Bok Choy is from the family of Brassica rapa (Chinensis group).
Bok choy is a well known vegetable for stir fries. I like to use the stalk like celery in all of my cooking. It is a relatively easy vegetable to grow. In two months you have a crop from seed to table.
Bok Choy makes an excellent potted plant.
I find bok choy very useful in edible landscaping as it grows very quickly and it looks very stunning.
Bok Choy came to Europe by the Celts in the late 1800’s. Then it traveled to the United States about 100 years later. I am surprised that this delicious vegetable has not taken off until recently. Bok Choy is also known by many other names such as pak choi, celery cabbage, chinese celery, and chinese mustard cabbage. Bok choy is a Brassica rapa and is most closely related to the mustard and not the cabbage. The mandarin name for this wonderful vegetable is bai cai, which means white vegetable.
Growing bok choy may be the easiest vegetable you have ever grown. Bok choy prefers soil with a Ph of 6.0 to 7.5 making it ideal for our area. Bok choy prefers full sun. Choose a site that is well drained so that you will not get crown rot. Adding a fair amount of compost will help with this as well. Bok choy is a very greedy feeder just like its relatives in the brassica family. Start by adding an ample amount of well rotted manure or compost into your garden bed before planting and mix it in well.
There are many different varieties of bok choy wong bok has a base that compact in a heading fashion. There are mini varieties as well. They will all do quite well here.
Sow seeds after the chance of frost has passed. Sow seeds from February 15 – March 15 and again from August 15 – November 7. Sow seeds 8 inches apart for dwarf varieties and 12 inches apart for full sized varieties. Space the rows 12 to 24 inches apart. It is a good idea to plant onions, dill, rosemary, and garlic in between the rows to try and confuse the cabbage moths. Watch the weather in the spring, and don’t plant too early or your plants will bolt. If plants are exposed to temperatures below 50 degrees F for one week in the spring the plants will be likely to bolt.
Make sure to give your bok choy ample water as it has shallow roots.
Feed your bok choy 4 weeks after planting as it is a very greedy feeder.
Continually check your Bok Choy for cabbage loopers, and cabbage root maggots. Once the insects have been spotted a routine spraying with Bacillus thuringiensis should be used. One way to avoid the cabbage loopers is to use floating row covers.
After about 30 days your bok choy should be ready to start harvesting. You should cut the stems at the base. When the plant is closer to maturity it will weigh about three to four pounds. At this time (or earlier if you choose so) you can cut the whole plant at the base. Bok choy is a Cut and Come Again (CCA) crop. It will grow back and you will enjoy another harvest. At one point you will experience bolting of your crop. This is where a flowering stalk is sent up. But do not despair, the flowers on this stalk are very sweet and yummy. As a matter of fact the whole stalk is sweet. You need to eat quick though.
Bok Choy should be picked first thing in the morning to keep it from being bitter. Make sure that your bok choy is dry, put it in a container or plastic bag and it will last in the fridge for a week or two.
Bok Choy is loaded with Vitamins A, K, C, manganese and Folate.
Of course you know that stir frying is a great way to make bok choy. I use the stems and leaves in soups and stews. I interchange the stems with celery quite frequently as they have a nice crunch and a very mild flavor. The leaves have a very mild mustard or cabbage flavor.