Negi is an allium (related to onions and garlic) that is grown similarly to leeks and can reach unbelievably lengths when properly cultivated. Negi comes in two varietals, Negi W5 for cooler weather and Negi S8 for warmer weather. Each varietal can be direct seeded, but transplants are recommended. When growing Negi it's important to leave space between each plant as well as regularly piling up soil around the shank of the vegetable to promote growth and keep the shank hidden from the sun. Negi can be harvested when the shank reaches anywhere between 10-18 inches in length, once the fistulosum layers have formed together and tightened.
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- Sow seeds as early as two months before estimated last heavy frost. (Check your growing zone to find out last frost dates for your region.)
- Temperature: Ensure that the temperature does not go above 86˚F / 30˚C while plants are in the trays.
- Transplanting recommended. Sow 3-4 seeds per cell into a 128- or 200-cell tray.
- Fill cells evenly and fully with soil, gently shake to settle.
- Press shallow holes into the tray. Do not press too hard on the soil; heavy compaction may prevent germination.
- Sow seeds 1/4" deep and cover gently by sprinkling soil on top. Gently remove any excess soil.
- Water in well (approx. 1L per tray). Until pruning, water twice per day to maintain moisture in the trays, making sure to moisten the edges. (The small cells can dry up easily.)
Maintenance, Pruning & Preparation
- Prune seedlings at 5" in length — cut to remove top 1" to stimulate more growth (should be 4" tall).
- After pruning, allow cells to dry between watering. Water in the morning, and if you notice cells are dry in the afternoon, water again. Do not water in the evening to prevent mold and fungal disease.
- If multiple seedlings per cell, gently separate prior to transplanting.
- Prior to transplanting, trim new leaves leaving one extra inch (should be about 5").
- Water in heavily prior to transplanting.
- Transplant to 2" spacing.
- Plant deep: dig a trench and transplant 4–6" deep into soil, so only the green part of the stalk is showing.
- Water generously once plants are established (3 times per week).
- Hilling: to establish the characteristic long white shank, the base of the plant cannot be exposed to sunlight. Bury plants repeatedly when the shank is 3” above the soil.
- Harvest at 10–18" in length (depending on hilling) when fistulous layers form together and tighten.
- Mature stalks will feel dense, not spongy, when squeezed.
- Negi can hold in the soil for weeks after maturity, and can store for up to 8 weeks.
Boasting a garlic-like aroma and sweet, earthy flavor profile, Negi is used to bring out the savory notes in meat, fish and vegetable dishes without overpowering them. Traditionally served as part of the Negima Yakitori, grilled negi pairs well with meats such as seared steak, pork chops and poultry. Negi can be substituted for leeks in pot roasts, onion tarts, potato gratins and casseroles for a hearty, slightly sweet flavor.
Negi is used as an aromatic – perfect for sprinkling over udon, ramen and soba and garnishing. Use negi as you would scallions or green onions in omelets, sauces and sautés, and as a topping for pizzas, soups and salads.
When prepared raw, Negi is a great source of allicin – a compound that boosts the immune system by improving circulation and reducing inflammation. It also enables vitamin B1 absorption from meat or fish when paired together. It is traditionally said that a “Negi compress” is a popular home remedy for the common cold. By wrapping raw Negi in a cloth around the neck, the allicin breaks down into diallyl sulfide which is said to be effective in alleviating sinus congestion and throat soreness.