Saturday, October 4, 2008

A Harvest of Asian Greens

I had a pretty harvest today. I picked a lot of greens that seemed to be ready. These are all my Asian greens. The two tall light colored plants are Fun Jen. I've been calling it my frilly boc choi, because that is what it reminds me of. It is a very mild plant and perfect for Asian salads. Sadly today it was a little frillier than usual. Often it is the slugs fault, and though I have some slug damage too, the big culprit was cabbage worms, both kinds. I had brown ones and green ones.

Despite growing the crops under a row cover, I'm not surprised to see the cabbage worms. When I was out hunting slugs under the cover the other day, I saw two pink eyes staring back at me. It was a cabbage moth. Insect eyes reflect light just like animal eyes. Who would have thunk it? They got under because the row covers degrade in the sunlight and this particular row cover has seen a couple of years in the sun. Holes now easily rip in the side if I'm not gentle enough.

So the moths have found the holes and once they are under they get stuck. Though I haven't found any butterflies under there yet, I have seen the green worms. These nasty creatures must find the cabbage plants from their smell since they certainly can't see them under there.

Between my Fun Jen are two green bunches. The one on the left is a perfect little mini boc choi. The mini ones are so cute, but in the past their flavor has been greatly lacking. I've had some that were very strongly mustard flavor and one that tasted like salt. Ick. I really like the sweeter boc chois. This one was much better than the previous ones. It still had a little of the mustard flavor, but it wasn't horribly bitter. The bitterness does keep the insects away. Fun Jen which doesn't have a bit of bitterness is a great trap crop for insects of all kinds. They love that plant over all the others - both the slugs and the caterpillars.

The next little green bunch over is my tatsoi. These little plants are very pretty, but not very productive compared to the other greens. I think I should plant them much closer together. I love their taste and tend to eat them in salads with lettuce and mizuna. The mizuna is the pretty plant with the purple stems. I usually don't pick a whole plant like this, but I can't keep up with the three plants I have. They are pretty good producers. I have one that is 18" wide and just keeps throwing out yummy leaves. So I took out the oldest plant that wasn't producing as well.

The last set of greens on the table is my cilantro. I don't have nearly as much of this as I did in the spring, but I have some at least. I love this in my salads and sprinkled on top of stir fries.

I picked so much because they were too close to my Chinese cabbage. This was planned. I didn't have a lot of room when I planted the cabbage. So I put them too close to some other greens I knew I could harvest before the cabbage got too big. Well their leaves started touching so it was time to give the cabbage more room to grow.

I really think I've planted the Chinese cabbage too late. It is growing so slowly. Planting guides are wrong when they tell you to plant x number of weeks before your last frost. Here in the north, we don't get much light from the sun in the fall. And this year it has been so cloudy in September, so no direct sun. The plants will hold well this time of year, but they won't grow well. I know this but still only planted them on July 31st. I need to get them in earlier next year. Maybe two sets, one on July 1st and one on July 15th.

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