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Southern SAWG - Producing Asian greens for market - Pam Dawling

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Producing Asian Greens For Market — There are many varieties of tasty, nutritious greens that grow quickly and bring fast returns. Led by long-time producer and author of the new book, Sustainable ...

Producing Asian Greens For Market — There are many varieties of tasty, nutritious greens that grow quickly and bring fast returns. Led by long-time producer and author of the new book, Sustainable Market Farming, this session will cover production of Asian Greens outdoors and in the hoophouse, including tips on variety selection, timing of plantings, pest and disease management, fertility and weed management, and harvesting. Over twenty types of Asian Greens will be discussed. Pam Dawling, Twin Oaks Community (VA).

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  • We find that people are very ready for some fresh greens as the summer begins cooling down. Most of the crops I’m talking about Asian in origin, some developed in the US.
  • Less frilly than Tokyo Bekana
  • — I suppose enough salad dressing masks all flavors!
  • Golden Frills, etc. New varieties
  • Hon Tsai Tai, Brassica rapa, Mostly stem with small clusters of buds (which in our case, turned to flowers while we blinked). Mei Qing Choi, We don’t do well with miniature crops. I avoid varieties labeled “compact” in the catalogs.
  • Coming from the moist and verdant islands ofBritain,
  • Diseases are not much of a problem for us, though if they are for you, you may be justified infeeling grumpy with me after reading that!
  • This appears towards the end of the handout
  • For winter crops, there is no need to remove finished plants to the compost pile ifthey are not diseased. We simply leave them on the surface to dry up and disintegrate, improvingthe texture and nutrients in the surface layer of the soil. The higher temperatures and the lack ofrain ensure that crop residues will dry up rather than rot.
  • This is generally thought to be a health hazard (although recently this has beenquestioned). Boost CO2 by breathing.

Southern SAWG - Producing Asian greens for market - Pam Dawling Southern SAWG - Producing Asian greens for market - Pam Dawling Presentation Transcript

  • Producing Asian Greens for Market ©Pam Dawling 2013 Twin Oaks Community, Central Virginia Author of Sustainable Market Farming Published by New Society Publishers SustainableMarketFarming.com facebook.com/SustainableMarketFarming
  • Outline• Who the Asian Greens are, and why grow them• Crops I recommend• Crops that might work for you (not for us)• Crop requirements• Dealing with pests and diseases• Growing in spring• Growing outdoors in fall• Growing in the winter hoophouse• Harvesting• Minimizing nitrate accumulation in winter• Seed saving
  • Meet the Asian Greens!• Huge range of attractive varieties• Quick-growing, bring fast returns• Grow when you normally grow cabbage or kale• Short spring season, bolt when it gets hot• Long fall season, no bolting. Success depends on getting them germinated and planted in June and July• Grow all winter in hoophouses in our area.• Let’s look at the advantages.Blues Napa Chinese cabbage shown here
  • Advantages • A quick way to fill out your market booth or CSA bags • A catch crop for spaces where other crops have failed or otherwise finished early. • Keep a flat of seedlings ready, pop plugs into empty spaces as they occur. • Better able to germinate in hot weather than lettuce. • Faster growing than lettuce • Some of the faster-growing types are ready for transplanting 2 weeks after sowing (or you can direct sow them)
  • Healthful Diversity!• Flavors vary from mild to peppery - read catalog descriptions before growing lots• Colors cover the spectrum: chartreuse, bright green, dark green and purple.• Trial many kinds, use unwanted seed in baby salad mix!• Nutritious as well as tasty.• High in carotenoids, vitamins A and C, calcium, iron, magnesium and fiber.• Also contain sulphoraphanes (antioxidants), which fight against cancer and protect eyes from macular degeneration• Help prevent high blood pressure, heart disease and stroke.
  • Who’s Who – Asian greens fall into three main groups A) The turnip family, Brassica B) The cabbage family, B. rapa, of Asian origin oleracea, of European origin1. Some crops are Brassica Kai-lan, Chinese kale rapa var. pekinensis (napa cabbage, michihili, celery cabbage);2. others are B. rapa var. chinensis (bok choy)3. B. rapa var. japonica (mizuna). Photo credit Evergreen Seeds4. B. rapa var. narinosa (tatsoi) C) The Chinese Mustard family, B.5. B. rapa var. perviridis juncea (komatsuna) (Ruby Streaks, GoldenDifferent sources use different names. Frills, Red Rain)
  • 1. Brassica rapa var. pekinensis Pe tsai, or pei tsai, two types:a) Wong Bok b) Non-Wong Bok• Napa cabbage is a Che-foo • Celery cabbage types. The type of wong bok, second type of pe tsai:• Cylindrical cabbages such as looseleaf, fast-growing Michihili, Jade Pagoda are vegetables with light green Chihili types of wong bok leaves and white petioles. Maruba Santoh and Tokyo Bekana
  • 1a) Napa cabbageBrassica rapa var. pekinensis. • A type of wong bok • We like Blues (52 days from seed to harvest) best • Kasumi has the best bolt tolerance and is larger: 5 lb (2.3 kg) compared to 4 lb (1.8 kg) • Orange Queen is a colorful but slower-growing variety (80 days) • All are hardy to about 25°F (–4°C) • Stores better than michihili types.
  • 1a) Michihili/Cylindrical Wong Bok Chinese cabbage also Brassica rapa var. pekinensis• Produces 16" (40-cm) tall heads 6" (15 cm) across.• Very tender, light green leaves• Excellent for stir-fries and pickling.• More stress tolerant and resistant to bolting and black speck than Napa cabbage,• Cannot be stored as long.• We like Jade Pagoda (72 days) and the O-P Michihili (72 days) Photo credit Southern Exposure Seed
  • 1b) Celery cabbage pe tsai Brassica rapa var. pekinensisPhoto credit Evergreen Seeds The second type of B. rapa: • a looseleaf, fast-growing vegetable with light green leaves and white petioles. • Can be ready for harvest in 3–4 weeks after sowing. • More heat tolerant than Napa. Cold tolerant to 25°F (-4°C)
  • 1b) Maruba Santoh Brassica rapa var. pekinensis• A fast-growing chartreuse (yellow-green) tender-leafed plant• can be harvested as baby leaves• Or the leaves and wide white stems of the mature plant provide crunch for salads• It takes only 21 days to baby leaf, 35 days to maturity, and is fairly bolt resistant• (This photo might actually be Tokyo Bekana!)
  • 1b) Tokyo Bekana Brassica rapa var. pekinensis or var. chinensis (opinions vary)• Fast-growing tender chartreuse frilly, leafy plant.• 21 days to baby crop, 45 days to full maturity• Can be used for salad leaves during late-summer lettuce shortages.• Mild flavor - many people don’t even notice they are not eating lettuce!Young seedlings in Novemberhoophouse shown here
  • 2. Pak choy/bok choiBrassica rapa var. chinensis • Previously known as Chinese mustard cabbage • 45–55 days to maturity • We grow Prize Choy or Joy Choi • There is also red choi (a 45- day, red-veined baby leaf or maroon-leaved full-size version)
  • Pak choy• Sturdy white leaf White-stemmed Pak Choi Photo credit Southern Exposure Seed Exchange stems, big green leaves. Usually harvested as a head 12"–15" (30–38 cm) tall• Can be picked as individual leaves, for bunches of mixed braising greens or stir-fry combinations• All are hardy down to 32°F (0°C), most varieties to 25°F (-4°C)
  • (Group 2 or 1) Tokyo bekana Brassica rapa var. chinensis or var. pekinensis (opinions vary)Same vegetable, different opinion!Photo credit Southern ExposureSeed Exchange
  • 3. Mizuna/kyona Brassica rapa var. japonica• Very easy to grow, tolerates cold wet soil• Mild flavor• Regrows vigorously after cutting• Ferny leaves, available in green or purple (but Ruby Streaks is much better then Purple Mizuna!)• Adds color and loft in salad mixesHere we see Ruby Streaks (a mustard- more onthat later) on the left, then some regularmizuna, with strap-leaved mibuna and purplemizuna mixed in.
  • Mizuna • Use for baby salads after only 21 days • or thin to 8"–12" (20–30 cm) apart, to grow to maturity in 40 days • Fairly heat tolerant (well, warm tolerant) • Cold tolerant to 25°F (-4°C)
  • 4. Tatsoi/tah tsoiBrassica rapa var. narinosa • A small plant, a flat rosette of shiny, dark green spoon- shaped leaves and green- white stems • Mild flavor, an attractive appearance • Kitazawa Seeds have a Red Violet tatsoi, with an upright habit • Very cold tolerant, hardy to 10°F (–12°C) • Easy to grow - here’s how -
  • Tat soi• Direct sow and then thin into salad mixes, leaving some to mature at 10" (25 cm) across for cooking greens.• Can transplant at 6" (15 cm)• 21 days for baby salads; 45 days for cooking
  • 5. Komatsuna Brassica rapa var. perviridis or Brassica rapa var. komatsuna• Also known as mustard spinach (as Pak Photo credit Evergreen Seeds Choy is too!) and Summer Fest• Green or red (purple)• Baby salad size in 21 days, full size in 35 days• Grows into a large plant 18" (45 cm) tall• Individual leaves can be picked and bunched• Or the whole plant can be harvested• The flavor is much milder than the English name suggests - mildly peppery• Cold-tolerant to 15°F (-9.5°C), perhaps 10°F (-12°C)
  • Yukina SavoyBrassica rapa or juncea • like a bigger tatsoi, • blistered dark green leaves and stems • delicious flavor • about 12“ (30 cm) tall • Tolerant to heat and cold – down to 10°F (-12°C) • Transplant at 12" (30 cm) • 21 days to reach baby size, 45 days to full size
  • Yukina SavoyOutdoors in December, after several nights at 16-17°F (-8 to -9°C)
  • Senposai Our star of Asian greens• A cross between komatsuna and regular cabbage.• Heat and cold tolerant (down to 12°F (-11°C)• A big plant producing large, round, mid-green leaves which are usually harvested leaf by leaf.• Very productive, grows fastFall sown transplants (on theright) in the hoophouse
  • Senposai • Transplant at 12"–18" (30–45 cm) spacing; it really will use all this space • Cooks quickly (much quicker than collards) • Delicious sweet cabbagey flavor, tender texture. • Only 40 days to mature.
  • Bed of Senposai,15” apart in the row, 3 rows in 48”
  • Senposai in November –the young hoophouse crop is almost ready to take over from the well-used outdoor crop.
  • Ruby Streaks – another star and other B. juncea mustards: Golden Frills, Scarlet Frills, Red Rain, Wild Garden Pungent Mix Ruby Streaks with some RedRuby Streaks with Mizuna Rain (and Mibuna)
  • Endless VariationsOrnamental and garnish Every year there are newkales and cabbages add salad mix mustards, suchcolor and texture. We like as Johnny’s Ruby StreaksNagoya Red and White and Golden Frills.and Red Chidori Photo credit Wild Garden SeedsPhoto credit Evergreen Seeds
  • Non-stars for us Might work for you, although they didn’t suit us. (Too small and/or too short-lived). Hon Tsai Tai, Brassica rapa, (like a purple broccoli raab). Also known as Choy Sum. Mostly stem with small clusters of buds. In climates cooler than Zone 7 this might be productive in the fall. For spring it could be a challenge most places. It matures in only 35–40 days. Hardy to 23°F (–5°C). Photo credit Evergreen Seeds Broccoli Raab, Brassica rapa ruvo. We had the same trouble with this as with Hon Tsai Tai Mei Qing Choi, Brassica rapa var. chinensis. A miniature 6" (15 cm) pak choy. We don’t do well with miniature crops. These might suit your market, but we do better with larger vegetables. It matures in less than 45 days, a definite plus Vitamin Green/Bitamin-Na/Yokatta-Na, Brassica rapa var. Narinosa. A slender, white-stemmed plant, about 12" (30 cm) tall. It can be planted 4" (10 cm) apart, or direct sown and thinned. Tolerates heat and cold. Quick-growing with good flavor, not pungent: 21 days for salad mix, 45 to its full size
  • More non-stars These were too big and brutish for us. Tyfon Holland Greens is an industrial strength plant, another hybrid of komatsuna with a heading brassica. Could be good in a survival situation, or to grow for goats. Not a gourmet green. Hardy down to 20°F (-7°C). Tenderleaf, Brassica rapa, is another big, open- pollinated sturdy plant. Quickcooking and mild- flavored, despite appearances. Selected from a cross of Tendergreen and tatsoi. Very disease-resistant and cold tolerant down to 20°F (-7°C). Can be sown later in the fall than other greens - could be the solution for a space where your original plan didn’t work. Can be a useful salad mix crop at the baby stage. We just let ours get too big and gnarly. Mustard greens. . .
  • Red Giant MustardMustards such as Red Giant and Osaka Purple, Brassica juncea, and American Mustards (eg Southern Green Wave) are too hot for us, even at 3" (8 cm)leaves. Hardy to light frosts. Attractive colors. 21 days to baby leaves, 40–45 days to full sizeTransplants Adolescent plantPhoto credit Southern Exposure SeedExchange Photo credit Evergreen Seeds
  • Other Big Greens, worth considering.• Chinese Thick-Stem Mustard (Fedco,Brett Grohsgal of Even Star OrganicFarm, Maryland). Multiple cuttings ofbalanced-flavor salad mix crop to fill yourCSA bags. Extremely cold tolerant.• Toraziroh, Brassica oleraceaalgoblabria, a robust producer of highyields of large leaves with a good, notoverpowering flavor. Related to Chinesekale or Chinese broccoli. Relatively slowto bolt, ready in 45 days
  • Pseudo-Asian GreensPink Lettucy Mustard, Brassica rapa Mizspoona, Brassica rapa, a largejaponica, sturdy plant, 40 days to maturity. A(Wild Garden Seeds, Fedco). sweet flavor with a good balance ofMild-flavored at all growth stages. mild zinginess. A gene pool (variable plants). Mizuna crossed with Tatsoi.Photo credit Wild Garden Seeds Credit Wild Garden Seeds
  • American Asian-type salad brassicasWild Garden Pungent Mix, Brassica Pink Petiole Mix, Brassicajuncea, (Wild Garden Seeds, Fedco). rapa (Wild Garden Seeds, Fedco).A cross of pungent Indian mustards for those Fast-growing, cold tolerant, adds a touchwho like Big Flavor. 40 days to harvest. of color to the brassica portion of winterPhoto credits Wild Garden Seeds salad mixes. A varied mix of colors and shapes. Ready in 40 days.
  • Unusual GreensAbyssinian Cabbage, Brassica Texsel Greenscarinata, including Texsel Greens, Photo credit Adaptive Seedsis winter hardy in Zone 7. It is anon-heading, fast-growing, tastycut-and-come-again crop. Bestused in the fall - it bolts readily inspring;Portugese Cabbage, Brassicaoleracea costata, has recentlybecome more available in the US.
  • Asian non-brassica greensChrysanthemum Photo credit Evergreen Seedsgreens/shungiku, Chrysanthemumcoronarium. These have a verydistinctive aromatic flavor, whichyou may or may not love.The flowers are very pretty, if yougive up harvesting the plants.21 days for baby greens, 45 days tofull size.
  • Crop requirements for Asian greensSimilar care requirements to other brassicas,Shallow rooted - Pay extra attention to providing enough water during hot weather to prevent bitter flavors and excess pungency,Do close monitoring of pests, which can build up large populations during the summer.Very fertile soils grow the best Asian greens,Turn in leguminous cover crops or compost to provide adequate nutrition.
  • Sow or Transplant? We almost always transplant brassicas because we use our growing spaces very intensively. Transplanting gives the previous crop extra time. If we have 4 weeks between the end of one crop and transplants going in, we sow buckwheat to add organic matter and smother weeds. We usually choose this cover crop opportunity rather than direct sow greens. We grow a lot of brassicas and our crop rotation is always pushed and stretched by the amount of brassicas we’d like to plant – transplanting allows the soil extra weeks without brassicas.
  • Irrigation Shallow-rooted, need plenty of water to grow pleasant-tasting leaves. 1” (2.5 cm) of water per week is often enough During very hot weather, 2” (5 cm) is better Drip irrigation saves water and reduces disease and weed pressure. Overhead irrigation can be cheaper and easier to set up for crops that will be harvested before much time has passed. Overhead sprinklers can wash off aphids - could be all the control you need
  • Pest management  A net fabric with small holes is better than rowcover in hotProtekNet on hoops weather, as airflow is better and it heats less.  ProtekNet Pest Control Netting is made of clear high-density polyethylene with UV resistance and a lifespan of eight to ten years. Its light transmission is 90 percent. It is available from Purple Mountain Organics in Maryland. The 1.35 × 1.35 mm 60 gm/m2 mesh is one-sixth the length of a cucumber beetle. It also protects crops against weather damage.  Enviromesh from Agralan is another promising-sounding product to keep insect pests from crops.
  • Pests Harlequin bugs are our worst brassica pests. We usually pick and kill them. If we get flea beetles, we use Spinosad, an ProtekNet enzyme produced by a soil organism. Hb nematodes will also control them, as will neem oil or the braconid wasp Microtconus vittatoe Muesebeck. Garlic spray, Miller’s Hot Sauce, kaolin and white sticky traps have been suggested. You can also catch them with a vacuum cleaner, or inside a bucket coated with Tanglefoot paste (hold the inverted bucket over the plant, shake it and catch the jumping beetles in the goo). Brassica flea beetles are a different species from the ones that plague eggplant, and they can only fly a few hundred yards (meters).
  • More Pests Aphids are worse in cooler weather (early spring), before their predators have arrived in high enough numbers. Insecticidal soaps can be used. Caterpillars can be kept off the plants with rowcover or ProtekNet. Bt (Bacillus thuringiensis) will kill caterpillars if rowcovers fail. Bt degrades rapidly in sunlight so is best applied early evening or early morning, whichever seems likely to catch most caterpillars. The beneficial fungus Beauvaria bassiana infects caterpillars, but can get costly. Caterpillars have many natural enemies. In our garden the paper wasps eat caterpillars, and we also have the parasite Cotesia glomerata I used to think slugs were an endangered species in Virginia. When we put up our hoophouse, I found we were farming them! Slugs can best be caught at night with a flashlight. (Well, actually with scissors, by flashlight!) Grasshoppers - We are trying to determine when the young hatch in July, so we know when we need to be most attentive to keeping them off our plants. Vegetable weevil larvae have caused trouble In our hoophouse in January. They come out of the soil at night and make holes in the leaves. We have used Spinosad against them with some success.
  • Diseases Most of these greens are fast-turnaround crops, so if some get sick, pull them out and move on in life. If it’s fall you can probably sow some spinach to provide greens without antagonizing the brassica disease gods. Clubroot is perhaps the longest lasting disease, requiring land to be taken out of brassica production for ten years. Other diseases include various molds and wilts. See ATTRA’s Cole Crops and Other Brassicas: Organic Production
  • In SpringIn spring we sow in flats in a greenhouse, to get an early start.We transplant spring Asian greens at 4–5 weeks of age, about a month before our last frost date, and use rowcover for a few weeks.Direct sowing has the advantage that thinnings can be used for salads.
  • In Summer (for Fall Outdoor Crops)  We prefer outdoor seedbeds for summer sowings, because it is easier to keep the plants watered.  We make an outdoor nursery bed, sow at about three or four seeds per inch (5–10 mm apart), and cover with rowcover or ProtekNet.  The seedlings emerge in as little as three days in summer temperatures.
  • For Fall Outdoor Crops We start sowing our fall Asian greens for outdoor planting around June 26 and repeat a week later for insurance (July 3), the same dates we sow fall broccoli and cabbage. Last date for sowing these crops is about 3 months before the first fall frost date. In our case that means July 14–20.
  • Transplanting  In summer, the faster growing types are ready to transplant 2 weeks after sowing. Napa cabbage, Tokyo Bekana and Maruba Santoh are in this category.  Most others transplant best at 3– 4 weeks of age (less time than needed in spring). We transplant outdoors from July 10 to July 31.  To minimize transplant shock, water the plants well an hour before transplanting, get them in the ground as quickly as possible and water again.  Shadecloth or rowcover will help keep the breezes (if any!) and strong sun off the plants.
  • Cold-Hardiness• 32F (0C): Some Pak Choy• 25F (-4C): Chinese Napa cabbage, Maruba Santoh, Mizuna, Tokyo Bekana, most Pak Choy• 20F (-7C): Tendergreen, Tyfon Holland Greens• 15F (-9.5C): Komatsuna• 12F (-11C): Senposai• 10F (-12C): Tatsoi, Yukina Savoy, probably Komatsuna
  • Harvest  Some of these greens are harvested as whole heads; others can be harvested by the leaf and bunched or bagged.  The open rosette types, such as tatsoi or the bigger Yukina Savoy, are usually gathered closed and banded with plant ties or rubber bands.  Most can be grown for baby salad mix. With mizuna we do a “half buzz-cut,” snipping off leaves on one half of the plant an inch (25 mm) above the ground each time we come by. • Tat soi shown here
  • After HarvestAfter harvest, get the crops into shade and a cooler as soon as you can. Some of the heading types can be stored in a walk-in cooler for quite a while, almost as long as regular cabbage. Pak Choy shown here
  • Season extension/overwintering Fast growing varieties can be succession sowed for a continuous supply. Cold-hardy types can be harvested all winter in milder climates. Senposai outdoors in late November shown here. Or they could be kept alive to revive in spring and provide earlier harvests than spring-sown crops. Wild Garden Seeds and Even’ Star Farm specialize in producing seed for very cold-tolerant varieties. Rowcovers on hoops will help keep these crops in marketable condition, and improve the microclimate, for better growth rate.
  • Asian Greens in the HoophouseHoophouses are the place to be in winter, if you are an Asian green.  Night-time protection of two layers of plastic and an air gap – big difference!  September sowings thrive on sunny days and grow at a surprisingly fast rate.  When the daylight falls below ten hours, little growth will happen till spring.  The dates depend on your latitude. Here at 38° N, it’s November 20 to January 20.  The dates are modified by the time it takes to cool the soil and the air.  In practice, the effective dates for us may be closer to December 15– February 15.  Brassicas are the most productive crops in these conditions • Photo credit Wren Vile
  • Fall Hoophouse Planting Direct sowings, and transplants brought in from outside in the fall, or grown inside and transplanted during the winter. September 7: We clear and add compost to one of the beds inside to sow Tatsoi . Sept 15 and Sept 24: We make outdoor sowings of crops to later transplant into the hoophouse at 2–4 weeks old. We cover this outside nursery bed with hoops and rowcover to keep bugs off, and water it frequently. This method gives us cooler conditions for better seed germination, and gives our summer crops longer. The Sept 15 sowing includes Pak choy, Chinese cabbage, Yukina Savoy, Tokyo Bekana and Maruba Santoh. The Sept 24 sowing includes Senposai, more Yukina Savoy, mizuna and arugula, and resows of anything from the previous week that didn’t give a good stand of seedlings. By the end of September we clear the summer crops from at least one more hoophouse bed, and work in some compost. We transplant the Tokyo Bekana, Maruba Santoh, Pak choy and the Chinese cabbage at just 2 weeks old; Yukina Savoy at 3 weeks. We clear and prepare more beds and transplant the Senposai, mizuna, 4-5 weeks old, in the fourth week of October. We grow lettuce, kale, turnips, spinach and other crops too, (not this workshop!)
  • Hoophouse succession crops scheduleCrop Planting Dates Harvest Dates NotesGreens filler #1 Oct 10 Replace harvested headsGreens filler #2 Oct 20Mizuna #1 transplant Oct 24 Nov 1–Jan 25 Clear 1/26, sow radishesMizuna #2 sown Nov 9 Jan 27–March 6Tatsoi #1 sown Sept 7 Oct 30–Dec 28 Two months of harvestsTatsoi #2 sown Nov 15 Feb 15–Feb 28 Two weeks of harvests!Yukina Savoy #1 transplant Oct 10 Dec 30–Jan 22 Clear edge, sow lettuce mixYukina Savoy #2 sown Oct 24 until Jan 29 Only one week extra
  • During the Winter From Nov 10 on we aim, to keep a fully planted hoophouse, and as each crop harvest winds down, we immediately replace that crop with another. During December we use the “Filler” greens plants to replace casualties and heads of Chinese cabbage, Pak choy, Yukina Savoy each day as soon as we’ve harvested them.Pak Choy replacing Yukina Savoy here At the end of January, we clear the first mizuna, sow radishes; clear Tokyo Bekana, Yukina savoy #1 on south edge, sow lettuce mix 2/2
  • December to February plantings We stop filling gaps with Asian greens (and lettuces) on Jan 25, and fill all gaps after that with spinach transplants, until 2/20. After that we only fill gaps on edges of beds, leave centers free for tomatoes, etc. After 2/20, we harvest the winter crops from the center rows first, plant the new early summer crops down the center, then harvest the outer rows bit by bit as the new crop needs the space or the light. This overlap allows the new crops to take over gradually. Our winter and spring crops come to an end in March or early April
  • Winter Hoophouse Harvest Schedule • Harvest starts in November, with mizuna, arugula, tatsoi and baby brassica mix along with beet greens, spinach, lettuce leaves for salad. • From December we also have Tokyo Bekana, Maruba Santoh, as well as baby lettuce mix, chard, kale and turnips. • The new year starts with Yukina Savoy. • From January, the bigger greens, including Senposai, pak choy and Chinese cabbage, feed us till mid- March, if we plant enough. Photo credit Southern Exposure Seed Exchange. Michihili cabbage
  • Minimizing Nitrate AccumulationIn winter, when light levels are low, beware of high levels of nitrates in leafy greens.A health hazard — nitrates can be converted in the body into nitrites, which reducethe blood’s capacity to carry oxygen and may be further converted into carcinogenicnitrosamines. To keep nitrate levels as low as possible:• Grow varieties best suited for winter;• Avoid fertilizing with blood meal or feather meal;• Water enough but not excessively;• Provide fresh air so that carbon dioxide levels are high enough;• Harvest after four or more hours of bright sunlight in winter;• Avoid harvesting on very overcast days;• Harvest crops a little under-mature, rather than over-mature;• Store harvested greens at temperatures close to freezing; Use crops soon afterharvest;• Spinach contains about twice as much nitrate as lettuce, so mix your salads; don’tjust eat spinach.
  • Seed saving If you plan to grow seed of more than one brassica, carefully choose ones that won’t cross. Be aware of the possibility of brassica crops being wrongly classified. Also beware of brassica weeds. For home use: at least 600 feet (200 m) isolation from other flowering brassicas. For commercial seed: ¼ mile (400 m) with barriers or ½ mile (800 m) without. Grow at least 120-300 plants in fall, pull out any atypical plants and leave the best over the winter. In the spring, let them bolt. Why so many? Brassicas are outbreeding plants and, as such, are in danger of inbreeding depression (not enough genetic diversity), if too few plants are grown. Save seed from at least 60 to 75 plants, and preferably 125 to 150. As the seedpods dry, pull up the plants, and if your weather is damp hang them up to finish drying under cover. If you have high humidity, use a fan. Hanging plants inside paper sacks will reduce loss of seeds when the pods start to shatter. You can stomp on the bags to shatter the pods, and then winnow and screen the seeds. See the Saving Our Seed Project guide listed in the Resources section.
  • Resources• Grow Your Own Chinese Vegetables, Geri Harrington, 1984, Garden Way Publishing. Includes the names for these crops in different cultures.• Growing Unusual Vegetables, Simon Hickmott, 2006, Eco-Logic books, UK.• Oriental Vegetables: The Complete Guide for the Garden and Kitchen, Joy Larkham, revised edition 2008, Kodansha, USA• Kitazawa and Evergreen Seeds have the most choices.• Evergreen’s helpful clickable list. http://www.evergreenseeds.com/asveglis.html• Fedco Seeds and Johnny’s also have a good range.• Wild Garden Seed has many interesting home-bred varieties. Search under Mustard. http://www.wildgardenseed.com• Even’ Star Farm Ice-bred Seeds http://www.localharvest.org/even-star-organic- farm-M9994• Good Earth Seed Company (Tsang and Ma International) P.O. Box 5644, Redwood City, California 94063. No English website.• ATTRA Cole Crops and Other Brassicas: Organic Production https://attra.ncat.org/attra- pub/summaries/summary.php?pub=27• Saving Our Seed Project http://www.carolinafarmstewards.org/wp- content/uploads/2012/05/BrassicaSeedProductionver1_1.pdf an excellent 24-page guide on organic brassica seed production
  • Producing Asian Greens for Market ©Pam Dawling 2013 Twin Oaks Community, Central Virginia Author of Sustainable Market Farming Published by New Society Publishers SustainableMarketFarming.com facebook.com/SustainableMarketFarming