We installed a cold frame in our vegetable garden in order to have some fresh vegetables in winter. We did get some cold loving vegetables like Chinese Broccoli, Swiss chard, kale, carrots and mustard greens. Several times the vegetables inside wilted from the cold when we couldn’t get access. In the middle of winter when snow piled two feet up the frame, we couldn’t get the door open without a lot of digging. But it still gave us a good head start for spring vegetables and we get to have fresh vegetables early in the season despite the seesaw weather.
The seeds I sow in November like spinach, Bok choi and mustard greens, sprouted early and became our first salad crops.
Then I sow more cool weather vegetables like Mizuna, Shungiku (Tang Oh), Chinese broccoli, Corn salad, arugula and more of spinach and mustard greens in March when I got access to the inside. These will become our second crop.
Since the cold frame has no ventilation, early spring is when we have to be careful. We need to leave the door open on hot days otherwise the vegetables in there will be cooked. I devote this patch under the cold frame for growing leafy vegetables because it provides shade during the summer months. Once the plastic is cover removed, I grow Bitter melon and beans and let them climb up the frame as they provide shade for the vegetables below.
With a couple days of heavy rain other vegetables in the garden double their size. Asparagus shot up a few inches a day with rain. We were supposed to cut them when they reached six inches high but…
After it was fed and with plenty of rain, our garlic, both Siberian and Rocambol garlic, got much bigger very fast. We had a good garlic crop last year and still have some left in the basement. So far this year should be good too.
I’ve been thinking of growing Edible Chrysanthemum for years but have never gotten around to it until this year. Either it was too early or too late in the growing season to sow the seeds, or I ran out of space. This spring was too cold to grow a lot of leafy vegetables so I decided to sow chrysanthemum since it loves cool weather. One package was a couple of years old (the oval leaf) but has sprouted anyway albeit a bit slowly. The freshly purchased this year (serrated-leaf) sprouted up really fast though.
Edible Chrysanthemum (Chrysanthemum coronarium) aka Tang Ho (Chinese), Shungiku (Japanese), Tang Oh (Thai), Kelsang (Tibetan) is an edible green that can be eaten raw or cooked. It tastes similar to spinach but has a stronger flavor. The most common uses are in soup, stir-fry and in salad. I don’t really know how many varieties there are in total but I grow two different kinds; the smooth oval leaf and the serrated-leaf. The taste is not much different between them.
It can be direct sown in the ground once the frost has passed. I sow them in rows like spinach and thin them when they get around 1.5 inches tall and use them in salads. The whole plant can be pulled out or just cut above the leaf node and it will grow back between the leaves. When the temperature gets too hot, I cover them with a net to filter out some of the sunlight to prolong their life span. As much as they don’t like hot weather, covering them with a net really helps. I also let some of them flower for the bees and to provide seeds for next year.
I no longer have to go to Chinatown to get an expensive, wilted bunch when I have a craving for them. But I will have to pull them out once their flowers have matured and sow another set for a fall harvest.
Edible chrysanthemum are as easy to grow as other greens and their flowers are pretty too.