Chinese vegetable varieties are versatile and delicious. While many Chinese vegetables are familiar to westerners, others are difficult to find, even in ethnic markets. The solution to this dilemma is to learn how to grow vegetables from China in your garden.
Chinese Vegetable Gardening
Perhaps some of your family hails from China and you grew up enjoying many of their traditional veggie dishes. Now you’d like to bring some of those fond memories home by growing them in your own garden.
Growing most Chinese vegetables isn’t complicated since they generally have similar growing requirements as their western counterparts. The major exceptions are water vegetables, which require conditions not found in most western gardens.
Chinese Vegetable Varieties
Brassicas are a diverse group of vigorous and rapidly growing cool weather plants. They thrive in climates with cool summers and mild winters, but with careful planning they can be grown nearly everywhere. This family of Chinese vegetables includes:
- Chinese broccoli
- Napa cabbage
- Bok choy
- Chinese cabbage
- Choy sum
- Chinese mustards
- Chinese radishes (Lo bok)
Members of the legume plant family are easy to grow and are used in three forms: snap, shell, and dried. All need plenty of warmth in order to thrive.
Like legumes, cucurbits need warm weather. Although some Chinese vegetable varieties are available in dwarf or compact forms, most need lots of space to sprawl.
- Hairy melon
- Chinese soyu cucumbers (Mongolian snake gourd)
- Winter melon (Wax gourd)
- Pickling melon
- Bitter melon
- Chinese okra (luffa)
Roots, tubers, bulbs, and corms are plants with edible parts that grow downwards. This group of vegetables is diverse in appearance, flavor, and nutrition.
- Chinese yam
- Chinese artichoke (tuberous mint)
- Oriental bunching onions
- Rakkyo (baker’s garlic)
A list of Chinese vegetable varieties should include herbs such as:
Water vegetables are aquatic plants. Most can be grown in containers large enough to hold oxygenated plants with goldfish or koi (optional) to keep the water clean and free of pests.
- Water chestnut
- Water caltrop
- Lotus root
- Water celery
- Kangkong (swamp cabbage or water spinach)