Learn how to grow Chinese cabbage, mizuna, bok choy and many other delicious Asian greens, plus get tips for harvesting, storage and seed saving
From crunchy Chinese cabbage to buttery bok choy, Asian greens offer an array of flavors and textures for your fall table. Just a small plot of garden space can yield a bountiful assortment of leafy greens, crisp stems and even edible flowers. Most Asian greens prefer shorter, cooler days, so growing them is an easy way to keep producing your own food well into autumn.
Types to Try
Leafy greens of Asian ancestry include mustard cousins such as mizuna, mustard spinach and tatsoi. Red-leafed mustards and garland chrysanthemum offer more variations in flavor and texture.
Leaf ribs or crisp stems of Chinese cabbage and bok choy bring plenty of crunch to stir-fries and salads. Miniature forms of both are great for small gardens.
Tender flower buds come from special varieties of flowering brassicas, which may have a broccoli or a mustard pedigree.
See our chart of Asian greens for more information on these plants and a list of great varieties to try.
When to Plant Asian Greens
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. Transplant seedlings when they are four weeks old. Some Asian greens can also be grown in spring, but because spring crops are prone to bolting, be sure to choose bolt-resistant varieties, which will hold in the spring garden about 10 days longer than other varieties.
How to Plant Asian Greens
All Asian greens grow best in moist, fertile, well-drained soil with a pH between 6.0 and 6.5. Choose a sunny site, loosen the soil to at least 12 inches deep, and thoroughly mix in a layer of mature compost. Sow seeds about 2 inches apart and a quarter inch deep, then water well to settle the seeds into the soil. After seeds germinate (often in less than five days), gradually thin them to proper spacing. Large Chinese cabbage, Chinese broccoli and flowering mustard should be thinned to 14 inches apart, but small bok choy plants do well with just 6 inches between plants.