Chinese vegetables can be grown in a backyard garden but they do present some challenges. They are very susceptible to temperature changes. Most Chinese vegetables are a cold crop and need to be harvested before the temperatures reach above 70 degrees F. In cold climates they need to be planted in early spring or late summer. Temperature changes from warm to cold in the spring can affect the growth of the vegetables. In warm climates they can be planted in the fall as long as the temperatures do not go below 50 degrees.
Rototill the garden soil as soon as it becomes warm in the spring in cold climates and in late August or September in warm climates. Add compost and peat moss to make a light soil mix. Sprinkle 5-10-10 fertilizer, about 1/2 lb. per 25 square feet, and mix it into the soil very well.
Plant Chinese Radishes or daikon six to eight weeks before the last frost in cold climate areas. Chinese radishes are much larger than regular radishes so seeds should be planted in well drained loose garden soil about 10 inches apart. Snow peas can also be planted at this time. Plant a single row of seeds about one inch deep and five inches apart in front of a trellis. The peas will grow vertically up the trellis.
Plant bok choi, also called pak choi, and Chinese broccoli seeds in late May. Space rows eight inches apart. Chinese cabbage and Chinese mustard greens should be planted in rows 10 inches apart.
Plant yard long beans after all danger of cold weather passes at the end of May or June. Plant seeds about 1 inch deep and 3 inches apart in a single row in front of a trellis so they can grow vertically. Chinese cucumbers also need a trellis on which to grow the skinny elongated fruit. Seeds should be planted in a single row five inches apart. Chinese eggplant does not require a trellis and should be planted in rows spaced 10 inches apart. All of these vegetables are warm weather crops and will take temperatures up to about 75 degrees.
Water the area well after planting and keep the soil moist until plants grow and are established. After that they will need to have about 1 inch of water per week in order to grow properly. Mulch to keep the soil moist and deter weeds after the plants have grown several inches.
Thin seedlings if they are too close once they sprout. Bok choi, Chinese broccoli, Chinese eggplant, Chinese cabbage and Chinese mustard should be 8 to 10 inches apart. Some Chinese radishes can grow to 4 inches in diameter so check the package and see how large they are expected to get and thin to 4 inches larger. Therefore, if a radish will become 4 inches in diameter they should be planted 8 inches apart. Chinese cucumber and snow peas can grow close together because they grow vertically.
Harvest Chinese greens when they reach a mature size. Bok choi and Chinese cabbage heads should be firm to the touch. Cut at the base with a sharp knife. Chinese mustard should be picked after about 30 days by cutting at the base of the plant. Chinese broccoli takes 60 to 70 days to mature and should be cut before the flowers open. Snow peas should be flat and about 1 1/2 to 2 inches long when mature. Eggplant fruit is glossy and firm when it is ready to harvest. The Chinese radish takes about 60 days to maturity.