Boost Profits and Prolong Growing Season with Japanese Vegetables

A Japanese Vegetable Garden Can Boost Farm Profits

Boost Profits and Prolong Growing Season with Japanese Vegetables

Whether you are looking to boost profits at a farmers market or extend your growing season, Japanese vegetables are the way to go. Japanese vegetables should be grown on the homestead because of their heavy yields, aesthetics, adaptability, and palatability. In the Japanese countryside regardless if the household is a humble farmhouse or a 21st century marvel, it is rare to see a home without a vegetable plot. Regardless of your climatic situation, make space this year for Japanese crops —  they’re delicious and resilient.

Japanese Vegetable Garden

Japanese vegetable gardens are positioned near the home and in the sunniest of locations. Many times, multiple generations are living in one house. The garden’s accessibility to all family members is important and should be incorporated into the garden design.

“People with little space put that space to use. Gardening, in general, is very big in Japan,” Jere Gettle, founder of Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds says.

Japan has many rivers, and gardens are often planted near them, or near irrigation canals to maximize growth. If you lack space, grow your Japanese vegetables vertically, with cucumbers, melons, squash, tomatoes, beans, and peas traditionally supported on long bamboo stakes cut from the hedgerow. Trellising allows for better air movement and access to more sun. Companion planting with vegetables and flowers and rotation of crops is often utilized in Japanese gardens.

japanese-vegetables
Japanese long cucumbers grow great on trellises. Photo courtesy of Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds.
japanese-vegetables
Yard long beans are good raw or cooked and produce high yields.

“What makes Japanese varieties so special is that the Japanese people stick with the project from generation to generation. Vegetables have been selected for hundreds of years for varieties which produce the most crops, most beautiful flowers, and best-tasting vegetables,” said Gettle. “Once farmers grow and taste Japanese vegetables, they often do not grow other varieties.”

In Japan, varieties are selected for first their flavor, then uniformity, and then shipping. American crops are selected first for uniformity, shipping, and then flavor. By growing Japanese vegetables you’ll be tasting some of the most flavorful crops. Selling at farmers markets reduces transportation and allows you to sell your fresh food fast.

Vegetable gardens in Japan are in use year-round. Some of the best winter vegetables include onions, garlic, carrots, and daikon radishes which are often let to sit under the snow to sweeten. Japanese bunching onions resemble strong-flavored scallions. They can be harvested for their green shoots or white stems. ‘Red Beard’ is a beautiful variety with its red stalk and looks great at a farmers market. It is easy to grow, with the red stalk reaching a foot long and the entire plant growing up to 27 inches.

japanese-vegetables
Minowase daikon radish grows huge and is sweet and crisp. Photo courtesy of Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds.

Radishes are very important in Asian gastronomy. They can be pickled, turned into a pudding, eaten raw or cooked in soups, stir-fries, and casseroles. Daikon radishes, like other radishes, are quick to grow, don’t need great soil and can be planted within existing crops. Unlike Western radishes which are small, round and red, Asian radishes can be red, pink, green, or white and oblong or tapered and range from mild to spicy. It’s easy to see customers being attracted to the variety of radishes at a farmers market. Offering free samples can help attract customers that might be aloof to the new varieties.

Early spring vegetables include many leafy greens, which are staples in soups and stir-fries. Mizuna is a mild Japanese mustard that is popular as a salad green and tastes great cooked. Mizuna has long, slender stems with serrated leaves. Colors range from lime green to red streak to purple.

japanese-vegetables
Red streaks and lime streaks mizuna. Photo courtesy of Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds.
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Benihoushi mizuna. Photo courtesy of Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds.
japanese-vegetables
Japanese pickling eggplant. Photo courtesy of Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds.

Growing vegetables in pots, as well as herbs, is convenient for those with limited space. Shiso (Perilla frutescens) is a member of the mint family with its seeds, leaves, and sprouts being used in Japanese cuisine. Its flavor is a mix of mint, anise, basil, and cinnamon along with grassy notes. Shiso has a unique flavor profile. It’s versatile and can be used to garnish drinks or flavor entrees, desserts, or fruit bowls. Chrysanthemum greens are often sold as mature leaves which should be blanched for 30 seconds, and then cooled and served with salad dressing. Growing chrysanthemum greens at home allows you to harvest young tender greens for a fresh salad or soup topping. The Japanese also dip chrysanthemum flowers into sake at the beginning of meals to symbolize good health.

japanese-vegetables
Shiso Kaori Ura. Photo courtesy of Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds.

Try These Japanese Varieties on Your Homestead

Bunching Onions

  • Evergreen White Nebuka
  • Heshiko
  • Tokyo Long White
  • Red Beard

Chrysanthemum Greens

  • Garland Round Leaved
  • Garland Serrated Leaf
  • Komi Sungiku Salada
  • Oasis

Cucumbers

  • Japanese Long Cucumber
  • Suhyo Cross
  • Summer Dance
  • Tasty Green
  • Tasty Queen
  • Zipangu

Eggplants

  • Black Shine
  • Choryoku
  • Kyoto Egg
  • Millionaire
  • Mizuno Takumi
  • Japanese Pickling Eggplant
  • Japanese White Egg Eggplant

Herbs

  • Mitsuba, Japanese Parsley
  • Red or Green Shiso
  • Japanese Mugwort var. Yomogi

Green peppers

  • Fushimi
  • Himo Togarashi
  • Managanji
  • Shishito
  • Tenderbell

Leafy Vegetables

  • Alrite spinach
  • Giant Red Mustard Greens
  • Japanese chard var. umaina
  • Misome var. choho
  • Misome var. misome
  • Mizuna
  • Wakamine cabbage

Melons

  • Japanese Cream Fleshed Suika Watermelon
  • Ichiba Kouji
  • New Melon

Radishes

  • Japanese Minowase Daikon Radish
  • Shogoin Globe
  • Sakurajima Mammoth
  • Giant Luo Buo

Tomatoes

  • House Momtaro
  • Japanese Black Trifele Tomato
  • Momotaro Tough Boy 93
  • Odoriko

Winter Squash

  • Akehime
  • Blue Kuri
  • Chirimen
  • Kogiku
  • Sweet Mama
  • Shishigatani

Do you grow Japenese vegetables? If so, what are your favorites?

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