Grow Your Own Food is an information series on Gardening in Canada that covers every aspect of growing your own food at home. I help you every step of the way so that you can have the garden you dream of. This series was originally written for and published on Food Bloggers of Canada.
Some of my very favourite greens are the specialty ones not always available my small town grocery store. Things like Bok Choy, Chinese Cabbage, Gai lan, and Diakon. The great news is that they are all easily grown at home. In fact, they are cool weather loving crops so that makes them perfect for all Canadian gardens. In areas where it is warmer these crops can be grown in early spring and late fall.
Here are 5 Asian Vegetables you can start growing in your Canadian garden.The care and growth are quite similar for all though some have longer days to harvest so plan accordingly. All varieties in this article can be grown in cool or shady areas of your yard and garden.
How to Grow Bok Choy
Bok Choy is part of the Brassica family, that makes this a cool weather loving crop. You can start them early in the spring, plant seed directly in the garden as soon as the risk of frost has passed. Cooler areas of the garden and partially shaded areas are great spots to plant.
Be sure to work the soil well and add amendments like peat moss and compost to the planting area. Space seeds about 10 – 15 centimeters apart in rows and space rows one foot apart. If starting seeds indoor, you can start them in April. Seedlings can be moved into the garden during the last week of May. Bok Choy can tolerate light amounts of frost.
For a continual harvest throughout the season do succession planting every two weeks. Most varieties are ready to harvest 45 – 60 days after planting.
How to Grow Chinese Cabbage
Chinese Cabbage or otherwise known as Napa Cabbage is part of the Brassica family, which make this another cool weather loving crop.
Much like Bok Choy, Napa Cabbage can be direct seeded into the garden early in Spring as soon as the risk of frost has passed. You can find your Frost date information in an earlier post where we look at the frost dates for our areas. If you choose to start seeds indoor you can start them in April and move the seedlings out to the garden during the last week of May.
Space plants about 30 centimeters apart. For a continual harvest for the season do succession planting every 2 weeks.
Most varieties are ready for harvest 55 – 95 days after direct seeding.
How to Grow Gai lan
Gai lan or Chinese Broccoli/Chinese Kale is another cool weather loving vegetable. Gai lan prefers to be direct seeded into the garden. Plant after the risk of frost has passed. Be sure to work the soil well adding amendments like peat moss and compost. Space seeds 5 cms apart. Do succession planting every 2 weeks to assure a season long harvest.
Most varieties are ready for harvest 50 – 55 days after planting. Harvest the stalks and leaves when the plants are up to 20 cms tall.
How to Grow Tah Tsai
TahTsai or Chinese Savory/Spinach Mustard is another of the Brassica family. This cool weather loving crop prefers to be direct seeded into the garden after the risk of frost has passed. Work the soil well in the planting areas adding amendments like peat moss and compost. Space seeds approximately 15 cms apart. For a continuous harvest succession plant weekly.
Tah Tsai is ready to harvest 25 – 40 days after direct seeding.
How to Grow Daikon Radishes
While Daikon Radishes are another cool weather loving crop, though will tolerate some warmth. Where it gets very warm in the summer months it is best to grow Daikon in the early spring and fall.
Growing Daikon Radishes is similar to growing traditional radishes though Daikons needs more room to grow and time to harvest is longer them smaller radish varieties.
Direct seed into the garden, spacing seeds 6 inches apart. Plants are harvestable 60 – 70 days after direct seeding.
The Diakon radishes I grew this were huge and I let the plants go to flower. It turned out to be a spectacular idea and for the first time I harvested the seed pods from the plants. Of course I had to preserve them and naturally pickling was the easy choice. You can read all about these fascinating little power house pods here.