Growing Oriental Green Vegetables

The great thing about Oriental vegetables is that a lot of them are best sown after midsummer, when it's too late to start many of our more usual vegetables. They tend to be quick growing and very nutritious, and can be eaten raw in salads or cooked.

We have a range of Oriental vegetables in our seed swap, so have included their growing instructions below. If you grow any of them, please send photos.

Chinese cabbage (Chinese leaf, Napa cabbage)

These can be sliced and eaten raw in salads, added to stir fry or noodle soup or preserved in kimchi.

Chinese Cabbage Atsuko

From the Organic Catalogue: CHINESE CABBAGE Atsuko

Pale green, barrel shaped, well filled firm heads. Sweet flavoured leaves and good storage ability.

Atsuko is the result of a breeding programme by Kultursaat association to develop an open pollinated Chinese Cabbage variety especially for quality oriented organic and biodynamic cropping.

Sow June to August, harvest August to October. Spacing: 40cm x 30cm. Direct sow and thin to the required spacing.

Chinese Cabbage Granaat

From the Organic Catalogue: CHINESE CABBAGE Granaat

Tall 1.5-2.5kg heads with medium green leaves.

Best cut and eaten fresh, so sow every 14 days through July and August.

Sow June to August, harvest August to October. Spacing: 40cm x 30cm. Direct sow and thin to the required spacing.

Chinese Cabbage Tatsoi

From the Organic Catalogue: CHINESE CABBAGE Tatsoi

There is some confusion as to whether this is a Chinese cabbage or a Pak Choi. A loose headed variety with flat open habit and spoon-shaped dark green glossy leaves.

For boiling, stir fry or salad use. Sow July onwards. Crops well into winter.

Sow July to October, harvest September to December. Spacing: 40cm x 40cm. Direct sow and thin to the required spacing.

Pak choi (bok choy)

This is another group of Chinese cabbage, which do not form heads and have smooth, dark green leaf blades instead, forming a cluster reminiscent of mustard greens or celery. Can be eaten raw, steamed, boiled or sauteed.

Pak Choi Baby Choi

From the Organic Catalogue: PAK CHOI Baby Choi

Half the size of regular pak choi. Dark green slightly savoyed leaves. Good heat tolerance.

Sowing late spring to early autumn.

Sow May to August, harvest July to November. Spacing: 30cm x 30cm. Direct sow and thin to the required spacing.

Pak Choi China Choi

From the Organic Catalogue: PAK CHOI China Choi

Dark green leaves contrast with the thick white stems. Stronger flavour than Chinese Cabbage whether raw or cooked. Very uniform, slow to bolt and has good frost resistance.

Sow June to August, harvest July to November. Spacing: 30cm x 30cm. Direct sow and thin to the required spacing.

Choy sum (Chinese flowering cabbage)

The whole plant is edible - harvest flower shoots and leaves all in a bunch when it starts to flower.

Purple Choy Sum

From the Organic Catalogue: CHOY SUM Purple

Purple stems and leaf ribs, grown for the flowers so no problem if it bolts. Can be used in salads or stir fry.

Sow June to September, harvest August to October.

Sow in drills 60cm apart, thin plants to 15cm. Ready in about 6 weeks.

Japanese greens

Mibuna

From the Organic Catalogue: JAPANESE GREENS Mibuna

A similar mustard flavour to Mizuna but stronger, with strap-like leaves. It usually grows better in moist conditions. Very easy to grow and can be cut four or five times; the new growth is more resistant to frost and cold. Use in stir fry and salads.

Sow outside May to August and under cover September to April. Harvest all year. Spacing: 30cm rows thinly. Make successional sowings at 21 day intervals. Cut when 5-10cm tall, leave to regrow for second cutting.

Mizuna

From the Organic Catalogue: JAPANESE GREENS Mizuna

Large heads of finely dissected leaves. Imparts a slight mustard flavour to stir fry and salads.

Sow outside May to August and under cover September to April. Harvest all year. Spacing: 30cm rows thinly. Make successional sowings at 21 day intervals, in 30cm rows. Cut when 5-10cm tall, leave to regrow for second cutting.

Komatsuna (Japanese mustard spinach)

From the Organic Catalogue: MUSTARD SPINACH Komatsuna

Very vigorous with dark leaves ready one month after sowing. Flavour a cross between cabbage and spinach.

Sow outside March to September. Harvest May to October. Spacing: 15cm x 5cm. Direct sow and thin to the required spacing.

Giant Red Mustard Greens

From the Organic Catalogue: MUSTARD GREENS Giant Red

Leaves deep purple/red in cold weather. May reach 60cm when mature. Sow in late summer for winter use or in spring and cut young leaves to give colour to salads.

Sow outside August to October. Harvest November to January. Spacing: 30cm x 25cm. Sow in late summer and autumn and thin as required. When mature, plant will have basal leaves 30cm wide, 60cm long. Also can be sown in spring (March to May) and the seedlings and young leaves cut for salad (May to July).

Chopsuey Greens (Shungiku, Chrysanthemum Greens)

From the Organic Catalogue: CHOPSUEY GREENS Shungiku

The seedlings and young shoots have a strong aromatic flavour for use in stir fries, salads or cooked like spinach. Slugs seem to leave them alone.

Sow May to July outdoors, and September or February and March under glass to extend the season. Harvest April to October. Cut young shoots when 5-10cm high about 6-8 weeks from sowing. Plants will resprout a few times before flowering. Likes acid soil. If left, will produce lovely yellow flowers.

Related resources

Grow Your Own Vegetables

Excellent book on growing vegetables with sections on techniques, a directory of vegetables, seasonal guide to jobs, and appendices on veg for the hungry gap, successional sowing and more.

How to create a New Vegetable Garden

Charles Dowding draws on his years of experience, to show how easy it is to start a new vegetable garden. Any plot -- whether a building site, overgrown with weeds or unwanted lawn -- can be turned into a beautiful and productive vegetable area. Charles's no-nonsense and straightforward advice is the perfect starting point for the beginner or experienced gardener. The book takes you step-by-step through: * Planning and early stages * Clearing the ground * Mulch - what, why, how? * Minimizing digging * Sowing and planting across the seasons * Growing in polytunnels and greenhouses It is filled with labour-saving ideas and the techniques that Charles uses to garden so successfully, and is illustrated throughout with photos and tales from Charles's first year in his new vegetable garden.

Organic Gardening The Natural No-Dig Way

A very helpful book about growing fruit and vegetables organically and without digging.

Seed sowing techniques

Advice from the Royal Horticultural Society about how to sow seeds