Winter is the time when Asian greens really come into their own in the vegie garden.
These vegies come in a fascinating range of leaf shapes and textures.
There are smooth stems and leaves such as bok choy or the spoon-shaped tatsoi, the narrow leaves of mibuna or deeply serrated, almost frilly leaves of mizuna.
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Leaf colours vary too, from deep red to light green to cream and white. Flavours vary from mild to the spicy red-veined, red-leaved mustards. You can have fun experimenting with these vegies as they're fast and easy to grow from seed and seedlings are also available from your local nursery.
Most Asian greens are quite hardy and will continue to give some leaves for cutting throughout winter. You can pick just the outer leaves as you need them and the plant will continue to grow.
While many of these vegies will grow to maturity in just 30 days in summer, in winter they can take up to 90 days to mature, but they will continue to grow, albeit more slowly. So, if you plan your sowing, you can have a crop ready to harvest all through the winter months, with other crops coming along.
The most common Asian green is white bok choy, also known as buk choy, pak choy/choi and baak choi. It has thick, white, crisp stems and smooth round leaves similar in texture to cabbage or silver beet.
It can be used in the same ways as cabbage or spinach for quick cooking methods such as steaming and stir frying and goes well with the usual Asian flavours such as soy, ginger, black bean, hoisin and oyster sauces.
Mustard is a multipurpose plant. The greens are used for salads and in cooking, and the seeds for spices, with different varieties producing different coloured seeds. The leaves have a spicy to hot mustard flavour so smaller leaves are best in salads and the larger, older leaves cooked, which removes some of the heat.
Now that the weather has turned colder, pests such as aphids, whitefly and White Cabbage Butterfly are less of a problem.
However, you may find the odd caterpillar still surviving and feasting on your broccoli or cabbage, so keep checking your Brassicas and pick any off and feed to your chooks, or just squish them and throw in the compost.
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