Wasabi In The Garden: Second Autumn Planting

Wasabi Fans, Note: these white plants starts were planted in Oct. 15 2015.  The update photos below were taking on Nov. 8 2015.

It's time to plant wasabi in the garden again.  As I maintain, fall is an optimal time for wasabi planting.  We plant in both autumn and spring at both Frog Eyes Farm and our garden in Portland Oregon.  The  garden wasabi does not receive any amendment aside from an annual 14-14-14 fertilizer.  It does not receive any of the nutrients or conditions we use at Frog Eyes Wasabi Farm.  In fact, I intentionally neglect these plants and water minimally.  I want to subject them to the worst case conditions to mimic potential condition in your gardens.  This wine barrel does receive some sun for a few hours for a few weeks in the height of summer and a bit of sunlight on mid-winter mornings.  I wouldn't recommend any more sun than this, and I do strongly recommend to plant wasabi where there's no direct sunlight ever.  See below the state of the plants which, last Spring looked so healthy and lush.  The summer's sun and heat killed about half of the plants an the other remaining are struggling. (Granted, I've not watered them for about one month now and just relied on sporadic rain.)  But, the apical meristems are growing and I expect them to recover.  (Know that the plants at Frog Eyes Wasabi Farm receive very attentive care.  Indeed, it's the time I spend on the farm with those plants that precludes my care of these in the garden.  Farming's hard.  By the time I get home, I want to take a shower, have a pint, and sit down!)

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See the closeups of the apical meristem that are growing. The leaves are dried, crinkled and brittle (also tough).  That's due to the lack of watering.  They will flush out again when the rains come or I start watering.

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In fact, on this photo below, the primary rhizome/meristem has died away, but an offshoot is growing.  The wasabi plant, when stressed, will send out offshoots that will become dominant if the primary rhizome suffers.  I expect this plant to do the same.

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Now, to the planting.  I used offshoots from Frog Eyes Wasabi Farm.  These offshoots were in the refrigerator for approximately two months.  They grow these white stems much like Belgian endive.  The rhizomes and offshoots will both do this.  They are actually quite tasty.  I decided to leave them on.   I also am using these to show that the offshoots, even after being stressed and "out of the ground" for two months and nearly aerobic in the bottom vegetable drawer, will grow just fine.  If these grow, the ones we provide fresh from Frog Eyes Wasabi Farm should also grow just fine.  Remember to view the growing recommendations on our website. 

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All I did was use a trowel, dig a hole, insert the offshoot and replace the soil and water.  The white tops make the new plants more visible.  I'll provide more updates as these grow and mature.  Remember, that one of the reasons to plant in the winter is that the offshoots grow all winter and like other brassicas, the leaves and stems are all edible and will be a source of fresh greens in the dead of winter.  Add wasabi to your kale garden and brussels sprouts and you've got healthy greens in the winter!

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UPDATE Nov. 2015

What a difference some water and shade (not sun) makes!  The new plants and the existing year-old plants are doing quite well.   See the first photo below compared to the first photo in the above Oct. entry.   New growth abounds.

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The below is a white-shoot plant start shown above.  The green color has returned and fresh shoots are appearing.  Note, this is the one at about the 11:00 position shown above in the October entry.   All the new plant starts are doing well.  Even after enduring being uprooted several times by squirrels.

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This photo is a one-year old plant that is an offshoot from the dried-out and dead central rhizome shown above.  See the blackened remnants of the rhizome on its side just beside this new shoot?  And see how much healthier these new shoots seem from just a few weeks ago?  Some rain and lack of sun (shade) really help reinvigorate these plants. Garden Wasabi Nov 2015-3

Posted on October 16, 2015 .