Tokyo Bekana also known as “vitamin green,” is a distinct type of cabbage from Chinese cabbage. The Tokyo Bekana is a non-heading, loose-leaf variety with succulent and tender leaves that grow in delicate bunches.
Gardeners throughout the U.S. can take advantage of this simple to grow green vegetable by taking advantage of this growing guide’s tips.
Tokyo Bekana is the Asian leafy green if you want something between the spicy mustard greens common in Chinese recipes and common varieties you find in groceries.
You will love this edible green vegetable’s versatility that is as easy to grow as it is to enjoy eating.
What is Tokyo Bekana?
Tokyo Bekana is a variety of Chinese cabbage that features light green leaves and a mild flavor. It is in the family brassica but has a reserved spiciness more like red romaine than the close cousin bok choy, with which Tokyo Bekana is commonly grown. It’s unlikely that most U.S. growers will encounter the Tokyo Bekana in nurseries or garden centers because it isn’t popularly grown outside of Japan.
Tokyo Bekana grows thick dark green leaves with a succulent bite. It has a delicate texture easel complimenting many dishes you and your family will enjoy every day. If you are looking to grow a garden green that even the pickiest of eaters at your table will love, you should sprout Tokyo Bekana in your garden.
Why is Tokyo Bekana Called “Vitamin Green”?
Vitamin Green is a specific name for a wide variety of Tokyo Bekana cabbage. You may find numerous companies selling seeds online for Vitamin Green plants. All of these companies are referring to a popular offshoot of the Chinese napa cabbage family.
Tokyo Bekana is packed with nutrients common to dense-leaved varieties of Chinese leafy greens but has a flavor more like the Western lettuce American palates choose.
What is Space Cabbage?
It just so happens that this fantastic Chinese cabbage variety was selected to be grown in space by the United States Space Agency, NASA.
When you decide to plant Tokyo Bekana cabbage plants in your garden, you’ll grow one of the only vegetables ever cultivated out of this world.
How to Grow Tokyo Bekana
You’ll be happy to know that this space-age leafy green has humble roots in Chinese and Korean culinary practices. It is a fast-growing variety that is ideal for fresh garden salads and holds up well in cooked recipes.
You’ll love growing Tokyo Bekana in your garden for the curious light green leaves and tender crunchiness. The Tokyo Bekana variety is ideal for the container, and the planter box grows and thrives in greenhouse environments worldwide.
Growing From Seed
Tokyo Bekana is an excellent choice to grow from seed. It sprouts quickly in various starter medium types and is easily transplanted in the spring when temperatures are increasing.
Like many relative brassica varieties, Tokyo Bekana thrives in cool environments. Most U.S. gardeners can grow a bountiful crop of Tokyo Bekana plants by starting seedlings in the spring and late summer.
Start seeds about three weeks before the date of the last frost for a spring planting and during early summer for a late-summer planting. You can grow two harvest seasons of Tokyo Bekana in USDA hardiness zones 7-10 reliably. Seeds can be direct-sown in the garden about two weeks after the last frost. Seeds require temperatures above 60 degrees to germinate and do best between 65 and 75 degrees.
– When to Plant Tokyo Bekana
US gardeners are lucky because they can typically plant Tokyo Bekana seeds twice each year. That’s because Toyo Bekana is a cool, weather-loving plant that prefers short days. Plant Tokyo Bekana right alongside your other Brassica species for annuals, but make sure to separate varieties if you plan on collecting seeds.
Tokyo Bekana can be transplanted into your garden once the chance of frost has passed and soil temperatures are above 65 degrees. Gardeners should plant seedlings shallowly in well-draining soil that has been mixed with organic compost.
Don’t plant Tokyo Bekana seeds in soil that has grown any brassica varieties for the past two years to prevent spreading common diseases.
– How to Plant Tokyo Bekana
Place seeds or seedlings one-quarter inch in mounds of well-turned garden soil and water thoroughly—space seeds to six inches for optimal growth. You may start seeds one or two inches apart, then thin to accept only the most vigorous sprouts.
It’s a great idea to plan a garden where you sequentially plant to prolong the growing season. Tokyo Bekana is an excellent choice for staggered growing in your garden.
– Soil Conditions
This species of brassica grows best in loose soil that has been well-blended with organic compost. It requires plenty of nitrogen and is best suited for slightly acidic soils.
Tokyo Bekana is a very forgiving variety of Chinese cabbage that will tolerate less than ideal soil conditions provided other factors are well cared for.
– Ideal Light Conditions
You want to make sure your garden has plenty of sunshine when you plant Tokyo Bekana plants from seed. These plants thrive in full sun with a little afternoon shade in hot climates. Gardeners in the United States will likely grow a healthy crop in the spring and an even more substantial harvest in the fall.
– Water Requirements
The Tokyo Bekana plant comes from a variety of Chinese cabbage and shares similar desires for water. The plants can withstand some drought while growing but should have regular, restrained watering when the gardener plans to harvest.
– Can You Grow it in a Container?
You’ll find that Tokyo Bekana is a delightful container plant. It does well in boxes and will grow well in a deep window box. You can even grow Tokyo Bekan hydroponically indoors by placing rooting plants in a glass of water. Astronauts even grow this variety in artificial air!
When to Harvest
You can harvest Tokyo Bekana a leaf at a time, as your recipe calls for. This species will produce more growth for each harvest you take. You can even use a sharp knife and sever the greens just above the soil, and the remaining root will regrow for a second or third harvest.
Most U.S. gardeners will find that their Tokyo Bekana is ready to harvest between 30 and 45 days. Young leaves can be harvested at a whim—they are sweet, succulent, and tender. The most common use of Tokyo Bekana greens is in baby green salads. The young greens are incredibly delicious in sauce recipes like stir-fry.
– Storage Strategies
Once you harvest your Tokyo Bekana plants, you will want to store them to keep the edible greens fresh for as long as you can.
The best way to store Tokyo Bekana is to wash the leaves and shake them dry carefully. Place the leaves between layers of paper towels and keep them in the crisper drawer in your refrigerator. Tokyo Bekana will stay fresh for about one week in the fridge.
Tokyo Bekana doesn’t freeze well, so it’s best to harvest what you think you’ll use in a few days rather than try to keep the leaves fresh for more than a week.
Pests and Diseases
Like most brassica varieties, a large number of pests and diseases can quickly destroy your garden. It would help if you learned to identify signs of pests and diseases early to prevent spreading and reduce the damage done to your crop. Pests will vary according to the region you grow in. Some areas will have a higher likelihood of encountering problems.
– Common Pests
U.S. gardeners should be aware of flea beetles that are known to damage Tokyo Bekana plants.
Flea beetles are small, black, or brown insects that chew irregular holes in leaves. A severe flea beetle infestation will wipe out an entire garden in no time.
Another pest common in the U.S. that feeds on Tokyo Bekana plants is the cabbage looper. This caterpillar is the larvae of those dainty white butterflies you see in your garden. Cabbage looper caterpillars eat the leaves and stems of plants.
Many other types of caterpillars and insects will readily feed on Tokyo Bekana. In most cases, you can prevent infestations by following a few steps.
One of the best ways to keep cabbage loopers and other caterpillars from your Tokyo Bekana is the use of row cover.
If the butterflies can’t land on your plants, they can’t lay eggs, and there are no caterpillars. Another excellent way to control numerous types of pests, including flea beetles, is a light dusting of diatomaceous earth in between waterings. This organic treatment kills almost all pests in your garden but will also kill beneficial insects.
– Common Diseases
The most common diseases impacting Tokyo Bekana grown in the U.S. are leaf spot, blight, and root rot.
These diseases are typically carried on seeds and in contaminated soil, so you can prevent many diseases by merely purchasing disease-free seeds. Leaf spot looks like spots or rings of brown or black on the leaves, which eventually yellow and die. Blight causes the leaves to die and will ultimately kill the plant. Root rot may look like slime or mold at the stalk near the ground. Plants will be limp and yellow and will eventually die.
Any plant you have that experiences any of these diseases must be handled immediately to prevent disease spreading. Remove infected plants and destroy them, do not put them in your compost as they contaminate it. Usually, you will need to treat the soil with a commercial fungicide to kill the pathogens causing diseases.
A good habit to practice is to avoid planting brassica species in the same spot year after year. Crop rotation can help prevent diseases and may improve the soil, depending on the plants you choose.
- Tokyo Bekana is one of the vegetables being grown in space.
- A popular variety is “Vitamin Green.”
- Growing Tokyo Bekana in your garden is easy if you prepare your garden correctly.
- Tokyo Bekana should be directly sown in the garden after the last frost and again in late summer for two harvests.
- Tokyo Bekana prefers rich, well-draining soil and full sun. It requires regular, deep watering but shouldn’t need fertilizer.
- Tokyo Bekana should be eaten fresh or kept in the refrigerator for up to one week, but it can’t be frozen.
- Common pests in the U.S. include flea beetles and cabbage loopers. Use row cover and diatomaceous earth to thwart infestations.
- The most common diseases can be avoided by purchasing high-quality seeds.
Growing Tokyo Bekana is a fun way to add something a little different to your garden. The light green foliage makes an attractive addition to other brassica species you like to grow.
Amaze your friends and family when you tell them you are growing astronaut food in your garden this year.