Each season, more crispy, succulent and nutritious Asian vegetables
appear at our markets nationwide early in the spring. If you have
tended to relegate them to the exotic category only encountered as
restaurant fare, early spring months of lean vegetable choices are a
perfect time for exploring their flavors to brighten up winter-jaded
appetites. We import the best varieties of seed for these Asian
specialties from where they've grow best in their countries of
origin and you'll find growing many of them especially suited to the
cool conditions of the early spring garden.
Besides being versatile and easy growing, you’ll find Asian
vegetables offer rich colors, graceful forms and mouth pleasing
textures. You can use them not only in traditional stir fries, but
also in soups, pickles, sautés, braises, to stuff or wrap with
fillings, and as welcome cool weather salad greens. All of these
specialties have the added advantage of being chock full of
naturally occurring vitamin C, calcium and beta carotene, are good
sources of essential minerals and high in dietary fiber, so you can
add healthy benefits to eating well by enjoying them.
Renee's Garden Seed
Baby Pak Choi,
Chinese Chives (also called Garlic Chives)
Edamame -- Edible Soybeans
Renee's Stirfry Mix Greens
To purchase these and other Renee's Garden Seeds,
”Green Fortune” Baby
Pak Choi has 6 to 8 inch tall green vase shaped - heads with broad,
pale green crunchy leaf stalks that contrast handsomely with their
dark green leaves. The heads grow multiple stalks that form an urn
shape. Pak Choi has a slightly sweet, very mild cabbage flavor and
very juicy stalks. Separate and chop both stalks and leaves to use.
Besides, stir frying with scallions, fresh ginger and garlic, then
finishing with soy or Thai peanut sauce, I enjoy the leafy stalks in
chicken soup or as a quick saute with snow pea pods and red sweet
pepper and carrots. When you thin the plants to their final spacing,
the young thinnings with just 4 to 6 tender leaves are particularly
tender and tasty. The remaining heads quickly grow into full heads
making this great spring crop one of my favorites for extended
continuous harvesting in the garden.
Cook all baby Pak Choi very simply to enjoy their tenderness. I
sometimes steam or sauté the heads whole just until tender crisp as
a side dish with broiled ham steak, roasted pork or chicken. Or you
can stuff the little vase shaped heads like you would an artichoke
and steam them in chicken broth.
Growing Pak Choi: Pak Choi thrives in rich soil and
cool growing conditions. Be sure to thin seedlings and keep well weeded
and watered for best tasting crunchy heads. Feed 2 or 3 times during the
growing season with fish emulsion or another high nitrogen fertilizer.
To Plant Outdoors: In very
early spring as soon as ground can be worked, prepare a well-drained,
fertile garden bed in full sun. Sow seeds 2 inches apart in rows spaced
12 inches apart. Cover 1/4 inch deep and keep soil evenly moist to
ensure good germination. Sow again in late summer for another fast
To Start Early Indoors:
Sow seeds in a container of seed starting mix 2 inches apart and cover
1?4 inch deep. Keep moist and provide a strong light source until
seedlings are about 3 inches tall and ready to plant in the garden.
Thin or Transplant: Space
seedlings 6 inches apart to give plants room to mature. Use early
thinnings in salads
Harvest and Use: Cut whole vase-shaped little heads
when they are plump and well filled out. Chop coarsely for delicious
quick stir fries, or braise in a little butter and broth just until
tender-crisp. Green Fortune is mild and sweet tasting and chock full of
vitamins and anti-oxidants.
Chinese Chives (also called Garlic Chives)
One of my favorite fresh herbs, Chinese chives, combines the flavor
of garlic and the sweet oniony taste of chives in a perfect
marriage. The 10 to 12 inch long, strappy flat leaves are
scrumptious whenever you want a hint of garlic flavor without the
fuss! Use fresh as they lose their savor when cooked. I snip them
into ½ inch pieces to sprinkle over fresh salads or on top of most
steamed vegetables or a plate of juicy sliced tomatoes. They are
wonderful in potato or pasta salads, with scrambled eggs, or even
deep fried to finish a rice dish. When your plants begin to bloom
with pretty white flowers – break up and sprinkle the individual
florets over salads for an ornamental and edible flower garnish.
Growing garlic chives: Garlic chives grow slowly at first, but soon
mature into sturdy bright green mounds crowned with pretty white
edible blossoms in late spring and summer. After bloom finishes,
shear entire plant back to 4 inches to encourage regrowth of tender
new leaves. These hardy, self-sufficient plants are attractive
additions to the flower or herb garden. The green strappy leaves
form neat mounding plants with pretty white edible blossoms. This
permanent perennial herb is a joy to have ready at hand– a gardening
To Plant Outdoors: In the cool weather of early spring, sow garlic
chive seeds 1 inch apart in well-worked, fertile garden soil in sun
or part shade. Cover 1?4 inch deep and press soil firmly over seeds.
Keep evenly moist as seeds germinate slowly over several weeks.
Emerging seedlings have flat, grass-like leaves that form soft
mounds at maturity.
To Start Early Indoors: In early spring, sow seeds thinly in a
container of seed starting mix and cover 1?4 inch deep. Keep evenly
moist as seedlings slowly emerge and provide a good light source
until ready to plant outdoors. Transplant when seedlings are 3 to 4
inches tall after gradually acclimating plants to outdoor
Thin or Transplant: Space little groups of 3 or 4 seedlings10 to 12
One of the most familiar of Asian vegetable specialties, crisp sugar
sweet tender snow peas are the original edible podded peas. Look for
good 2 ½ to 3 ½ inch bright green flat pods with barely formed
minuscule peas inside and unblemished flat pods. When you grow your
own, the fresh pods are at the peak of flavor. They are delicious
chopped in pieces and added to green salads where their earthy
sweetness adds texture, substance and flavor. Or sauté with chunks
of yellow summer squash and carrots cut into coins for an easy and
colorful side dish. Remember to cook very briefly – 30 to 45 seconds
is enough as you want to preserve the peas’ crisp texture.
Growing snow peas:
Oregon Giant bears huge yields of sweet, exceptionally large, 5 inch
crispy flat pods on sturdy short vines. These are the finest
vigorous snowpeas you’ll find were bred at Oregon State University
especially for home garden fresh harvest and they have wonderfully
sweet flavor and extra crunchy texture. An especially rewarding
crop to plant and enjoy with children who will happily snack on them
all day! Use netting or wire trellis or short tree branches stuck into the
ground to support these heavy bearing vines for easy picking. Turn a
sprinkling of bone meal and wood ashes into the soil before
planting. Keep pea vines well weeded and watered, and mulch to
Start Seeds Outdoors: In early spring, as soon as soil can be
worked, plant peas in full sun in well-worked, fertile soil. Sow
seeds 1 inch deep and 2 to 3 inches apart. Sow seeds in wide rows or
bands 3 inches across, spacing the wide rows 2 feet apart. Provide
supports for these 2 1?2 foot vines at planting time. Protect from
marauding birds with netting or floating row covers if necessary. If
first sowing doesn’t germinate evenly, replant right away as new
seedlings catch up quickly. Sow again for a fall crop about 2 1/2
months before first expected fall frost.
Harvest and Use: Pick peas frequently when pods are fully formed but still flat with
tiny immature peas. Cook very quickly, just until they turn a deeper
green color. Or enjoy the juicy pods raw as you pick them from the
In most areas of the country, eggplants are warm weather crops.
Start your seeds indoors or in a greenhouse about six or seven weeks
before outside nighttime temperatures rise regularly to the 50s.
From plump finger length to 8 - 10 inches long and elongated like
slender cucumbers, Asian eggplants come in a gorgeous rainbow of
pinky- magenta, deep purple, creamy-white, and delicately striped
fruits. They are thinner and more tender skinned than their European
counterparts, with creamy, mild flesh that has a creamy, nutty
quality. Asian types have no bitterness under their skins, so never
need presalting to remove metallic off-flavors. Slice them in half
lengthwise, brush with oil and grill to luscious perfection, or
slice into ½ inch coins to toss in a quick sauté with other summer
veggies. Be sure to pick these tender eggplants that are shiny and
firm to the touch; avoid fruits that are limp, softened or dull-
Growing Asian Eggplants: Our mixed seed packet contains three excellent varieties of hybrid
Asian eggplants: Asian Bride, Charming, and Farmer’s Long for an
multiple clusters of elongated fruits on well-branched, extra-early
plants. Seeds are color coded with USDA food grade stain to
distinguish varieties; make sure to plant some of each. Don’t
transplant these heat-lovers outdoors until night temperatures stay
securely above 55°. Prepare soil well with aged manure or compost. Plant
only robust seedlings with well-developed roots and mulch well.
Fertilize plants regularly throughout the season.
Best to Start Indoors
In early spring, start indoors about 2 months before outdoor night
temperatures are reliably in the 50 to 55° range. Sow seeds 1?4 inch
deep and 1 inch apart in a container of seed starting mix. Keep
moist and warm (80 to 85°) and provide a strong light source until
seedlings are ready to plant outside. When seedlings are 2 inches
tall, transplant 2 to 3 inches apart into deeper containers.
Maintain at 70 to 75°. Feed with half-strength fertilizer every 2
weeks until weather is warm enough to gradually acclimate seedlings
to outdoor conditions. Transplant 2 feet apart into rich soil in
Harvest and Use
Pick when fruits have sized up and are firm fleshed and glossy.
Harvest Charming babies at 3 to 6 inches, Asian Bride at 7 to 8
inches, and Farmers Long at 9 to 11 inches, or before fruits get
dull and seedy.
Edamame -- Edible Soybeans, Fresh Soybeans
Long a staple pleasure of Japanese cuisine, cooked edamame are
beginning to appear in the prepared food sections of supermarkets
these days and everyone who tries them becomes quickly addicted to
these tasty, healthy snacks. It's really easy to grow them if you
have the right variety which we are taking care to provide after
careful trials of seed strains imported directly from Japanese
breeders. Edamame grow like other bush beans, but with a more
concentrated harvest. They are flavor is nutty, buttery and truly
irresistible fresh from the garden and they pack top nutritional
value. Cook them up quickly, right in their pods, for appetizers and
snacks by dropping the whole pods in boiling salted water for just
three to five minutes, or just until beans inside the pods are
tender (Fresh picked edamame will take less time to cook then
anything you may have purchased, so watch closely and do not
overcook). Drain and salt lightly. Eat hot or at room temperature by
squeezing beans from the pod with your teeth. These widely adapted
2 foot tall bush plants offer consistently high yields of large 3 to
3-1/2 inch green pods with 3 to 4 delicious beans per pod.
Growing Edamame: Edamame is easy and reliable to grow, but wait until weather warms
before planting; cold and/or wet conditions prevent good
germination. If first sowing comes up unevenly, replant right away;
new seedlings catch up quickly. Be sure to thin to final 6 inch
spacing for best pod production. Birds are often attracted to young
seedlings, so watch carefully and protect with netting or floating
row cover if necessary. Avoid cultivating plants when wet.
Start Seeds Outdoors
In spring, once weather is warm and night temperatures stay securely
above 50°, sow in well-worked, fertile soil in full sun. Plant seeds
1 inch deep and 3 inches apart in rows 2 feet apart. When seedlings
are several inches tall, thin to final spacing of 6 inches apart.
Make several sowings a few weeks apart until the end of June or
early July to provide staggered harvests.
As edamame ripen, the beans swell in the pods. Pick promptly when
pods are plump and beans are almost touching each other inside the
pods but before the pods turn yellow. Once beans are ripe, harvest
will be concentrated over a short period of time. These widely
adapted 2 foot tall bush plants offer consistently high yields of
large 3 to 3-1/2 inch green pods with 3 to 4 delicious beans per