Growing Tips: Saku Saku
Sweet and oblong shaped, this Japanese brassica can grow up to 14 inches in diameter with big leaves, shallow veins, and a delicate texture that provides a crisp, delicious bite ideal for creating fresh salads and livening up wraps and katsu. In fact, Saku Saku in Japanese essentially translates to "crunch crunch".
Although commercial growers typically transplant Saku Saku, it can be directly seeded into the soil at one-quarter inch deep, every six inches.
Because Saku Saku is a vegetable that needs plenty of space to grow, we encourage growers to thin out the plants to about 12 inches apart after germination.
When transplanting Saku Saku leave 12 inches in between individual plants, then between rows, aim for 14-18 inches.
When filling your seedling trays with soil it is important to remember two things:
- Make sure each tray cell is completely filled with soil from top to bottom. If a cell contains gaps without soil, this can create air pockets at the bottom causing the plant to dry out quickly, and could damage the seedling’s root structure.
- Try to avoid packing the tray cells too tightly. Though the cells should be completely and evenly full, soil that is over compacted will make it difficult to remove the seedling for transplanting as you don’t want to snap the stem or tear roots. Not compressing or pushing hard on the soil after filling should help.
Try filling each cell from top to bottom, then giving the whole tray a careful shake from side to side to get air pockets out, then pour a little extra soil on the top to account for any settling.
Seedlings will typically take 40 to 45 days from seeding to transplanting.
When watering during germination of the Saku Saku, it is very important not to overwater as this can allow a layer of crust to form on the surface of the soil that obstructs the seed as it breaks through the surface. Make sure to keep the soil damp and moist, to help the seed to germinate.
Once the seed has germinated, it is best to hold back on the water for 8 to 10 days, allowing that seed to send its roots further, making them longer and stronger which should help produce true leaves that wrap. After this, a thorough watering can help improve head size.
Saku Saku from the transplant can take up to 70 to 75 days. It is recommended to cultivate and weed in order to keep the field clean so maximum nutrients can be absorbed by your plant.
Once the Saku Saku leaves have wrapped and the head has become firm, you want it to reach between 12 and 14 inches to know it’s ready for harvesting.
Carefully harvest at the base of the plant by cutting the stalk/stem just above ground level. Once you’ve harvested this head, the leaves can be individually removed or even consumed fresh.