Growing Asian Vegetables: Mizuna

This is the fourth installment in a series about my experiences growing Asian vegetables. You can find the other articles by clicking on the tag “Growing Asian Vegetables” at the bottom of this post.

Are you familiar with mizuna? It’s quite possible you and many others have eaten mizuna and never realized it, since it’s a common ingredient in salad green mixes you find at the grocery. And there’s a good reason it finds its way into those mixes. Mizuna is quick and easy to grow, cold hardy, mild tasting, and very lovely to look at too. The crisp leaves are sturdy and keep well after harvest, and they add some ‘loft’ to salad mixes. Mizuna is also tasty when cooked, useful in soups, lightly steamed, or stir-fried by itself or with other vegetables and meats. And that makes it pretty versatile in the kitchen as well as in the garden.

mizuna seedlings (click on any image to enlarge)

Mizuna (Brassica rapa var. japonica) is botanically related to turnips, though the plant certainly doesn’t look like or taste like turnips. It grows in a clump or rosette form, with slender and juicy white leaf stalks and feathery, finely dissected green leaves. There is also a variety with reddish-purple leaves called Purple Mizuna. I like a green leaved selection called Kyoto that I have grown for the last couple of years. Early Mizuna is another widely available and popular variety.

closely planted Mizuna in greenhouse bed

Mizuna plants are tolerant to both heat and cold. It’s great for fall planting, and the plants usually survive the winter here in our zone 6b garden when protected by a cold frame or row covers. Since mizuna is a biennial, the overwintered plants will usually bolt and flower when the lengthening days of early spring arrive. The yellow flowers are attractive to bees and beneficial insects though, which makes it tempting to let it flower if you don’t need the growing space. And like most Asian greens, the flowers and flower stalks are edible. Plants allowed to flower will self-seed if left to grow long enough for seed to mature. They will readily cross with other Asian greens and turnips if they are flowering at the same time. Spring plantings of mizuna are usually slower to bolt than many other Asian greens. And while mizuna will tolerate hot summer weather, the quality of the leaves will suffer.

overwintered Mizuna flowering in mid April

Mizuna seeds can be sown in place where you want the plants to grow, or it can be sown indoors in a tray or container and transplanted outside when seedlings are 2-3 weeks old. Mizuna is fast growing, and mature plants will be ready to harvest in 6-8 weeks. Whole plants can be cut for harvest, or leaves can be cut with scissors a couple of inches above the soil line and plants will regrow leaves for a second or third cutting (cut and come again method).

mature mizuna plant after harvest

Since mizuna is great in salads, I like to add it to my mixed container plantings. It grows at about the same rate as lettuce and arugula, so it is a good choice with those and other quick growing mesclun mixes. The young mizuna leaves can be ready for cutting as soon as 20 or 25 days.

mizuna in mini salad box with other greens

If you’ve not tried growing mizuna yet, you might want to add it to your repertoire of quick and easy to grow greens. It’s not too late to sow for a fall/winter crop in many areas, or as a spring/summer crop in the southern hemisphere. It’s become a staple here at Happy Acres in all four seasons, and I’ll bet it would look and taste good in your garden as well.

Tubtrug full of mizuna greens

I’ll be back soon with the next installment highlighting another Asian vegetable. Until then, happy growing!

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5 Responses to Growing Asian Vegetables: Mizuna

  1. Daphne says:

    I love mizuna, but it didn’t make the cut this year. I think next year it might. The last time I grew it, I grew a purple variety. It was very pretty.

    • Dave says:

      I didn’t grow it this spring either. I had so much kale that overwintered, I didn’t think we would eat it. But I’ve got it going this fall, and we planted some at the Impact Community garden.

  2. Patsy says:

    I find Asian greens to be very easy and gratifying to grow. I love mizuna and have a small sowing of fall plants. Thank you for your posts on Asian greens; your post on komatsuna was what got me growing it this year and I am so glad I did!

  3. diane Nusz says:

    at what temperature do
    you sow mizuna? i am zone 5, in Michigan

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