As Northern growers, we’ve chosen to “go deep” on the exploration of brassicas. This genus, in general, performs exceptionally well in northern gardens.
For the most part, this genus is well understood in western cultures. It encompasses the usual favorites including your cabbage, broccoli, cauliflower, kale, brussels sprouts and so on. It’s the staple of the northern grower and you’d be wise to push hard into their production.
It was last year that a “new to us” brassica hit our radar. It’s anything “but” a new brassica, just not a brassica that’s common to find in western cultures. As such, we had to figure out how to work with it, how to cook with it and how it responds in our northern gardens.
To say that Komatsuna didn’t win our hearts over is an understatement. With exceptional field hardiness and natural resistance to pests, this “new to us” brassica has been a hands down brassica favorite of our garden for the last couple years. It earned it’s place in our our growing efforts, from establishing itself as a reliable cold-hardy crop to being exceptionally tasty in our cooking.
Probably most similar to kale, it produces fine leaves and stalks that are more like a pac choi (or bok choy) in flavor. Unlike those pak choi, though, Komatsuna features exceptional resistance to heat and are unlikely to flower in our summer heat waves. They’ve become a go-to in everything from the traditional stir-fry to experimental dishes that help us better understand how to best use this fantastic northern veg.
This is one of the big reasons we’ve taken a “global” approach to our northern gardens. We welcome varieties from around the world. Instead of assuming we’ve got it all figured out, and just growing what we know, we choose to grow the unfamiliar and see how it works out in our gardens and our diet.
More often than not, it surprises us and becomes a welcome introduction. And that’s why these lesser known things get regular rotation in our social presence. They deserve it and we’re aiming to change that western culture, for all the reasons stated above.