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Thompson & Morgan®: Vegetable Growing Guide

Chinese Vegetables

Interesting flowers, versatility in use and the ease with which they can be grown make Chinese vegetables valuable additions to western gardens. There's the bonus that most of them are ready to harvest in late autumn and winter when the choice of traditional vegetables is rather restricted.

Chinese Cabbages

Looking somewhat like a self-folding cos lettuce with conical hearts and crinkled leaves, are quite unlike lettuce or cabbage. The flavour is delicate and the texture crisp when eaten raw as a salad, while when cooked the flavour and nutritional value are retained.

Choose a site that is slightly alkaline but rich in organic matter and highly water retentive. Chinese cabbages are shortday plants, that's to say, they give their best performance in late autumn and early winter.

Sow direct into soil blocks or 3in (8cm) peat pots and maintain a minimum temperature of 50F (10C) from germination to planting out. Transplant at the two-leaf stage, allowing 12in (30cm) apart each way. The plants are shallow-rooted and must never be allowed to dry out. Water thoroughly and mulch with peat, home-made compost or composted bark.

After cutting, the hearts can be stored for up to three weeks in the salad compartment of the refrigerator.

Protect from cabbage root fly and rotate as a precaution against disease - see The Brassica Family.

Broad leafed Garlic Chives

Broad leafed Garlic Chives should be sown ¼in (6mm) deep in early spring and drills 12in (30cm) apart. Thin out to 9in (23cm) apart and cut off tops as required. The clumps can be divided in spring after 2 years.

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