The City Magazine Since 1975

Grow Your Greens!

December 2015
Grow Your Greens!
WRITER: 
Now’s the time to start planning for a New Year’s container garden of beautiful edibles  

Strolling the grocery store produce aisle, you’ve surely seen the bountiful displays of veggies like bok choy and mustard greens, but perhaps you haven’t considered that these cool-season members of the Brassicaceae family can easily be grown in your own garden. Rich in vitamin A, C, and K, Asian greens not only make a healthy addition to salads and stir-fries, they happen to look beautiful growing in containers and window boxes, too.

Seeds and transplants alike are ideally planted in January and February (with a second season in the fall), when the soil is at least 45°F. To extend your harvest, sow seeds every two weeks. While the plants are tolerant of temps that dip as low as 20°F, days that are 75°F and up may cause them to “bolt,” producing tall flower stalks that signal the end of the growth cycle.  


bok choy tatsoi (Brassica rapa var. rosularis)
The emerald-green foliage of this highly structured plant forms a gorgeous rosette as it matures to eight to 12 inches in diameter (top). Cut its unique, spoon-shaped leaves starting from the plant’s outer edge and be rewarded with a flush of new growth from the center. Tatsoi greens have a stronger—and some would say better—flavor than standard bok choy.

Light: Full to partial sun
Soil: Well-draining and nutrient-rich
Water: Two or three times a week
Maintenance: Harvest outer leaves to encourage new growth.


toy choy
(Brassica rapa var. chinensis)
If your space is limited, try this petite bok choy. Its clusters of broad white stems and dark green leaves stand five inches tall, making it perfect for a small container. Harvest the outer leaves from full-size plants, or cut the entire toy choy at once, keeping in mind that it tastes best when young and tender.

Light: Full sun to partial shade
Soil: Well-draining and nutrient-rich
Water: Two or three times a week
Maintenance: Keep area free of weeds so they do not compete for nutrients.


’ruby streaks’ (Brassica juncea ‘Ruby Streaks’)
Looking for a little more color? Turn your attention to this spicy mustard green. Cooler temperatures will darken the maroon hue of its deeply serrated leaves and add a slight sweetness to its otherwise pungent flavor. You can start harvesting leaves when they’re about two inches tall. If you allow the plant to bolt, toss the yellow flowers into salads or soups for a bit of extra spice.

Light: Full to partial sun
Soil: Well-draining and nutrient-rich
Water: Two or three times a week
Maintenance: Keep area free of weeds so they do not compete for nutrients.

 

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