Is Wasabia japonica the most difficult herb to grow successfully?
Since we have been growing Wasabia japonica from 1990, one of the things we have heard continually is that this plant is the most difficult herb in the World to grow properly.
In some aspects, this is true. If you don’t get the growing conditions just right then the plant dies. In fact, we believe that the Wasabi plants preferred state of existence is dead!
Last month, we made the claim that we are probably the World’s experts on killing Wasabi, and we think this is still true. On the other hand we are also the experts on what not to do, as over the last few decades we have tried many things to try to keep the Wasabi alive. In most cases, we have succeeded. We did have a few (understatement) mishaps where we killed everything off and started again.
One of the things we discovered early on was that you had to use all Stainless Steel equipment, or potable water fittings. It was no good relying on anything less.
When we were getting other people cloning plants for us, they also found out in a big way that using the wrong materials killed Wasabi.
These were professional cloners that had been doing our work for a while and without them knowing it, one of their suppliers reformulated the little Agar plastic growing vessels. These new plastic pots exuded some sort of chemical into the growing gel and the plants died to a man. The interesting thing is that with other plants that they also cloned in very large numbers, there was no problem. They went back to using glass pots for the Wasabi clones at great inconvenience to them.
So we have to use the expensive materials to grow Wasabi. We also need to control the environment to a great degree. The water and air temperature, the pH of the water, and the amount of fertiliser in the water are all important. Get any of these outside their own particular growing limits, and you guessed it – dead!
The good thing is; once you have all the conditions just right, with everything operating within the limits dictated by the Wasabi plant, then they grow like weeds.
Automation would seem to be the answer, and we do use it, BUT there is nothing better than the human eye and brain to see a problem before it gets out of control. Because of that we always spend part of each day walking around and eyeballing everything. In Management talk, it is called “Management by Walking Around”. I kid you not.
So, getting back to the point. You can grow Wasabi anywhere in the World so long as you think outside the square and make the environment fit the plant, rather than the other way round.
We are setting up a Wasabi farm on the Equator at the moment. What fun!
If you are interested in growing, then sign up to join the Wasabi Growers Club where you will find a lot more information about growing the difficult herb Wasabia japonica.
Michel Van Mellaerts (The Wasabi Maestro) is the recognized World authority and expert on the practical Growing, Processing and Marketing of Wasabia japonica. He and his wife have been commercially growing Wasabia japonica longer than anyone else outside Japan.
Trained as an Engineer he has invented and installed many improved growing systems into their farms. These enable high quality Wasabi to be grown anywhere in the World.
The Wasabi Maestroes have set up commercial Wasabi growing farms from the Arctic Circle to Southern New Zealand, including the Equator. They have worked with individual growers, national governments, and investment groups on four continents.
These growing systems have reduced growing times by nearly 67%, improved yield and quality of the Wasabi rhizome, and increased the levels of active ingredients by nearly 100%. It is these active ingredients that independent scientific studies show kills cancer cells and improves human health.
They pioneered the use of Wasabia japonica in the Nutraceutical and Medical industries. They are at the leading edge of research into the benefits of Wasabi on human and animal health.
The Wasabi Maestroes offer a Training and Consultancy service for potential and actual Wasabi growers who only want to learn from the best. Others spend their time floundering around trying to find out what information is useful and what isn’t.
The Training has been proven and improved over the last 20 years plus of personal commercial Wasabi growing. This has been hands on, getting wet and dirty work – not guesswork from behind a desk.