17
September
2013

European & Asian Greens Now Available

Assorted GreenEach year we offer an assortment of ornamental edibles for the autumn season. We draw mainly from the Asian leaf vegetables because they are both colorful and tasty, but we have included a number of notable European cultivars as well. Each year we add more to our line, selecting for both flavor and ornamental value. Use these vegetables to create interesting decorative containers (that you can eat) or attractive front garden displays (that you can harvest).

EDIBLE KALES

Kale Starbor
‘Starbor’

Frost brings out the sweet, nutty flavor in kale leaves. Cut outer leaves so the center continues to grow:

‘Ripbor’ has a rich, sweet flavor, frilly blue-green leaves, and grows about 24 inches tall. It’s more compact than ‘Winterbor’ and is noted for the rapid regrowth of its leaves.

‘Winterbor’ is a Dutch hybrid that grows 24–36 inches tall with large fans of frilly blue-green leaves. It is very winter hardy plus it’s juicy and sweet after the frosts.

‘Starbor’ has bright green, densely curled leaves. It’s more of a production kale; instead of harvesting leaves one at a time, you can harvest them all in one cut of the knife. ‘Starbor’s’ uniform habit makes it great on the windowsill for a year-round supply of baby kale leaves. Heavy harvesting keeps the plant short.

Here’s a kitchen tip: lemon juice breaks down kale’s tough leaves just enough to make them tender.

EDIBLE CABBAGES

Pac Choi
Pac Choi

Homegrown cabbages are much sweeter than the store-bought varieties and they are very easy to grow:

From Northern Europe we have ‘January King’, an edible cabbage with ornamental markings of red and burgundy on the wrapper leaves. Three-to-five pound heads of cabbage are well-known for their good crunch and flavor. It’s very winter hardy—not even severe frosts bother it. Originally introduced in France, today this is considered a traditional British cabbage.

Chinese Cabbage, or Pac Choi, is a subspecies of turnip grown for its thick white stems and dark glossy tops, but not for its root. This standard variety is used extensively in Chinese cooking. The flavor is mellow—somewhere between a mild cabbage and spinach—and it vaguely resembles celery in the garden.

Pac Choi ‘Win Win’ is a smaller, more compact version of the standard Pac Choi, with an attractive vase shape that looks lovely in the garden. This variety grows fast in the fall and has fatter stems as well. It’s a good choice for those who prefer to use baby Pac Choi leaves in the kitchen.

EDIBLE MUSTARDS

Garnet Giant
‘Garnet Giant’

Most edible mustards are grown for the cut-and-come-again garden as baby mustard leaves to use in salad mixes. While all of these varieties work well in salads, they can also mature into the more traditional mustards we use for soups and stews. Red-frilled mustards are popular ingredients in both Asian and South American cuisines, but fancy red mustards are hard to find in most supermarkets—precisely why you should grow your own:

‘Garnet Giant’ offers mildly spicy flavor and has purple-splashed leaves with slightly toothed margins. It colors early and goes on to form one of the darkest of all the mustards, so look to it for the darkest baby mustard leaves for salads. Stems are lime green.

‘Dragon's Tongue’ features a balance of both sweet and spicy flavors, a difficult achievement for a mustard. Leaves are very frilly and scrunched and are colored a light lettuce-style green. What makes it remarkable? Striking deep purple edges bleed into the green.

‘Red Mustard’, originally from China, is the standard—the same as the green except for its red coloring. In salads as a baby leaf it adds spice and color; when cooked, it turns mild and green. A light blanching helps it retain a lot of its peppery bite; longer cooking leads to a mellower flavor.

‘Asian Red Rain’ is a mild mustard with deep burgundy leaves and a heavier tooth to the leaf. It’s another popular baby mustard for salads. This is one of the few varieties you can eat raw without mixing in other greens to lighten the flavor, although mature leaves do have that peppery zing.

‘Asian Purple Mizuna’ is incredibly branched and toothed with a deep purple color. This is the salad green to choose for the thin filament leaf that’s a hallmark of fancy mixes. It has a mild peppery flavor, but it’s not as strong as arugula.

‘Ruby Streaks’ is another deeply serrated mustard green. It has highly contrasting colors: purple leaves with lime green stems. The texture is delicate and the flavor is mildly peppery. Colors intensify as the weather cools. This variety is pretty enough to plant in the garden up front and is a good choice for container lettuce gardens.

‘Scarlet Frill’, from Japan, is a salad mustard that can be an ornamental when mature. Rich purple leaves become heavily frilled as they age but are tender, lacy and lightly spicy when harvested as baby leaves.

CHICORY

Radicchio di Treviso

‘Radicchio di Treviso’ is an heirloom chicory from Italy. Radicchio is most famous as the red cabbage that is found in fancy salad mixes and this one is the classic tall Italian radicchio—upright and columnar like romaine. Its green and red wrapper leaves hide a stunning red and white center that is sweet. This cultivar is suitable for harvesting from the end of summer throughout the winter.

GREENS

Red Veined Sorrel
Red Veined Sorrel

Red Veined Sorrel provides some of the prettiest greens you will find. The leaf is light green and the veins are dark red. It is the mildest sorrel we know, but the flavor is sharp and tangy in salads—kind of lemony. Harvest leaves when they are young.

Red Leaf Amaranth is a Caribbean specialty green grown for both leaf and grain. Small oval leaves have burgundy red markings in the centers. The flavor echoes a hearty spinach that is sweet and slightly tangy.

From China through Japan comes Britton Shiso. It has a complex flavor: a mixture of basil and mint with a cinnamon-like aroma. Add sweetness to salads with it, especially those that include fruits or nuts. The leaves are green on top and burgundy underneath. This green can be substituted for mint in Mojitos or used in any mint recipe for an interesting twist.

Magenta Spreen, or Lamb’s Quarters, has a spinach-like flavor but a very unusual leaf: you’ll find a splash of hot magenta-pink at the top of each stem. Spreen belongs to the same family as spinach, beets and chard; it has been grown and eaten off and on as far back as Neolithic times. Harvest aggressively; mature plants can reach up to six or nine feet in height.

SWISS CHARD

Bright Yellow
‘Bright Yellow’

A member of the beet family, chards are bred for their greens instead of for their roots. Great for salads when harvested young, the leaves can be brazed or sautéed when plants are older and the greens are thicker. In addition, leaves are large enough to be used as green sandwich wraps, for those avoiding bread or grain in their diet. Swiss chard is considered an easy-to-grow alternative to spinach:

‘Bright Lights’ is one of the prettiest vegetables we know, with a rainbow of colors along its stems. Leaves are burgundy and green and have a milder flavor than standard Swiss chard. ‘Bright Lights’ grows to about 20 inches and is a terrific choice for perking up containers.

‘Magenta Sunset’ has strong purple-red stems. Compact for a Swiss chard, it is ideal for urban or container gardens. Although small, it still has that rich chard flavor.

‘Rhubarb’ is named for its stem color. While the plant may look like a miniature rhubarb, that’s where any similarity ends—it is a chard with standard chard flavor. The stems are much thinner and the plant emphasizes the leaf, so this is the cultivar to choose in order to produce the most greens. It grows to about 16 inches—one of our shortest chards.

‘Bright Yellow’ has banana-yellow stems with strong, glossy green leaves over the top. A great contrast to ‘Magenta Sunset’, this is another vegetable that looks great in the front yard. The flavor is mild and sweet with young leaves better in salads and older leaves perfect for blanching or steaming. It reaches about 20 inches in height.

OTHER TASTY TREATS

Amethyst
‘Amethyst’

‘Flashy Trout’s Back’ is a spotted lettuce—very unusual. Of course we just had to try it! This is an Austrian heirloom lettuce that is a deep green romaine splashed with wine-red spots. It is the closest thing we know to a display lettuce. Since it is very easy to grow it’s a good choice for a child’s first gardening experience. This selection is very tender for a romaine and actually is closer to a butterhead in flavor and texture.

An heirloom from the 1840s, ‘Bull’s Blood’ is a deep red beet known for its astonishingly dark reddish-purple (almost black) leaves. Very sweet when harvested as baby beets, the tops are great in salads and the bottoms are delicious root vegetables. Tops will grow to about 16 inches.

‘Amethyst’ is the only purple Genovese-type basil we know, nearly black in color when grown in full sun. The flavor is very sweet—use fresh leaves in salads or sandwiches or as a topping for fresh cheese or tomatoes. When cooked, this variety will turn the color of a sauce or pesto very dark. It grows about 16 to 20 inches in height.

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