Bok choy or pak choi is a type of Chinese cabbage. Chinensis varieties do not form heads; instead, they have smooth, dark green leaf blades forming a cluster reminiscent of mustard or celery. Chinensis varieties are popular in southern China and Southeast Asia. Being winter-hardy, they are increasingly grown in Northern Europe. This group was originally classified as its own species under the name B. chinensis by Linnaeu
HOW TO GROW
- Growing bok choy is done best in cool weather. You can get two crops a year. If you are planting bok choy indoors, you want to start it before the winter and then transplant your growing bok choy two weeks later. Because bok choy is a cold weather vegetable, it can withstand cooler temperatures, so you could always start them directly in the ground at this point as well.
- Although you will be planting bok choy early in the season, you can start a second crop in late summer to be ready late fall. They only take 45-50 days to maturity, so this is easily done.
- Bok choy care is not really very tedious. Growing bok choy requires rich, loose soil. You should fertilize your bok choy early after planting.
- Once your seedlings are about four inches tall, you will want to thiny our growing bok choy to six to ten inches apart. If you have more than one row, place the rows 18 to 30 inches apart. You should keep your garden well weeded so the weeds don’t take away the nutrients from your bok choy plants.
- When you harvest bok choy, be sure to do it before the hot weather sets in with your first crop. Hot weather tends to make the bok choy go into seed very quickly. These are the first plants in the garden each spring because they can survive temperatures below 30 degrees F. Because you will be planting bok choy early, you will be harvesting it early as well.
- Bok choy care is not really very tedious. Growing bok choy requires rich, loose soil. You should fertilize your bok choy early after planting. Once your seedlings are about four inches tall, you will want to thinyour growing bok choy to six to ten inches apart. If you have more than one row, place the rows 18 to 30 inches apart. You should keep your garden well weeded so the weeds don’t take away the nutrients from your bok choy plants.
- Bacterial soft rot Heads or leaves turn brown or black, then rot.
- Black rot You see V-shaped, yellow spots that turn brown on leaves.
- Cabbage yellows, Fusarium wilt Large yellow areas developed on leaves, which then wilt, turn brown, and drop off. Often, leaves on only one side of the plants will show symptoms.
- Caterpillars: Cabbage loopers, imported cabbage worms, diamondback moth larvae, beet armyworms Large, irregular holes appear in the middle and on the edges of leaves. Leaves may be skeletonized (soft tissue is eaten away, tough veins remain). Look for caterpillars to confirm your diagnosis.
- Caterpillars: Cutworms Brown or green caterpillars hide in the soil and curl into a C shape when disturbed. They come out at night and mow down seedlings and plants just above the soil line.
- Downy mildew Leaves run yellow, and dark pits develop within the yellow areas. A thin, white coating appears on the undersides of discolored leaves.
- Flea beetles Many very small, round holes appear in leaves. You may also see tiny black beetles that jump like fleas.
- Grasshoppers Large holes appear on the edges and in the middle of leaves. They jump and fly about the field/garden.
- Harlequin bugs/stink bugs/tarnished plant bugs/lygus bugs Shield-shaped bugs on the plant pierce leaves and flower buds with their needle-like mouthparts. Leaves becomes spotted and twisted, then wilt and turn brown.
- Mosaic viruses Mottled yellow marks appear on leaves. Plants become stunted. Aphids spread this disease.
- Slugs and snails Large, irregular holes appear in the middle of leaves. Look for slime trails. They hide during the day and come out at night to raid your farm/garden.
- Whitefly Small, bright-white insects fly away when disturbed. Large colonies on the undersides of leaves deposit patches of white residue. A clear, sticky substance coats the upper surfaces of leaves.
- White mold/stem canker Fluffy, white, cottony mold develops from water-soaked spots on leaves and stems.
- As an excellent source of vitamin C, vitamin A (in the form of carotenoids), and manganese, and a good source of zinc, bok choy provides us with a concentration of these core conventional antioxidants.
- Bok choy has been included in human studies of cruciferous vegetables that have shown decreasing risk of certain cancers when these vegetables were consumed on a frequent basis, usually involving one or more daily servings. At least part of this protection has been associated with the glucosinolate content of the cruciferous vegetables, including bok choy. (Glucosinolates are unique sulfur-containing compounds that have been shown to have cancer-protective properties.) However, we have yet to see a study exclusively focused on bok choy in comparison to its fellow cruciferous vegetables, and we suspect that it would rank on the lower end in terms of its glucosinolate-related benefits since it contains a significantly lower amount of these sulfur-containing compounds than other vegetables in the cruciferous family like Brussels sprouts or mustard greens.