Brassica rapa, one of several Chinensis cultivars of this species
Pak choi is one of the Asian greens, a type of Chinese cabbage. This quick growing cabbage builds a very loose head with long green leaves and succulent white stems. The stems and leaves are the vegetable and are about 30 cm high. Pak choi is high in vitamin A and vitamin C. If pak choi goes to flower it shows the typical cross-shaped flower of the cabbage family with four petals.
How to grow:
Sow directly 3 mm deep in well drained and lightly fertilised soil where it’s supposed to grow. Sow in spots 40 cm apart. Put in 3 seeds per spot, 2 cm apart. Firm down and keep moist. Choose a sunny or partly shady place. Plants appear within 6 to 10 days. Thin the plants to 2 and finally one plant per spot, 40 cm apart and mulch between the plants. Plants need to be watered consistently.
Harvest in 7 to 9 weeks.
Growing in the neighbourhood:
Likes to grow with lettuce, kale, endive, tatsoi, mizuna, cucumber, onions
Pests and other problems and how we deal with them:
Caterpillars of butterflies, especially the white cabbage butterfly are pests on pak choi. We keep them out by netting the bed with a 5-10 mm net as long as the plants are small. A bit of leaf loss on mature plants is tolerable, if caterpillars take away too much leaf material we spray the plants with a bacterial solution that controls them.
All members of the cabbage family can be affected by a single-celled organism deforming the roots and making it hard for the plants to take up water. The problem is called club root and requires serious soil treatment. We try to avoid this by strictly rotating crops.
Autumn to early Spring
Pak choi cross pollinates with other plants of the cabbage family. In order to collect useful seeds the mother-plant would need to be kept isolated.
How to harvest and use:
Pick single outer leaves or harvest whole plant. The leaves and stems are kept to be eaten, the roots at the bottom are taken to the compost.
Pak choi can be used in stir fries. It’s are also great quickly blanched, served with a sauce or added to soups. It goes well with garlic, ginger, mushrooms, soy sauce, tofu, pork, white fish, chicken.