How to Grow Chinese Broccoli
This is one of my favorite cabbage varieties, Chinese broccoli. It's especially perfect for the shorter days of fall and winter. Try growing it too!
I really want to take a moment to praise a delicious and still somewhat unknown favorite of mine called Kailaan, or Chinese broccoli. Not a lot of people have heard about and most garden enthusiasts I know here in Sweden haven't tried to grow it. I actually don't see it in the supermarket very often either! But, you can grow it. And you should! This is the best time of the year for the Chinese broccoli, which is why I wanted to show you a few pictures and write a bit more it now.
More about fall gardening: The first frost in the garden
The Kailaan is actually a Chinese cabbage variety, like for example bok choy, mizuna, napa cabbage and many other fast-growing types that thrive when the days get shorter.
When the Chinese broccoli is a seedling, it looks just like any other cabbage plant. But then, the stalk grows thick and around 10 inches (ca 25 cm) tall. By now, we can also see beautiful matte, green leaves growing from the stem.
I harvest Chinese broccoli by simply cutting the new shoots growing above the leaves. If the fall weather is mild and damp, then you can probably harvest your shoots more than once. Just make sure to do it before the broccoli develops flowers.
In the Kitchen
This cabbage variety has a lovely, mild flavor that doesn't need much seasoning. So, I just sear it in a pan with a nice vegetable oil, a splash of lemon and a pinch of salt. It's so incredibly delicious! I try to tell my children that we're having broccoli whenever I cook it at home, since they know what it is. New greens and vegetables that are hard to categorize are usually met with suspicion though. But the Chinese broccoli can easily replace our regular broccoli varieties in any savory pie or soup!
Of course, we have fewer pests now that it's getting colder. That's why I think it's a good idea to have a selection of fast-growing vegetables during this time of the year. This is the perfect bridge between the lovely fresh vegetables of summer and the cold-hardy winter vegetables. I try to eat plenty of napa cabbage during this time of the year. That way, we don't get too tired of eating for example kale later!
It's actually really easy to grow Chinese Broccoli. Sow it in the same way as any other Chinese cabbages. I think that we get the best results if we sow it in late winter or late summer. These types of cabbages generally like shorter days and often bolt fast in hot summer weather. When the cabbage bolts, the leaves and stalks don't grow as well at all. So, sow in late summer and harvest in fall instead. The plants in the pictures were sowed in July and I was able to harvest them six weeks after that. Well into fall here in zone 3!
More about broccoli: Late broccoli harvest
I hope this article inspired you to try this delicious Chinese broccoli. Don't forget to check out my other content about cabbage here on the blog. Good luck!
I have never tasted these as these are usually quite pricey at stores. Baker Creek has been out of these seeds the last few months, so I'm waiting for them to come back in-stock and will try them next autumn/winter. I see a lot of gardeners in our area struggle with growing broccoli because it does not always form a head, and since I don't have much garden space, I can't risk growing something that may not produce but will take up a lot of room. Therefore, Chinese broccoli it will be and I can't wait.