Asian Greens

Asian Greens add superb and often subtle flavours to salads with many being used in stir-fries. Most can be sown at high density and used as a cut-and-come-again crop. Try growing Asian Green vegetables like Bok Choi, Tatsoi,  Choy Sum, Chinese cabbage, Rocket and Pak Choi. General growing advice can be found below but please always refer to the back of your seed packet for specific growing advice for your chosen variety.

When to sow Asian greens: Many Asian greens can be sown all year round depending on your climate. They grow exceptionally well during the cool Autumn months in Australasia. Plants sown in stressful conditions may bolt quite quickly.

Soil preparation and location: Asian Greens enjoy a fertile rich soil that is also free draining. Adding some all-purpose garden compost will improve the fertility and structure of your garden soil. Asian Greens generally prefer a neutral soil pH of around 7. Choose an area in your garden that has at least 6 hours of full sun a day or more. If you experience cold winters with frosts consider growing your plants inside a hothouse during these months. 

Germination: Asian Green seeds germinate relatively quickly, usually under ten days. As members of the Brassicaceae family, the seeds are quite small and round which means they are sown at a shallow depth of around 3-5mm. Seeds can be sown directly into the ground and thinned later to the required spacing. Alternatively, sow your seeds into seed-raising trays and transplant when seedlings are a few weeks old or large enough to handle. The seedbed or seed trays will need to be kept moist throughout germination otherwise they may not germinate. Covering the rows or pots with a fine layer of good quality seed raising mix or vermiculite will assist with water retention. Water seeds in with a fine mist setting to minimise disturbance to the seed. 

Care and Nutrition: At seedling stage your plants will enjoy regular weekly liquid feeds with an organic fish emulsion. Once planted into the ground plants can be given an application of slow-release pelletised organic fertiliser. As Asian Greens are quite fast growing this should provide ample nutrition until harvest. Ensure your plants are kept moist during their growth with regular watering. Drought-stressed plants have a tendency to bolt or become susceptible to pest and disease issues. Applying a 5-10cm layer of sugarcane mulch around your plants slows down soil evaporation and suppresses weeds.

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Pests and diseases:

Common pests of Asian greens are Snails, Slug, Cabbage White Butterflies/moths, Diamond Back Moth, Aphids, Cutworm, and Flea Beetle.

Common diseases of Asian greens to be aware of are Brassica Alternaria Leaf Spot and Brassica Downy Mildew.

At germination and seedling stage plants are susceptible to snails and slugs. Place out some organic slug pellets or homemade traps at planting time. Plants are very prone to attack by Cabbage White Butterflies or Diamond back moths. To prevent butterflies from laying their eggs keep plants shielded with some fine insect mesh. If caterpillar damage is already present you will need to treat with an organic caterpillar spray. Ensure the spray is applied to the entire foliage area including the undersides. Contact your local garden centre for suitable options. Larger caterpillars are able to be hand removed but may be hard to spot as they blend into the leaves. Asian Greens are also prone to attack by aphids. Plants may appear to be wilted and yellowing and upon further inspection have clusters of small sticky green, brown or black aphids. Aphids can be an indication of plant stress so ensure you maintain adequate water and nutrition to prevent attack. To treat infestations apply an oil-based organic vegetable spray to all affected foliage, paying close attention to the centres of your plants. To assist with aphid control encourage beneficial insects into your yard by planting plenty of flowers. Lady beetles, parasitic wasps and lacewings all feed on aphids so it is important to provide an ideal environment for them. Try not to use any pesticides (including pyrethrum) and herbicides in the garden as they may kill off these beneficial insects.

How to harvest Asian greens: Plants can either be harvested gradually or picked whole. For baby salad leaves trim the outer leaves when the desired size. Harvest whole plants at any stage before flowering. Once flowering occurs plants may become bitter. 

Tips on growing Asian greens: Plants can often be grown in clumps of 2 per spacing to maximise space. As they are fast-growing Asian Greens can be sown in between rows of other brassicas such as Cabbage, Cauliflower and Broccoli.

Companion plant Asian greens with: Marigolds, Rosemary, Chamomile, Calendula, and Cosmos.


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