"Chinese greens for fal" --- poison free organic gardening Victoria BC
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Chinese Greens for Fall

China Express

Chinese cabbages are milder and sweeter than our familiar cabbages, and most mature much faster than our's. This, and their cold hardiness, makes them ideal for fall sowing for abundant, super healthy crops of fresh greens until frost - and in some cases, well into winter, and beyond.

These greens can be sown now and until the end of August. Can be used for cutting leaves, or harvesting the whole plant. All flower shoots are edible, and best when young.

Like all cabbages, Chinese cabbages also require a nitrogen-rich fertilizer. A handful (1/2 cup) of blood meal, Canola seed meal, or composted chicken manure per yard, lightly worked into the soil under the seeds, will make all the difference. Also make sure that your soil pH is near neutral; between 6.5 and 6.9 is ideal. If not using a seaweed mulch later on, side dress growing seedlings and plants with a seaweed or fish fertilizer once a week, for supreme health of the crops, and your's.

Again, and to reduce the need for weeding the newly seeded rows, lay down wide strips of newspaper, 4 to 6 pages thick, between the seeded rows, leaving only a 3 centimeter (1") wide 'open' strip over the seeded space. The newspaper will slowly decay and add its organic content to the soil. Follow with a seaweed or garden weed mulch over what's left of the newspaper mulch as soon as the seedling have grown sufficiently tall. One of the many, many benefits of the mulch is also that it keeps the cabbages off the ground, as well as keeping rain-spluttered mud of the leaves later in the season. You just can't beat a mulch anyway you look at it.

Sow 1/2 inch (1 cm) deep and 1 inch (2 cm) apart in rows about 1 foot (30 cm) apart. Thin to 4 to 6 inches (10 to 15 cm) apart the row. Larger spacing results in fewer but larger plants. Side-dress lightly with high-nitrogen fertilizer about once a month to stimulate growth and soil biota activity in cool weather.

China Express, pictured above, provides crisp and sweet salad greens and is the chief ingredient in stir frys. It is very easy to grown, extremely vigorous and hardy, and survives well outdoors until severe frost. However, when seedlings are exposed to temperatures under 10 degrees C. (50 F.) for two weeks running, they will bolt and produce flower shoots which, however, are edible and delicious when harvested young.

Komatsuma is an upright Japanese green, very similar to spinach but with longer stems. Its leaves are sweet and tender with a very light mustard flavour, which is great for gourmet fresh salads, and a tasty side dish for many meals. Komatsuma is a vigorous grower which matures in only 21 days, and its leaves can be cut repeatedly as long as it is growing, and due to its high bolt resistance and extreme cold hardiness - and with a bit of luck - throughout the winter. Since it can also be grown the year round, it will quickly become a favourite for anyone who has ever tried it.

Corn Salad is not a Chinese green but a small perennial which belongs to the Valerian family (from Latin for health) and is completely winter hardy here, It will supply an endless supply of healthy fresh greens throughout the winter, while sheltering your garden soil and its soil biota through the winter. Can be rototilled into the ground in spring for adding lots of rich organic content to your soil. Corn salad can be planted until the end of August, and many gardeners sow it between the rows of their maturing vegetables.

There are two varieties, Valgros and Vit, 45 and 50 days to maturity respectively. For growing in rows, sow 1 cm (1/2 inch) deep, 30 cm ( 1 foot) apart and thin to 5 cm (5 inches) apart. Or broadcast seed and rake in lightly for a dense winter ground cover, and an endless supply of fresh winter greens.

Valgros forms a dense somewhat loose bunch whereas Vit forms a denser and more upright bunch with broader and thicker leaves. Vit also has excellent tolerance for damp conditions. Once tried, you'll wonder how you ever got along without it.

With these, and the other winter greens, you'll have a varied, year round supply of fresh greens, and with them, an ever so crucially vital source of the 72+ trace elements we all need for our health and well being.


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