The expression “Chinese cabbage” describes two different kinds of brassicas. One, the Napa type, is distinguished by its closely packed, crisp, light green leaves. The other, pak choi or bok choy, has heads that are more loosely shaped, with white stalks topped by wide, dark green leaves. Both may be eaten raw but also hold up nicely for sautéing, braising and baking. An awesome variety of varieties can be found; some of the most common are listed below.
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When to plant: Best in midsummer for a fall harvest. You can also sow early, slow-to-bolt types in spring following nighttime temperatures reach 50 degrees Fahrenheit.
Days to maturity: 50 to 85
Light requirement: Full sun; partial shade where hot
Water necessity: Frequent
Napa: Blues, Bilko, China Bride, Jade Pagoda, Michihli, Minuet, Rubicon
Pak choi (bok choy): Joi Choi, Mei Quing Choi, ToiChoi
Planting and care: Sow seeds 1/4 to 1/2 inch deep and 1 to 2 inches apart. Lean pak choi seedlings to 2 inches apart; narrow different varieties around 18 inches apart, depending upon the final head dimensions. The soil should be fertile and well drained. Do not plant in which you’ve implanted other cabbage relatives in the previous couple of years.
Keep the soil evenly moist and weed free. Feed it one time during the growing season using a complete fertilizer.
Like other cabbage relatives, Chinese cabbage is vulnerable to numerous diseases and pests. Keep the garden clean and await encroaching pests to fight an invasion premature. Check for signs of disease and treat or remove the plant.
Harvest: Cut the whole head of Napa-type cabbages if they reach full size. For pak choi types, either trim the head or crop individual leaves. Harvest in fall or in spring. Pak choi blossoms are edible.