Saturday, March 24, 2012

A Few Heirloom Asian Greens

This was my first experience growing Asian greens in Kihei.
And surprisingly, they were tolerant of our fall and winter climate.

30 days from seed

Tatsoi is my new favorite green - it's great in salads and so tasty when sauteed in olive oil or butter. It's a cool season green and I thought it might be sensitive to the intense afternoon sun so I planted it with full sun in the morning and shade in the afternoon. The plants didn't form the short classic rosette in the Kihei climate but they didn't bolt either.

 I planted Tatsoi seeds from October through February with good results. I planted it individually and in salad green mixes - it grew really fast.

Choi Sum
45 days from seed

Choi Sum brings back memories of eating really ono dim sum in Honolulu. It's a popular cart item in many Chinese restaurants that serve dim sum for lunch. They prepare Choi Sum by blanching or steaming it in a bamboo basket and serve it with oyster sauce.

Choi Sum grew fast too - so fast it was hard to get the right timing for harvesting the plants before the flowers sprung out. I planted seeds in full sun from October through February.

Ching Chang Bok Choy
75 days from seed

I grew 2 types of small bok choy that were noted to have good heat tolerance. Ho Tau Bok was so bitter it was inedible but Ching Chang was really good. Ching Chang could be harvested early or at maturity. The plants began to form a flower head at 2.5 months.

I planted bok choy in full sun from October through January.

Gai Lan
Ready to harvest at 60 days from seed

Gai Lan is a Chinese broccoli. It's not like a typical western type of broccoli as it produces a very small flower head and few side-shoots. The plants were almost ornamental with lovely paddle shaped leaves and stalks of white flowers. They grew as large as a typical broccoli plant but the draw-back to Gai Lan, at least in the Kihei climate, is that it didn't produce much broccoli.

I planted Gai Lan in full sun from October through January.

All of these Asian greens can be grown in containers. I also grew Tatsoi and Choi Sum hydroponically in a simple and inexpensive set up that can be found here:
An Inexpensive Hydroponic Method for Growing Salad Greens 


  1. Hi Jane,

    Thanks for the update. Those greens look great! I'll have to remember to try planting some of those bok choy varieties on Maui next winter...

    We just had nine days of record-breaking warm temperatures in Chicago. Predictably, there were over 40 gun-related incidents in the city over the previous weekend. Maybe it's a good thing temperatures are cooling down. I'm so glad people on Maui don't have to deal with this kind of thing.


  2. Hi Chicago Transplant! Bok Choy will probably grow really well for you all year in Pukalani. I can't believe how warm it was this winter all through the US. It was pretty hot in Kihei. That's awful that there were 40 shootings over the weekend. I'm so spoiled living on Maui - we have so few incidents like that here.

  3. Ching chang? Never heard of them... But they do look really pretty. I must look around to see if I can find the seeds too. Do they taste like the normal Bok Choy?

  4. Hi Sri! The seeds are from Baker Creek
    It can be harvested early or at maturity. I really like this variety - it had a mild flavor and wasn't bitter at all.

  5. Your Choy sum looks really leafy with thick stalks. Mine don't get that big and then it starts to flower. Beautiful Asian greens..

  6. I grew tatsoi for the first time this past winter. It really does seem to tolerant just about anything.

  7. Growing Choy Sum here is always tricky. But tatsoi is usually easy to grow, and one of my favorites.

  8. Hi Linda! I think choi sum is either heat sensitive or day length sensitive. The seeds I planted in the fall grew fairly large before they flowered. But the seeds I planted in February were about half the size and they flowered within 30 days instead of 45+.

    Hi Robin! Tatsoi is a really interesting green. I hope you liked it - I just love the stuff. It's so cool that it grows in just about any climate.

    Hi Dave! It was hard to figure out when to harvest the choy sum before it flowered. I had never eaten tatsoi before I grew it and it was so ono!

  9. It's very interesting blog ,great information thanks for sharing this post.Activities in Maui

  10. Your blog made more interested in gardening and growing backyard vegetables such as these. No need to buy from market if I can grow leafy greens just in my backyard. Thank you for sharing your thoughts.

    1. I'm so happy my blog inspired you! It's easy to grow greens and they are so much fresher when you grow them yourself.