No one interested in vegetable growing can fail to be inspired by the Chinese people and the diversity and productivity of their vegetables. Traditionally Chinese farmers bred and saved their own seed, an eminently sensible practice as over the years strains were bred and selected that were adapted to the locality. This is most true of the beloved workhorses of the vegetable garden, the Brassicas, many of which have only ten chromosomes and generally intercross.
Global cuisine and an increasingly culturally diverse population have introduced these piquant greens to grower’s world wide. They are becoming an important crop for the home producer, as so many of which have proved to be ideally suited to the cooler months of autumn and spring when our choice of vegetables is limited. Many have been previously unavailable in seed form; this treasure trove of highly adaptable vegetables is becoming larger each year.
‘F1 Kuro’ is a traditional hybrid Pak Choi and Tatsoi cross, that produces plants with an upright habit, luminescent green flat stems and tender, dark green, thick glossy leaves. With the traditional advantages of Pak Choi and the Tatsoi's beautiful dark green, spoon-shaped leaves, they form a plant worthy to be grown for its culinary and decorative value.
It is suitable for both baby leaf and whole head production and can be harvested anytime during growth. As a baby leaf it has an attractive round leaf shape.
‘F1 Kuro’ matures from seed in only 45 to 50 days and is able to withstand temperatures as low as -10°C (15°F). It will often continue to grow throughout winter, and can even be harvested from beneath snow, making it one of the best vegetables to grow in a cool climate.
F1 Kuro prefers rich, moist, well drained soil with lots of organic matter. It can be sown directly into open ground or can be planted into large containers or grow bags. It is a cool-season crop typically grown in autumn and early winter, though in warmer climates harvest can continue well into winter. Some protection is required for winter harvesting. This hardy vegetable does particularly well in winter in an unheated polytunnel. Green stemmed varieties withstand adverse conditions than white stemmed forms.
Although they do better in cool weather, they are the last ones to bolt when the hot weather hits. Phasing the sowing will extend the cropping period.
Sow from Spring through to Autumn.
Sow outdoors into finely raked, moist, weed free soil. Sow seeds successionally every 2-3 weeks in spring as early as the soil can be worked. Sow in late summer for autumn and early winter harvest. For autumn sowings, (late August to early October) sow under the protection of glass/tunnels. Space the initial planting very densely, then harvest entire plants, leaving the strongest to grow to maturity.
Sow thinly, direct into finely raked, moist, weed free soil, at a depth of 1cm (¼ to ½ in). Sow very close together for baby leaf. For mature plants, sow 10 to 15cm (4 to 6in) apart with 30 to 45cm (12 to 18in) between the rows. For use as stir fry sow in 15-30cm blocks. Seeds will germinate in 5 to 15 days at temperatures between 13 to 24°C (55 to 70°F). Thin once the seedlings at 10cm (4in) tall, leaving the strongest, by degrees to a final spacing of 20cm (8in) apart.
It is important to water well in dry weather and to keep well weeded.
Provide a weak liquid feed once a week. It needs to be grown quickly and the roots must be kept moist. Checks to growth, brought on by overcrowding or drought, will cause plants to bolt. They are snail magnets, so plants need protection in the open garden.
It can be harvested at almost any stage of its growth: 21 to 28 days for babyleaf, 45 to 50 days to maturity. If large leaves are not important, just flavour, you can grow the plant to the baby stage (4 to 6 leaves) and harvest the entire plant at about 3-4 weeks. If it is to be harvested on a cut and come again basis, use the largest leaves on the outside and leave the smaller ones towards the centre to develop further. It can then be left to grow again for a second or more harvest. It is a good idea to give the plants a good drink of water and/or liquid fertilizer after each picking.
In the western style of cooking the young greens may be used raw in a simple salad. Try steaming them lightly and then drizzle with a vinaigrette dressing or simply sauté in good olive oil with garlic and a little hot pepper. Following Asian culinary traditions these greens may be stir fried, used in soups or braised.
It has a high water content and becomes limp very quickly so should be cooked very quickly over high temperature so that the leaves become tender and the stalks stay crisp.
In Chinese stir-fried dishes and soups, it is added toward the end of the cooking process. Since the leaves cook much more quickly than the stalks, it’s a good idea to add the stalks first and then the leaves about a minute later. Cut the stalks into 12mm (½in) pieces before cooking.
It keeps well and will stay fresh for more than a week, but should be used in four to five days for best flavour. Store in a plastic bag in the crisper drawer of the fridge.
Kuro is a Japanese boys name meaning "ninth son". The most common Kanji (Japanese characters) used in the name Kuro is 九郎. (九 (ku) "nine" and 郎 (rou) "son").
The name meaning can vary if alternative Kanji is chosen by the parents. Kuro can be also be written in kanji as 黒, meaning "Black".
The pronunciation has a light roll of the "ro" at the end, similar to a Japanese pronunciation of the L sound.
Nintendo have recently announced the KURO Wii. As well as giving the console the noir touch, their DSi, Wiimote and Nunchuck will also be available in black. The new colour variants go on sale in Japan from July 2009, there’s no news of a UK launch.
In the world of televisions, Pioneer are also utilising the name to promote the depth of their screens………well, I think they are referring to colour, I doubt if the name Kuro is referring to the new models being the “ninth son”
- Additional Information
Packet Size 1 gram Average Seed Count 400 Seeds Seed Form Treated Seeds Seeds per gram 400 seeds per gram Common Name Rosette Pak Choi, Spoon Mustard. Other Common Names Spinach Mustard, Oriental brassica, Asian Greens Family Brassicaceae Genus Brassica Species narinosa Synonym Brassica rapa var. rosularis Hardiness Hardy Biennial Time to Sow Sow from spring through to autumn. Time to Harvest 21 to 28 days for babyleaf, 45 to 50 days to maturity Notes Grown as an annual