Saturday, May 23, 2015

Wacky Weather & Chinese Greens


Before we get to the Chinese greens, let me get the weather off my chest.  Just like Susie, last night we had below 0C (32F) temperatures for a couple of hours.  And now it's 26C (79F).  A difference of 29 degrees over less than 12 hours...talk about a roller coaster!

And that, ladies and gentlemen, is why my planting out date for things like peppers and tomatoes isn't until the last week of May.  The weather is fickle at this time of year - I just have to firmly remind myself of that when we are having July like weather in the first week of May and the temptation hits to get things in the ground sooner.

I have fairly hardy plants outside right now, so no protection was needed, although I did cover the potato bed with a bit of Agribon as some foliage had started poking out of the soil.  I had intended to get a bunch of seedlings, such as the lettuce, planted out yesterday, but decided to wait until today instead.  I brought all of them inside last night to ride out the sub zero temps.

On to the Chinese greens.  I was a bit more timely when sowing them than I was with the broccoli, being only 2 (vs. 3) weeks behind schedule.

Up until now, I had only grown one type of Chinese green - Choy.  Last year I grew Joi Choi Hybrid and Mei Qing Choi (see my End of Season Review for details on these).  I will be growing both of them again this year, and adding 5 new Chinese green varieties to the lineup…hence my space issues in the brassica beds.


Ching Chang Choy (50 days, Baker Creek) & Green Fortune (50 days, Renee's)

Ching Chang Baby Choy
Photo source:  Baker Creek

Green Fortune Baby Choy
Photo source:  Renee's
 
Both of these were inspired by Daphne's posts on getting a round of baby choy in and out early in the season.  It's not exactly early in the season anymore, but I consider this year more of a learning experience with them anyhow, so I'm not going to fret about it.  I decided to plant the Green Fortune choy around the NCK which has lots of space around it (3 plants in a 2' x 4' spot).  So I'm hoping that the choy sizes up before the NCK gets too large.

Green Fortune - 3 Weeks
 
Unfortunately, only a couple of the Ching Chang germinated & they were so weak, I thought they weren't going to make it.  I planted them out and they didn't look half bad - and then they disappeared.  Poof...gone.  I have no idea what happened. The bed is netted & everything else seems to be ok.  So they were either eaten (although the baby broccoli right next to them was fine) or they simply withered and died, their remains blending in with the soil.

Ching Chang before they disappeared - 3 Weeks 
I am starting a few more of these and will be planting them out in the empty spot in the broccoli section, or anywhere else I can fit them in.  If they germinate, that is.
 

Kyoto Mizuna (43 days, Pinetree)

Photo Source:  Pinetree
 
I know I've eaten mizuna in salad mixes, but this will be the first time I'm growing it.

Mizuna - 3 Weeks
 

Tatsoi (45-50 days, Pinetree)

Photo Source:  Pinetree
 
I've always loved the look of tatsoi - the rosettes that it forms are so beautiful!  Hopefully it tastes as good as it looks.

Tatsoi - 3 Weeks

Kai Lan/Gai Lan 60-70 days, Baker Creek)

Photo source:  Baker Creek
 
I've never eaten this Chinese green either - it's supposed to taste like broccoli with a bitter edge.  Since I enjoy bitter greens like rapini, I'm looking forward to giving it a try.

Kai Lan - 3 Weeks
 
I transplanted most of the Chinese greens out last week - I'm hoping that they will start putting on some good growth now that they are tucked into a bed.

I just transplanted the Mei Qing Choi a couple of days ago, but the Joi Choi was another seeding disappointment (sigh...) and I ended up with only 2/4 transplants.  I have sowed a few more & the seeded cells are currently on the heat mat.

Mei Qing - 3 Weeks

Joi Choi - 3 Weeks
 
And now a few photos of my tulips, which are one of the few ornamental additions I've made to our front walkway.  These photos were taken over the past week or so.  The tulips have made a wonderful display that has actually lasted much longer than I anticipated.  They are all starting to fade now, but it was wonderful while it lasted.

The yellow/pink ones are a Darwin Hybrid Mix and the Burgundy tulips are a variety called "Ronaldo".


 
 
 
 

A thank you to Jo for the tip on taking top-down photos of tulips for a kaleidoscope effect - it's such a beautiful perspective.

Till next time...

“Enjoy the little things, for one day you may look back and realize they were the big things” ~~ Robert Brault

13 comments:

  1. That Tatzoi is pretty! I'd grow it just for the interest!
    And the tulips--how nice. The deer ate mine, despite a couple treatments with Plantskyd--a deer repellent. I'm beginning to think nothing but an electric fence is going to protect my flowers!
    Have an enjoyable weekend

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    1. The tatsoi is lovely, isn't it - I'm really looking forward to seeing my little seedling develop into that lovely rosette...and to tasting it too. That's so sad about the deer eating your tulips - I suppose that's the one drawback of living on a beautiful, expansive piece of property like yours...the wildlife love it as well!

      Have a great rest of the weekend too - the weather has finally turned (again!) so it will be a big transplanting day for me today.

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  2. You probably would have better germination if you don't germinate your Asian greens on the heat mat. All of the Asian greens grow better in cool temperatures and they germinate fine at 60F but not nearly as well at 80F.

    I love the look of tatsoi too. Such a pretty plant. And everything loves to eat those little Asian greens don't they? If they have a choice between an Asian green or another brassica the Asian green bites it. My Oasis turnips are probably the worst of the lot for attracting insects in my garden. Luckily I sow a lot of them.

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    1. I didn't have any issues with germination last year, mind you I only grew two varieties of choy & this time round, I am growing a lot of other varieties. I thought that the Chinese greens were one of those veg that liked warmer temps to germinate vs. to grow in...I'll start some more Ching Chang choy without the heat mat (as I'm still now having issues) and see how it goes.

      I definitely had more pest problems with my Mei Qing choy last year than with any other veg - they are the only veg that I have grown (so far) to attract hoards of aphids, not to mention the slugs & cabbage worms from butterflies that managed to get under the netting. I'm wondering how many more pest issues I'll have this year with all the new varieties that I'm growing.

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    2. I've never had aphid problems with my choys. My kale yes. Oh wow the aphids love my kale especially late in the summer and into fall. I'm spraying with soap all the time then. I'm guessing we have different aphid species if yours loves choys. That isn't to say I won't get them if they stick around in the garden long enough, but choys tend to be fast which is one of the reasons I like them.

      Oh now I want to experiment, but I don't have a heat mat anymore as I don't grow the nightshades anymore. I am finding one weird thing this year. If I bottom water often my lettuce seems to be popping up right away, but if I mist the top where the seeds are they take a lot longer. I keep wondering why that could be or it is just random coincidence.

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  3. The tulips are so pretty. We have to grow them as annuals around here, they never bloom a second time, unless you dig them up and give them a cold treatment which is just not worth the bother. And then chances are the deer or the gophers will eat them anyway. So I don't grow them.

    I usually direct sow Asian greens since many of they seem to resent being transplanted, at least in my garden, although bok choy transplants ok. And as Daphne said, they do seem to tolerate cool soil temperatures quite well.

    The weather here has been fickle as well. After an unseasonally warm dry and sunny winter it has turned cold and gray and damp. The fog has been so heavy at times that it seems to be on the verge of rain.

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    1. Tulips are lovely, but I doubt I would grow them either if I had to dig them up and replant them each year...I think I planted around 70 bulbs and doing that once was enough!

      I don't have the best of luck when it comes to direct seeding - I'm trying that on my rapini right now, but it seems to be growing at a snails pace compared to last year when I grew it as transplants. I'm still experimenting with direct seeding but what I have to try is to direct seed/transplant at the same time to see which does better. I've always done them at different times and of course, the differences I see may be because of things like the weather and not the seeding method itself.

      I hope the weather turns for you soon - the only predictable thing about the weather lately is it's unpredictability!

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  4. Gorgeous photos of the tulips - it didn't occur to me that some people (Michelle?) can only have tulips as annuals (since our capital city is famous for its tulip festival!). I've always loved Gai Lan (which I've always referred to as Chinese Broccoli) - I'll be interested in seeing how it grows for you. In the picture it looks like tsoi-sim that I'm struggling to grow so maybe I'm mixed up with my asian veggies ...

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    1. I used the photo from Baker Creek because that's where I purchased the seeds - it's not exactly the best photo if you are trying to see what that variety is like, is it? I don't think you are mixed up at all. When I did a cursory search, I don't think that Kai Lan is supposed to be picked when it's flowering, but the tsoi sim apparently is, so maybe the photo above is actually of the wrong variety. I guess we'll have to wait and see what I eventually harvest from this sowing...

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  5. Lovely to see the tulip varieties you chose, some beauties there, and thank you for the mention. I've been looking at tulips again this weekend with a little garden visit, they're such lovely flowers, so many varieties that there's something for everyone's taste. I've never grown Chinese greens, do you eat a lot of Chinese food?

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    1. There are only a few tulips left standing now...I was just out there this morning deadheading all those that were fading. I'm sad to see them go.

      I fell in love with bok choy over 20 years ago. Whenever I would go to a Chinese restaurant, I would order anything if it came with "Chinese Greens", which I later found out was usually bok choy. Nowadays I eat Chinese or Thai "inspired" dishes at home maybe once a week. I also enjoy bok choy as an accompaniment to non-ethnic dishes as a simple stir-fried green - yum yum! I'm hoping that I find all (or at least most) of the different Chinese greens I'm growing this year just as delicious.

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  6. Nice selection of colors for teh tulips, they are beautiful. The tatsoi is fairly easy to glow and does taste good. I've had mixed results with other Asian greens, except the choy. My trouble with choy this year is I forgot to start it! Went to plant out the greens and no choy. Although most of these start fine when direct seeded, it has been so dry this year that none would have germinated so I started them indoors.

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    1. Ugh - realizing that I have missed a particular variety has happened to me a few times too. With the choy, you do still have time - I've been able to grow a variety called Joi Choi Hybrid throughout the summer months; it's very productive & quite resistant to bolting.

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