Road To Purple Bekana
Ruffled leaves in purpled green with thick stems for salad mixes or stir fries.
This is an evolving plant population with a lot of genetic diversity. That means the plants are not uniform and they don’t all look the same. They are all edible, beautiful and delicious.
This is a variety developed by Tourne-Sol
I’ve been on the road to a Purple Bekana.
I love the juicy crunch of Tokyo Bekana in salad mixes, in sandwiches, or just walking in the field with a stem in hand.
But wouldn’t it be fun if it was purple?
So I grew a bed of our Rainbow Tatsoi (which is mostly a purple tatsoi these days) beside a bed of Tokyo Bekana. I let everything go to flower and the bees came and did their thing - bringing pollen from one row to the next without much care as to which variety was which.
I kept the seeds from each bed separate.
The next year I planted the Tokyo Bekana seeds in a nursery tray.
A lot of plants popped up green - I assumed these had not crossed with the Rainbow Tatsoi.
There were quite a few purples. These had crossed up, This was the F1 generation
I only kept the purple plants and planted them out in the field.
I kept the seeds from all these plants and mixed them together. This was my F2 seed.
I grew the F2 seed out and started selecting plants with purple ruffly leaves and crunchy stems.
In the F2, no plant was perfect, but many had pieces of the puzzle.
In subsequent generations I’ve begun to find more of what I’m looking for.
Sill, I’m in no hurry, just going down that road on the way to Purple Bekana
Crop Species: Brassica Rapa
Crop Family: Brassicaseae
- Tokyo Bekana is a loose-headed Chinese Cabbage
- The entire Tokyo Bekana is edible and provides a crisp crunchy flavor.
- Tokyo Bekana can be grown as a baby green or used as a full sized lead.
HOW TO EAT
- Thinly chop and substitute for lettuce! Use throughout the winter to make any type of salad.
- There is no need to marinate or massage Chinese cabbage leaves like Kale
- Ferment to make kimchi. This is a lacto fermentation process that involves salting Chinese cabbage and letting it ferment with gochugaru chili flakes.
- Chop, mix with lime and olive oil, and use as a filling for tacos or burritos.
Chopped thinly, Chinese cabbage can take seconds to cook. It is often added to soups right before serving, so the leaves slightly wilt while the white stem remains crunchy.
- Sautéed and incorporated into a cold Soba noodle salad
- Sliced in half and roasted with olive oil, garlic and parmesan. Eaten as a side or with a tahini lemon dressing.
- Stir fried with any choice of protein
- Cabbage Rolls: Chinese cabbage’s big leaves are a great option for making traditional steamed cabbage rolls.
- Tokyo Bekana stores more like leafy greens, rather than Chinese Cabbage
- Refrigerate in a perforated plastic container for 3-5 days.
- A piece of paper towel or clean cloth can be added to the container to absorb moisture.
HOW TO HARVEST
- Cut or snap individual leaves.
- Harvest from the same plants for multiple weeks..
- Tokyo Bekana bolts quickly, so do not hold in the field. Signs of early bolting are when the head begins to tighten up and to elongate.
HOW TO GROW
Seed Depth: ¼”
Germination Temperature: 20-25C
Days to Germination: 4-7 jrs/days
Any special germination information: Like most brassicas, Tokyo Bekana germinates fast and prefers slightly cooler weather.
Luminosity: Full Sun
Earliest Planting Date: Early spring, after last hard frost
Latest Planting Date: Late August,
Planting frequency: Every 2-3 weeks for continual harvest
Days to maturity: 30-35 jrs/days
Harvest period: Spring- mid-Fall
You can start Tokyo Bekana indoors or outdoors. Here are directions for both:
Directions To Start Indoors
- Tokyo Bekana is especially sensitive to salinity, which can cause leggy seedlings and plant death.
Directions To Start Outdoors
- Thin plants in order to achieve desired size.
- If temperatures drop below 10C during the seedling stage, plants can prematurely bolt.
Pests and Diseases:
- Flea Beetle: Small black beetles swarm leaves and leave pinpoint holes in leaves. If left uncontrolled, the entire leaf can be consumed.
- Cover plants with a fine mesh insect netting.
HOW TO KEEP SEEDS
- Tokyo Bekana will cross pollinate with any member of the Brassica rapa family within 1000 feet.
- Tokyo Bekana is annual. Plant in early May to harvest seed in August.
- Increase spacing when growing for seed. It is recommended to stake plants at 12” apart in rows that are 15” apart.
- After flowering, harvest mature seed pods and put in a protected area for the pods to keep drying
- To keep pods dry, try to harvest at midday, after all the morning dew has evaporated
- Crush the pods when they are dry.
- Screen to separate chaff
- Winnow out chaff with a fan.