buds, which are a bit like broccoli. The buds are borne on long, thick, succulent stalks that can be
chopped and steamed or stirfried.
Tatsoi (Chinese flat cabbage)
Leaves are short, spoon-shaped, dark
green and waxy with a mild, sweet flavour.