Tokyo Bekana: An Easy to Grow Microgreen

We're always asked what microgreens are easy to grow? Tokyo Bekana is one of the easiest to grow because it grows quickly. It can grow by any method and on any grow media. 

We touched on six of the easiest microgreens to grow in this article, but we might have to update it and add Tokyo Bekana to the list. 

Besides being very easy to grow, Tokyo Bekana microgreens might be the crunchiest microgreens I've eaten with a mild cabbage flavor with a tiny mustard bite to them.

how to grow tokyo bekana

What Exact Is Tokyo Bekana?

Great question. Because Tokyo Bekana is labeled as many things. 

Tokyo Bekana Common Name

Let me list the names that Tokyo Bekana is called when doing a simple internet search.

  • Loose-head Chinese Cabbage
  • Non-heading Chinese Cabbage
  • Spoon Cabbage
  • Asian Green
  • Small Chinese Cabbage
  • Celery Mustard
  • Asian green related to cabbage
  • Chinese Cabbage

The Latin name for this plant is Brassica rapa chinensis, so it can fall into the cabbage or mustard family. 

According to Sustainable Market Farming, Tokyo Bekana was first cultivated in Japan and descendants of Chinese loose-heading celery cabbages (pe Tsai). It is widely grown in rural Japan as well as in ex-pat Asian farming communities worldwide.

In the garden, its growth habit is more similar to lettuce than what we think of as cabbage. Hence its loose, non-heading, and spoon adjectives.

Tokyo Bekana is Out of this World

An interesting fact about this plant is that it has been grown on the International Space Station because of its quick growth. 

If NASA is interested in growing this plant in the confines of the space station in zero gravity, I guess I have a little room for this plant in my garden next year. 

Tokyo Bekana Grown at Home

However, most likely, you are interested in Tokyo Bekana as a microgreen.  So let's get on with explaining how to grow it as such.

Things to Think About Before Starting

Tokyo Bekana is a very fast-growing microgreen that has relatively large cotyledon leaves.

This plant can also be grown for use as a microgreen, and as mentioned in the garden, as a mature Asian green, but can also be raised and used in the true leaf and baby leaf stages. 

Stages of Vegetable Growth

vegetable food stages

We bring this up because the seeding rate will depend on when you harvest your Tokyo Bekana.

How to Grow Tokyo Bekana as a Microgreen

 In the example below, Tokyo Bekana is grown to the edge of the cotyledon to the true leaf stage. 

We also tried two different microgreen growing methods. The weighted and domed methods. 

It wouldn't be surprising if this microgreen also grew well on grow mats. Maybe we will try that when we decide which type of grow mat we prefer to use. 

Growing Tokyo Bekana Using the Weighted and Domed Methods

Both methods require a tray to be filled with a good potting mix to just below the top edge of the planting tray.

If you are new to growing microgreens, the planting tray has holes in the bottom. Not to let excess water out, more to let water be up-taken into the soil media when bottom watered. 

The trays are Home Microgreens planting and watering trays. These have a planting surface of about 38 square inches. 

Level and lightly tamp the soil into the tray and mist it with a spray bottle three or four times with tap water. The upper surface of the soil needs to be moist, but not so much that the whole soil profile is wet. 

leveling the soil
wetting beet microgreen seeds

The seeds don't need to have the soil at the bottom of the tray moist. Extra water in the system can only cause issues later.

Seeding Density for Tokyo Bekana Microgreens

In the photos below, the trays are covered with 2.0-grams of Tokyo Bekana seed, which is about 0.05 grams per square inch of planting surface. 

tokyo bekana microgreen seeds

A 1010 tray would need about 5-grams or 10 grams for a 1020 tray. 

Remember, though, that if you plan on growing Tokyo Bekana to the true or baby leaf stage, you will need less seed. 

Once the seeds are spread, we mist them once more with the spray bottle. This wets the seeds and helps push the seeds into the soil, making better seed-to-soil contact.

This is especially true when using the domed method as there is no weight pushing the seeds down into the planting media - whether it be soil or grow mats.

mustard microgreen seeds

Blackout Period for Tokyo Bekana Microgreens

Weighted Method

Most microgreens germinate better in the dark and, in most cases, with a bit of weight on them, like being covered with soil.

We artificially create this environment by placing something with a smooth surface over the planted tray and placing a weight on it. For example, the tray lid, a piece of ridge plastic, or another tray. For weight, anything will work, a rock, book, another tray of microgreens, etc. 

We also place a thick towel over the top of the trays to keep light out.

We call this the weighted method of growing microgreens. 

weighted blackout method

Domed Method

The domed method for blackout does keep the seeds in the dark, but no weight is added to the soil surface.

The dome is usually formed by placing another tray (without holes) over the top of the planting tray. 

But anything dark to exclude light will work as long as it is 1-1/2 inches or more over the top of the soil surface. 

The dome holds in the humidity and keeps light from reaching the seeds.

shallow tray under the blackout dome

The idea behind this method is three-fold.

  1. Thin stemmed microgreens, such as amaranth or some mustards, have weak stems, and the weight leads to crooked stems.
  2. The domed method is also proper when microgreens have a tendency to stay short. Arugula is a good example. The dome excludes light, and the plants respond by growing taller under the dome. 
  3. When the room temperature is warm, or soil has not completely composted (common during the pandemic as suppliers rushed to meet demand), the soil temperature will reach levels that can increase mold growth. Or even get hot enough to kill the seeds when using the weighted method.

The reduced airflow doesn't let the heat or moisture escape. In cases like these, the domed method is the way to go. 

It's important to make sure the seeds are seated in the soil when using this method. So a good mist of water, or even physically pushing the seeds into the soil or grow mat with a tray lid or something flat. will increase germination rate.

Why Grow Tokyo Bekana Using Two Methods?

Truthfully, the real reason is that we had no idea how this microgreen would grow.

We have so much going on here at Home Microgreens that we didn't want to waste time and regrow them if one method didn't work well. 

After our latest surprise with a similar microgreen, why not throw together a couple of trays and see which method grows Tokyo Bekana the best. 

The Tokyo Bekena Test Results

The seeds germinated in 2-days, but we waited until the fourth day to put the trays under the lights. The photo below shows how the microgreens looked when we took off the weight (left tray) and the dome (right tray).

tokyo bekana microgreens

The white color you see on the domed tray is root hairs

Because there's so much humidity under the dome, roots can obtain water from above and at the soil's surface. 

The root hairs will nearly disappear in a day or two. However, microgreens grown by the dome method never root as deeply as those by the weighted approach.

24-hours Under Light - Day Five in Total

No matter how many trays of microgreens I grow, I'm always amazed by the growth and color change after they've been under the lights for 24-hours. 

In the photo below, you can see how much the Tokyo Bekana microgreens have changed. 

The microgreens grown under the dome are a bit taller, but both trays look excellent.  

tokyo bekana microgreens one day under lights

Day 8 - A Few Changes

After three more days under the lights, the two trays of Tokyo Bekana show the benefit of the weighted method. 

You can see the precursor to the changes in the last photo too. So first, let me show the picture, then I'll explain the differences.

tokyo bekana 8 days after planting seeds

The microgreens grown by the weighted method (left tray) have caught up to those grown under the dome (right tray). As a result, you can see that the left tray is now taller, wider, and many of the leaves are larger than those on the right.

Most likely, because the weighted method forces the roots downward to help lift the weight off the plant and maybe creating more side roots during the process. 

While the shallow roots in the domed method spend energy growing down once the dome has been removed, or they don't have enough surface area to collect as many nutrients compared to the weighted approach.

You can also see that the plants in the left tray are more upright and sturdy. But, again, the weight forces them to up their game to escape from under the weight.

This is why we recommend growing most microgreens by the weighted method. 

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Follow the recommendations in this guide and you'll be eating microgreens in as few as 7-days!

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However...

The Tokyo Bekana microgreens grown under the dome are excellent microgreens.

Many times, when we do tests like this, one method grows far superior microgreens. 

Tokyo Bekana can be grown by either method and produce excellent microgreens.

Another reason to add this variety of microgreens to one of the easiest to grow.

Tokyo Bekana Microgreens Ready to Harvest in 8-days

The trays of microgreens are ready to harvest in 8-days at the cotyledon stage. But, really, they could have been harvested beforehand if one is so inclined.

Also, these were grown in a cooler environment. It was autumn, and the windows in the room were open, cooling the air, especially at night.

So we'd expect these could be grown in 6-days to harvest at temperatures 72-degrees F or above.

Let Them Grow True Leaves - Crunchy Bites

In only one more day, 9-days in total grown in a cool room, these microgreens continued to grow quickly. 

tokyo bekana after 9-days

After one more day, true leaves started to form (sorry for the bad lighting).

true leaves on tokyo bekana microgreens

We didn't notice any flavor differences in Tokyo Bekana after the true leaves formed.

Both younger and slightly older Tokyo Microgreens tasted like mild cabbage with a slight bite of mustard. Milder for sure than all of the mustards we've grown.

But the crunch!

These microgreens crunch even more than fresh radish microgreens. We were surprised because they don't look like that type of microgreen.

Tokyo Bekana is an excellent microgreen for sandwiches, top salads, or float on soups because of its crunchy texture.

Do You Have a Pinterest Microgreen Board?

If not, why not start one! Use this pin as the first or add to your existing boards.

tokyo bekana microgreens

Give Tokyo Bekana Room to Grow

This plant loves to grow quickly and large!

If you want to know what the vegetable form looks like, click here to see some harvested for retail sale

Next year, I will be growing these in the garden to see how well they do and what they taste like.

But even as a microgreen, give some thought to seed density. We sell Tokyo Bekana seed for the Home Microgreens tray at 2-grams and 5.3-grams for 1010 trays per package.

That seed mass will produce a very full tray quickly.

If you want to economize seed, use less seed and let these microgreens grow larger. They will still taste great at the larger size.

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Author of this Article is Todd

Todd is the founder of Home Microgreens & the Home Microgreens store. He also writes for several other websites, including MyViewFromTheWoods.com.

His microgreens have appeared in Better Homes & Garden magazine and other websites.
Todd worked at a large farm market, garden & nursery center for 20-years. Somehow he snuck off to become a geologist and professor before coming back to his senses to write & lecture about microgreens and gardening. He will be in the garden, trout stream, or on a mountain trail with his Springer Spaniel Caden when not at the computer.

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