Back in 1917, exotic-sounding vegetables like edamame, nappa, daikon, and bok choy were about as familiar to the average American palate as sous-vide cooking. Thank goodness for cultural progress, because these days, Asian vegetables aren't only familiar to folks in their favorite restaurants, but people also seek them out in the vegetable aisle of mainstream grocery stores. West meets East, and we love it. Gijiu Kitazawa started the seed company bearing his name back when the only people buying spicy mustard greens and eccentric varieties of radish were a largely Japanese clientele in central and northern California. The seeds were sold in small manilla envelopes with green type (the same they use today), and his carefully curated selections were known for quality and variety. After an ignominious blip during WWII where the Kitazawas were placed in relocation camps, Kitazawa restarted the business, and for the first time started shipping the seeds nationwide to follow his now-dispersed client base. Shonan Red Japanese Red Onion: This onion has a reddish bulb and a mild, sweet pungency. Slice it thin to make a sweet and sour cucumber salad marinated in vinegar, salt, sugar, and dried chili flakes. Red Beard Japanese Red Bunching Onion: Its red stalk, mild flavor, and tender leaves make for a perfect addition to stir-fries, salads, or even a garnish. Easy to grow and a colorful addition to the garden. Taichung 13 Edible Podded Sugar Pea: Sprouting white flowers grow into pods that are round, plump, crispy, and very sweet. Wonderful when snacked on raw or in salads. Also great in (duh) stir-fry! Usui Snow Pea Shoots: Cultivated for its delicious shoots, but also the tendrils and top leaves at the tip of the stem, which are considered a real delicacy. Stir-fry, steam, or eat raw. Magenta Sunset Swiss Chard: How do you go wrong with a name like that? We're already vibing. Saute its narrow and tender stalks with garlic and onion. Or harvest its baby green leaves for a mild flavor and lovely color in salads. Bonus Baby Corn Hybrid: A standard in Chinese cuisine, these little guys are delicious in salads. Their size also makes them perfect for pickling or stir-frying. Kids really dig them too. All Purple Radish: Mostly eggplant purple, some are even green or green-purple in color. These radishes are prized for their color, flavor, and nutritional value. Perfect for salads or soups. White Leaf Edible Amaranth: Also known as Chinese spinach, this is grown for its bittersweet flavor. Tender, light green leaves and stems contain more iron and calcium than Western spinach. While ideal in a salad, this is also delicious in soups or slightly stir-fried. Include the stems. Shironata Mame Sword Bean: Produces white flowers and green beans with a ridged edge. Picked when immature and prepared like snap peas, cook them and enjoy with a light butter or soy sauce. Rocket Arugula: Add a delicious peppery flavor to salads with the baby greens of this plant. Mediterranean in origin, this is also great sprinkled on a just-cooked pizza.
Shonan Red Japanese Red Onion: Sow seeds in spring in well-drained soil. Prepare rows fourteen to twenty inches apart, planting each seed a half inch deep and one inch apart. Keep soil moist. Harvest when skins develop and plant begins to fall over. Red Beard Japanese Red Bunching Onion: Sow seeds in spring or fall in rich loamy soil. Prepare rows fourteen to twenty inches apart. Plant each seed a half inch deep and half inch apart. Mature plants (twenty-six inches tall) can be harvested in summer or allowed to grow through winter. Taichung 13 Edible Podded Sugar Pea: Sow seeds in spring or fall. Prepare rows fourteen to twenty-four inches apart. Plant seeds one inche deep and three inches apart. Train to stake or trellis. Tendrils can be harvested if picked sparingly. Pods can be harvested in two months. Usui Snow Pea Shoots: Sow seeds in spring or fall. Prepare rows fourteen to twenty-four inches apart. Plant seeds one inch deep and three inches apart. Train to stake or trellis. Allow plant to grow eleven inches before first picking. Tendrils can be harvested when three inches long. Remove flowers to shift energy to roots. Magenta Sunset Swiss Chard:Sow seeds in mid spring to mid summer. Prepare rows eighteen to twenty-four inches apart. Plant seeds half inch deep and three inches apart. Harvest baby greens or cut back mature plants in late summer for fall re-growth. Bonus Baby Corn Hybrid: Sow seeds in late spring after last frost to early summer in a warm and sunny location. Prepare rows twenty-four to thirty inches apart. Plant seeds one inch deep and three inches apart. Harvest within five days of the appearance of silks. All Purple Radish: Wash seeds thoroughly. Sprinkle them in sandy loam and cover with half inch of soil. Keep moist. White Leaf Edible Amaranth: Sow seeds in late spring after last frost to early summer. Prepare rows fourteen to twenty inches apart. Plant seeds half inch deep and three inches apart. Leaves are best when harvested young. Shironata Mame Sword Bean: Sow seeds in late spring after the last frost in a warm and sunny location. Prepare rows twenty-four to thirty inches apart. Plant seeds one inch deep and three inches apart. Train to stake or trellis. Rocket Arugula: Prefers cool temperatures of spring and fall, this thrives in moist but well-drained soil. Broadcast seeds and cover lightly with soil. Harvest baby greens when leaves are two to six inches long. Left in the garden to mature for forty days, the plants can become up to thirty-six inches tall with an increasingly bitter.
This seed company has been in business for over ninety-five years. Primarily sourced from Japanese seed companies who grow both in Japan and the United States, they never sell GM seeds. Ever. All of their varieties are open pollinated or hybrids. Many of their heirlooms have been produced for generations.
Farm internationally from your own backyard. West meets East with these ten traditional Asian vegetable seed packs, from sword beans to sugar peas to edible amaranth. (more info)
Shonan Red Japanese Red Onion
Red Beard Japanese Red Bunching Onion
Taichung 13 Edible Podded Sugar Pea
Usui Snow Pea Shoots
Magenta Sunset Swiss Chard
Bonus Baby Corn Hybrid
All Purple Radish
White Leaf Edible Amaranth
Shironata Mame Sword Bean
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