Each month Redawna Kalynchuk draws on her extensive gardening experience to help you Grow Your Own Food in Canada. In some areas, it can be hard to find some varieties of vegetables at the grocery store. The solution? Grow your own! Here's five specialty vegetables you can grow in your Canadian garden.
Some of my very favourite specialty vegetables aren't always available my small town grocery store. Things like Bok Choy, Chinese Cabbage, Gai Lan, and Daikon. The great news is that you can grow them all easily at home. In fact, they're cool weather-loving crops, so that makes them perfect for all Canadian gardens. In areas where it's warmer these crops can be grown in early spring and late fall.
Here are five specialty vegetables you can start growing in your Canadian garden. The care and growth are quite similar for all, though some have longer days to harvest so plan accordingly. All varieties in this article can be grown in cool or shady areas of your yard and garden.
How To Grow Bok Choy
Bok Choy is part of the Brassica family, which makes this a cool weather-loving crop. You can start it early in the spring, planting seeds directly in the garden as soon as the risk of frost has passed. Cooler areas of the garden and partially shaded areas are great spots to plant.
Be sure to work the soil well and add amendments like peat moss and compost to the planting area. Space seeds about 10 to 15 centimetres apart in rows and space rows one foot apart. If starting seeds indoors, you can start them in April. Seedlings can be moved into the garden during the last week of May. Bok Choy can tolerate light amounts of frost.
For a continual harvest throughout the season do succession planting every two weeks. Most varieties are ready to harvest 45 to 60 days after planting.
How To Grow Chinese Cabbage
Chinese Cabbage, otherwise known as Napa Cabbage, is part of the Brassica family, which makes this another cool weather-loving crop.
Much like Bok Choy, Napa Cabbage can be directly seeded into the garden early in spring as soon as the risk of frost has passed. You can find your frost date information in this post where we look at the frost dates for our areas. If you choose to start seeds indoors you can do so in April and move the seedlings out to the garden during the last week of May.
Space plants about 30 centimetres apart. For a continual harvest for the season, do succession planting every two weeks. Most varieties are ready for harvest 55 to 95 days after direct seeding.
How to Grow Gai Lan
Gai Lan or Chinese Broccoli/Chinese Kale also loves cool weather. Gai Lan prefers to be direct seeded into the garden. Plant after the risk of frost has passed. Be sure to work the soil well adding amendments like peat moss and compost. Space seeds five centimetres apart. Do succession planting every two weeks to assure a season-long harvest.
Most varieties are ready for harvest 50 to 55 days after planting. Harvest the stalks and leaves when the plants are up to 20 centimetres tall.
How To Grow Tah Tsai
Tah Tsai or Chinese Savory/Spinach Mustard also belongs to the Brassica family. This crop favours cool weather and prefers to be direct seeded into the garden after the risk of frost has passed. Work the soil well in the planting area, adding amendments like peat moss and compost. Space seeds approximately 15 centimetres apart. For a continuous harvest, succession plant weekly.
Tah Tsai is ready to harvest 25 to 40 days after direct seeding.
How to Grow Daikon Radishes
While Daikon Radishes are another cool weather-loving crop, they will tolerate some warmth. Where it gets very warm in the summer months it's best to grow Daikon in the early spring and fall.
Growing Daikon Radishes is similar to growing traditional radishes, though Daikon needs more room to grow and the time to harvest is longer than for smaller radish varieties.
Direct seed into the garden, spacing seeds 15 centimetres apart. Plants are harvestable 60 to 75 days after direct seeding.
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Grow Your Own Food is written by Redawna Kalynchuk. Redawna is the writer, photographer and content creator at Nutmeg Disrupted. She has over 20 years of gardening experience and has gardened from indoors under high-powered lights to frosty zone 2b gardens in northern Alberta. She enjoys pushing the boundaries of traditional gardening and loves empowering others to grow their own food. You can follow her on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Pinterest.