How to Plant, Grow, and Harvest Asian Greens
Cool-season Asian greens are best planted in the last weeks of summer to grow on into autumn and beyond. Try bok choy, mizuna, or Chinese cabbage! These tasty and popular “gourmet” leaves can be rather pricey in grocery stores but they are super easy to grow—and fast growers, especially in cool weather. See how to grow Asian greens!
Early fall, with its often hazy mornings and cooling temperatures, signals change is in the air. Many of summer’s staples are winding down and growth all over the garden is noticeably slower. But if you think it’s time to hang up the fork for winter, well think again – because now’s the moment Asian greens such as bok choy, mustards and mizuna really come into their own.
They are easy to grow and maintain in your garden beds or even in a small pot if you’re looking to save time, space and energy. You might even consider putting these Asian greens around your front yard or along borders, they areas beautiful to look at as they are yummy!
Choosing Aisan Greens
Here are some more of our favorite Asian greens:
Amaranth (aka Chinease Spinach, Hiyu, Callaloo)
- Feel free to swap out this red, green or sometimes striped vegetable for recipes that call for spinach.
Gardland chrysanthemnm (aka Shungiku)
- These cheerful yellow flowers are actually edible!
Komatsuna (aka mustard spinach)
- Looking to add a unique flavor to your scrambled eggs, here’s the plant for you!
- This leaf has a slightly peppery taste, and the flavor only gets stronger as the plant matures.
Mizuna (aka Chinease potherb mustard)
- Although you might think this will have a mustard taste, it’s flavor is actually closer to that of a cabbage.
Sowing Seeds Outside
In late summer (six to 12 weeks before your first fall frost), sow seeds indoors or direct-sow them in the garden if the weather is hot and dry.
- Rake a general-purpose organic fertilizer into the soil before planting.
- Mark out drills about half an inch deep and six to 10 inches apart. Sow seeds thinly along the drills then cover with soil and water well. Once germinated, thin the seedlings in stages to their final spacings – usually six to 12 inches apart, depending on what you’re growing.
Our Garden Planner automatically spaces plants at their recommended minimum spacings, so you know exactly how many plants you can grow in the space you have.
Seeding Inside and Transplanting
Alternatively, sow your Asian leaves into plug trays before transplanting later on. This has the advantage of enabling you to get plants growing while outdoor space is still occupied by another crop, and makes slug damage of tender seedlings less of a problem. Fill plug trays with all-purpose potting soil, firm it down, then sow one or two seeds into each cell. Cover with more potting soil, water them, and keep in a bright spot to germinate. The seedlings will be ready to plant out about four weeks later.
Seed mixes can be sown straight into containers for cut-and-come-again pickings. Scatter the seeds evenly, not too thickly, onto the surface, before covering with more potting soil. The seedlings shouldn’t need thinning.
Plant plug-raised seedlings using a dibber or similar to make the holes, then firm the plants into place. Water well after planting.
It’s important to weed between plants to keep them free of competition, particularly during the colder, darker months of the year. Slugs can be a nuisance; check for them and pick them off after dark, or set up slug traps filled with beer and remove the slugs you trap.
Fork over the soil surface and clear fallen leaves from around plants in early winter. Row covers will prevent pigeons from attacking plants, and will help keep plants growing strongly as winter approaches. Using a greenhouse makes it possible to harvest in all but the very coldest weeks of winter.
Harvesting Asian Greens
Cut through the base of Chinese cabbage or bok choy to harvest the plants whole. Loose-leaved plants such as mizuna can be harvested a few leaves at a time by pinching them off between finger and thumb, or by snipping them with a pair of scissors. Make sure enough leaves remain for the plant to recover. When warmth returns in spring, overwintered plants will starting growing again, providing more harvests before eventually bolting.
How to cook Asian greens? Stir-fry with garlic, blanche in oyster sauce, or serve in a wonderful broth! Start adding these health greens to your suppers. Here are two delicious dinner recipes:
Ready to get started growing?
Our Almanac Garden Planner will automatically calculate your sowing dates, your plant spacing, and more. Plus, you’ll get a free printable calendar with planting and harvesting dates that fit you.
For new gardeners, we are offering a free 7-day trial to encourage all to try drawing out their first garden plot!