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If you’re looking for an easy-to-grow, nutrient-rich vegetable that can be used in a variety of dishes, bok choy is an excellent choice. In this article, we’ll cover everything you need to know about how to grow bok choy in your own garden.
What is Bok Choy?
Bok choy is Asian green, also known as Chinese cabbage, that belongs to the Brassica family, which includes other well-known vegetables like broccoli, cauliflower, and Brussels sprouts. It is low in calories and high in vitamins and minerals, making it a popular ingredient in many cuisines.
This vegetable is characterized by its large, dark green leaves and thick white stalks. Bok choy is native to China and has been cultivated for thousands of years. Today, it is grown in many parts of the world, including the United States, and is a staple ingredient in many Asian dishes.
Best Varieties: Grow Bok Choy
When it comes to choosing the right variety of bok choy to grow, there are several options available. Some popular varieties include:
|Variety||Days to Maturity||Description|
|Joi Choi||45-50 days||This is a fast-growing variety that produces tender, crisp stalks with dark green leaves. It is a popular choice for stir-fries and salads.|
|Baby Bok Choy||45-60 days||This variety produces small, tender heads with pale green leaves and white stems. It has a mild, slightly sweet flavor and is often used in soups and stir-fries.|
|Shanghai Bok Choy||50-60 days||This variety has thick, juicy stalks and dark green leaves. It has a slightly bitter flavor and is often used in stews and braises.|
|Ching-Chiang Bok Choy||60-70 days||This is a slower-growing variety that produces large, crunchy stalks with thick white ribs and dark green leaves. It has a slightly sweet flavor and is often used in salads and sandwiches.|
|Tatsoi||45-50 days||This variety has small, spoon-shaped leaves and a mild, mustard-like flavor. It is often used in Asian dishes and can be eaten raw or cooked.|
Choosing the Right Plants or Seeds
When it comes to growing bok choy, you have two options: starting with seeds or buying young plants. If you choose to grow bok choy from seed, you can either start them indoors or sow them directly in the ground. When buying young plants, make sure to select plants that look healthy and have a good root system. Avoid plants that look wilted or have yellowing leaves.
Grow Bok Choy from Seed
Starting Seeds Indoors
Starting bok choy from seed is an easy and cost-effective way to grow this tasty green in your garden. To get started, sow seeds indoors 4-6 weeks before the last frost date in your area. Fill your seed trays with a good quality seed starting mix. Drop about 2 or 3 seeds in each cell, then cover lightly with more mix.
Water the seeds gently and use a humidity dome to keep the soil moist. Bok choy seeds should germinate in 7-14 days. If you don’t have an area that receives at least 8 hours of direct sunlight then you’ll need to use a seedling grow light. Once the seedlings have their first true leaves, thin them out so that there is only one seedling per cell.
Before transplanting into the garden, be sure and harden off the seedlings by gradually acclimate them to full sun and outdoor conditions. This can be done by placing them outside in a sheltered area for a few hours each day.
When transplanting into the garden, dig a hole for each plant, and plant them so that the base of the stem is level with the soil surface. Water the plants well and keep the soil moist until they are established.
Direct Sowing Seeds Outdoors
Sow the seeds thinly, about ¼ inch deep and 2-3 inches apart. Cover the seeds with soil and water gently but thoroughly. Keep the soil moist until the seeds germinate, which should take around 7-14 days. Thin the seedlings so that each plant is spaced about 6-8 inches apart.
As the seedlings grow, keep the soil moist and fertilize every two weeks with a balanced fertilizer. Mulching around the plants can help to retain moisture in the soil and suppress weeds.
When to Plant Bok Choy
The exact month to plant bok choy can vary depending on your location and climate. In general, bok choy can be planted in early spring, after the last frost date. For a fall harvest, sow seeds about 8-10 weeks before the first expected frost.
Selecting the Right Location
Bok choy grows best in cool temperatures and partial shade. When selecting a location to grow your bok choy, look for a spot that gets morning sun and afternoon shade. If you live in a hot climate, consider growing your bok choy in a location that gets full shade.
In hot weather bok choy can bolt, or go to seed prematurely, . To avoid this, try to plant your bok choy in the early spring or fall, or in a location that receives partial shade during the hottest part of the day.
Ideal Soil to Grow Bok Choy
Bok choy prefers well-draining soil with a pH between 6.0 and 7.5 that is rich in organic matter. Before planting, amend your soil with compost or well-rotted manure. Make sure to work the organic matter into the soil to a depth of at least 6 inches.
Bok choy requires consistent moisture to thrive. Water your plants deeply once a week, making sure to soak the soil to a depth of at least 6 inches. During periods of extreme heat or drought, you may need to water your plants more frequently.
Additionally, providing consistent moisture and avoiding letting the soil dry out completely can help to prevent bolting.
Type of Fertilizer
Bok choy requires regular fertilization. Use a balanced water soluble fertilizer, such as a 10-10-10 or 20-20-20 formula, every 2-3 weeks during the growing season. Make sure to follow the manufacturer’s instructions for application
Harvesting Bok Choy
Bok choy is typically ready for harvest about 45-60 days after germination. You can either harvest the entire plant or just the outer leaves, leaving the inner leaves to continue growing. Use a knife to remove outer leaves to prevent tearing.
To harvest the entire plant, use a sharp knife or pair of scissors to cut the stem just above the soil line. Be sure to harvest before the plant starts to flower, as the leaves will become bitter at this point.
Pests and Diseases
Like most vegetables, bok choy is susceptible to pests and diseases.
|Flea beetles||Tiny holes in leaves, stunted growth||Apply neem oil or insecticidal soap, cover plants with row covers|
|Cabbage worms||Holes in leaves, green caterpillars present||Handpick caterpillars, apply Bacillus thuringiensis (Bt) or spinosad|
|Clubroot||Wilting, yellowing leaves, stunted growth||Avoid planting in infected soil, apply lime to soil to raise pH, rotate crops|
|Downy mildew||Yellow spots on leaves, fuzzy gray growth on undersides||Remove infected plants, improve air circulation, apply copper fungicide|
|Powdery mildew||White powdery growth on leaves, stunted growth||Remove infected leaves, improve air circulation, apply sulfur or potassium bicarbonate fungicide|
To prevent disease, make sure to rotate your crops every year and don’t grow bok choy in the same location for more than two years in a row. You can also use fungicides to control disease.
Summary: Proper Care and Maintenance
To ensure your bok choy stays healthy and productive, make sure to provide it with proper care and maintenance. Here are a few tips:
- Keep your plants well-watered: Consistent moisture is essential for bok choy to grow properly.
- Fertilize regularly: Bok choy is a heavy feeder and requires regular fertilization.
- Check for pests and diseases: Regularly inspect your plants for signs of pests or disease and take action promptly if you notice any issues.
- Provide shade: Bok choy prefers partial shade, so make sure to provide shade during periods of intense sunlight.
FAQ: Grow Bok Choy
Growing bok choy in your garden is an easy and rewarding experience. By following these tips and providing your plants with the right conditions, you can enjoy a bountiful harvest of this delicious and nutritious vegetable. If you have any experience or tips on how to grow bok choy, feel free to share them in the comments below. Happy gardening!