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2022 Midwest Vegetable Guide

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Asian Vegetables – Horticulture Midwest Veg Guide 2022 81 Malabar spinach (Basella alba): This vegetable is not related to spinach, but has a similar flavor, and can be grown in the hot summer months. In its native range of Southeast Asia it grows as a perennial. But it can be seeded as a frost- killed annual in the midwestern United States. It grows as a vine, and should be trellised like peas or runner beans. Pea shoots and leaves (Pisum sativum): Before, during, and after pod formation on pea plants, young shoots from the middle and top sections of the plant can be clipped 3 to 4 inches from the growing tip for bunching or bagging. Sweet potato vines and leaves (Ipomoea batatas): This vegetable is grown all over the world for its sweet storage roots. But the leaves are commonly consumed in Asia too. Harvest the top 10 inches of vines for bunching or bagged loose leaf. Cucurbit Vegetables Bittermelon (Mormodica charantia): This vegetable is native to India. Like cucumbers and squashes, bittermelon is a member of the Cucurbit family. It is a warm-season vegetable. It is usually grown on a trellis system and its fruit is about the size of a summer squash. The trellis should be 6- feet high and 4 to 6 feet apart. The seeds can be planted directly in the field or grown as seedlings and then transplanted to a field spacing of 1-1/2 to 2 feet between plants and 3 to 5 feet between rows. Bittermelon is harvested green before there is any color change. Bright orange fruits are saved for seed collection. Calabash (Lagenaria siceraria): Also known as snake gourd, bottle gourd, or opo. This vegetable is grown like winter squash for the ornamental hard-shelled mature fruit and used for making food and drink utensils and vessels, and instruments. In Asia, fruits are also harvested young and tender for eating, like a summer squash. Smooth luffa (Luffa cylindrica) and angled luffa (Luffa acutangula): These vegetables originated in India and were later taken to China. It is mainly grown for the young squash- like edible fruits. If left to mature on the plant, both smooth and angled luffa gourds produce the familiar "luffa sponge" found in stores, but smooth luffas make a better-quality sponge. Some of the smooth luffa cultivars are Smooth Boy, Smooth Beauty, and Southern Winner. Some angled luffa cultivars are Hybrid Green Glory, Hybrid Asian Pride, Lucky Boy, and Summer Long. Luffa plants are warm-season vegetables and need to be trellised. Winter melon (Benincasa hispida): This vegetable is also known as ash gourd or wax gourd and is a vegetable native to Southeast Asia. It is grown like a watermelon and matures into a large green fruit with a waxy bloom and white flesh. When mature, it keeps for several months like a hard squash. The flavor is bland and it is used in soups and other dishes to absorb flavor of other ingredients, and candied for sweet chewy dried treats. Fruiting Vegetables Asian Eggplants (Solanum melongena): This crop is native to tropical Asia and very popular in Japan, China, India, Thailand, and the Philippines. Many varieties are available. They can be light or dark purple, brown, or green in skin color; and round and slender in shape. Culture is similar to standard eggplant. Legumes Asparagus (Yardlong) Bean (Chinese Long Bean, Vigna sesquipedalis): This long, trailing vine should be grown on trellises. This plant is more closely related to Southern peas (cowpeas, black-eyed peas) than to the common green snap bean, but it vines like a pole bean, and needs support to make long straight bean pods. Dark and light green varieties are available as well as a red type. The darker varieties are generally preferred. It is a warm-season vegetable. Yardlong beans are cut into 2-inch pieces and added to various stir fries. The paler green is sweeter and more tender than the dark green. Edamame (Glycine max): This vegetable is the immature pod of a soybean plant. These can be grown like soybeans, but with a larger between-row spacing like a bush bean, for easier hand-harvesting. They are harvested 35 to 40 days after flowering when pods are plump, bright green, and succulent. Popular varieties include Envy, Butterbeans, Sayamusume, Shiromufi, Tohya, Midori Giant, and Chiba Green. Sugar Snap Pea and Snow Pea (Pisum sativum): These cool-season vegetables should be sowed in April for a spring crop or sowed in July for a fall crop. Plants deteriorate quickly in the heat of summer. The plants of sugar snap pea and snow pea grow similarly to bush beans. It is often helpful to grow them on trellises to facilitate picking; however, if grown for the tender shoot tips, they are usually left untrellised. Root and Rhizome Vegetables Many root vegetables popular in Asia are long-lived perennial plants that are not suitable for our climate in the midwestern United States. However, a few can be grown in the field (sweet potato and daikon radish) and others can be grown in protected culture (ginger and turmeric). Daikon Radish (Raphanus sativus, var. longipinnatus) is also called Chinese radish and is closely related to the common radish crop. The main planting time for daikon is spring and fall, but some varieties can be planted almost year- round. April planting generates spring harvest, and July planting generates fall harvest. Spacing should be 4 to 6 inches within the rows and 3 feet between rows. To accommodate the large roots, it is recommended to plant in high raised beds that are amended with organic matter, such as compost. At each cultivation, move soil higher and higher around the roots, as they grow, to prevent greening of the

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