Sunday, March 7, 2010

Purple Kosaitai

I am growing more and more of the varied Brassicas collectively known as "Rapes" (they are usually derived from Brassica rapa), with canola (rapeseed) oil and the Italian vegetable some call rapini, others call broccoli-raab, being the two best known rapes. But I am growing very fond of Purple Kosaitai AKA 'Purple Chinese Rape' (pretty sure NOT bred from B. rapa but will look it up again) as a winter crop. Mine froze solid a few times this winter, but like my other brassicas it was totally unfazed. The flavor is very mild, it has a tender texture, and the stems have a nice lavender tinge. It is grown in China mainly for the flower buds eaten much like broccoli-raab in stir fry, but the leaves are wonderful in salads. The open flowers are classic yellow Brassica 4-petalled type and taste and look great in salads or as an edible plate garnish.

It reseeds very freely, and after the recent cold rains I am having oodles of them popping up here and there from seeds that dropped last spring from parent plants. Since most of the brassicas are interfertile, these well may be crosses, like the one now blooming that I am excited about as it popped up last AUGUST in a Water Wise Container Garden and FLOURISHED in the humid heat then really took off in the cold weather. It is the only brassica blooming in my yard so the seeds should come true to whatever it is....I say that because as soon as the leaves enlarged last September I could tell immediately it was a cross of Purple Kosaitai and mizuna, an Asian brassica SO cold hardy I knew a woman in the Colorado mountains who grew it outdoors all winter beneath Remay and hay at 9,000 feet! Odd that a chance cross between the two would appear in hot muggy August in Tampa then thrive.

It will be fun to see what these new dozens of seedlings turn out to be. I am 99% sure I bought the original seeds from an Asian seed catalog I like a LOT....Kitazawa Seed Co. The Oceanic Market in downtown Tampa has some interesting Rapes in their Chinese seeds displays, including a white flowered one I really enjoyed a few winters back If I can find the pics I took recently of the flower stalks of this chance hybrid I will attach them.

I am selling seeds of other Rapes for $3 for a teaspoon (about 600 seeds) and a SASE sent to me at: John Starnes 3212 West Paxton Ave. Tampa FL 33611 The rapes I have are:

Bonar, Appin, Barnapoli, Pasja.

Happy Gardening, John

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