Thursday 10 March 2011

Oriental Brassicas doubly protected

Early March is the time I start sowing most of my seeds. I have now sowed Chillis, Tomatoes, Physalis, Baby Leaf Salad, Cabbage, Broccoli, Kohlrabi, and several more besides. Amongst other things I have put in a small batch of Oriental Brassicas. I am going to try these first as "Baby Leaf Salad" ingredients, to be harvested when they are only 2 or 3 inches tall, and then a bit later on I will try growing some of them to maturity.

Komatsuna - photo courtesy of Takaeko

I sowed the first batch in an old washing-up bowl. These things make great containers for small veg, because they are deeper than most seed-trays, allowing the plants to put down some better roots. You do need to drill a few drainage holes though, otherwise the compost may become waterlogged.

The three varieties that went into this container were Mustard "Osaka Purple", Komatsuna "Torasan", and  Bekana "Tokyo". I have never grown any of these before, but I have high expectations, having read about them on blogs maintained by some of my Japanese friends, for instance Takaeko, from Osaka

After sowing the seeds I covered the bowl with a sheet of clear acrylic, like this...

And then I put the bowl in one of my little plastic greenhouses, so the seedlings when they emerge will have a double layer of protection, at least in the early stages of their development. The night-time temperatures here are still hovering around the Zero point, and even the day-time temperatures are only in single figures most days, so these seeds will need all the help they can get, even though the growing-instructions say you can sow them from Late Winter onwards.

In fact, I think I might try to bring the Oriental Brassicas container indoors until the seeds germinate (if I can find some space...)

I'd be interested to hear from anyone else in the UK who has grown Oriental Brassicas before, so that we can compare notes.

P.S. Since I drafted this post, things have moved on... Almost all the "ordinary" Brassicas - e.g. the cabbages and various Broccoli-style things - germinated really rapidly, in fact within 3 days. I had them in pots covered with plastic bags, placed on my Dining Room table. Evidently they enjoyed the warmth! I have decided however to grow then "hard" - in other words I have already moved them outside, though still in their pots, still protected by their little plastic bags. I want them to get lots of light, but not to be too warm, so that they develop slowly but sturdily rather than going leggy on an indoors windowsill. At night time they will go in one of the plastic mini-greenhouses for added protection. I think this strategy is going to be OK, because the weather forecast for the next few days doesn't look too bad.

An added benefit of my plan is that I will still have the windowsills free for other seedlings! I'd better sow something else... Herbs next. I've got some Basil, and both Summer and Winter Savory. And Parsley is already on the go.

P.S. More pictures of the younger generations of my family working in the garden are on Emma's blog Mellow Mummy today.


  1. Have you grown physalis before? I tried one year but didn't have any luck with them. Perhaps they'd be better being grown in a greenhouse, they do seem to take up quite a bit of space though.

  2. Hi Jo; I have not grown Physalis before, though I did grow Tomatillos last year - and they are pretty similar I think. The Tomatillos produced a huge harvest, but we couldn't find many ways to use the fruit - not as versatile as the tomato. I'm hoping that the sweet physalis will be more useful in the kitchen - we can always make jam if we get too many.

  3. I believe your "double layer protection" against cold temperature will work out!
    Judging from the temperature on your Weather Station, I think it is almost same with that in Osaka. It's can be cold through a night but I believe your protection will enable your komatunas to germinate much faster!
    My komatunas are also growing well and I will have to thin them out this weekend.

  4. Oh my poor computer... I cannot see your lovely photos, and nor, does it seem, can I post a comment.

    This is my third try Mark, and unfortunately your lovely (presumably) oriental brassicas have still not been sighted.

  5. On the dining room table? You have one really tolerant wife!

  6. Aaaah, Green Lane Allotments, you should see what SHE keeps on the dining room table! (Sorry Mum). I grew some mystery seeds from an 'oriental salad mix' over the winter and they've been really tasty, rather like mustard greens. Looking forward to more and better ones now that spring is here.

  7. Excuse me Feefielou but how am I supposed to make cards without space to make them? And in fact it was YOU that got me started on rubberstamping.

  8. This made me smile - at this time of year I always find myself juggling things around, this year with the allotment, its even worse, and lots of things are being thrown into the cold frame to make room in the greenhouse. I haven't sown my oriental greens yet but when I've checked which I went for in the end I will enjoy swapping notes with you.


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