Chinese broccoli is also known as Chinese kale, floweing kale (English) kailan (Cantonese), Gai lan, Jie lan (Mandarin), cai rô (Vietnamese), and Kat Na (Khmer). This crop resembles our more familiar broccoli with a longer stem and very small head. Unlike many other Asian greens in the Brasica family, this crop has a thick stem like cole crops that originated in the Mediterranean, such as broccoli, cauliflower, and Brussels sprouts ("cole" means stem in old English). It is believed that early Portuguese explorers brought cabbage to Asia and through generations of selections it has developed into Chinese broccoli.
Direct seed and thin to 4 to 15 inches apart in the row and nine inches to two feet between rows, depending on the size of plant desired. The stem is harvested just as the flowers emerge. Like European broccoli, Chinese broccoli can be harvested multiple times. When the main shoot is harvested the first time, auxiliary shoots grow, which can be harvested two more times. Shoots will be smaller each time. Large-scale production will harvest once and use multiple plantings for constant supply.
For information on production and management of Chinese broccoli, refer to the New England Vegetable Management Guide and click on "Broccoli, Cabbage, Cauliflower, and Minor Cole Crops".
There are many open-pollinated varieties of Chinese broccoli available. One disadvantage to open-pollinated varieties is that the inflorescence will appear at different times. This makes harvest much more difficult.
Several varities are available from Evergreen Seeds. The two more common hybrid varieties available in the States are "Kailaan" and "Green Lance".
Johnny's Selected Seeds also carries the variety "Green Lance".