How To Grow Bok Choy
Plant Type: Biennial/Annual
Scientific Name: Brassica rapa, Chinensis
Light: Full Sun
Soil Type: Well drained, light & high in organic material
Soil Temperature: 50 – 80°
ph Range: 4.5 – 7.0
Plant (Payson): April – May / August – September
Planting Method: Seed or transplant
Germination (days): 7 – 14
Transplant: as early as possible
Maturity(days): 70 – 75
Common Pests: Asparagus Beetles, cabbage worms
Common Diseases: Leaf Spots
Bok choy, also know as pak choi, bok choi, and pak choy, is a cool weather vegetable and is sometimes called Chinese cabbage. Bok choy is a non-heading cabbage and typically has green leaves that look like Swiss Chard and white stalks that resemble celery stalks. Because they can survive temperatures below 30° they are often times the first crop planted in the garden and do very well in our area as a winter vegetable that tolerates our winter temperatures.
Like most cool weather veggies they do not do well during the heat of summer and therefore should be planted as early as possible in the season for spring and early summer harvest or in late summer for fall harvest.
There are several varieties of Bok Choy: Green stem, White stem, specialty Bok Choys including yellow, purple, red and violet hybrids. There are also dwarf varieties which grow 4-6 inches in height. Check your local nursery for recommendations and availability.
Bok Choy prefers rich loose soil with a pH of 6.0 – 7.5. Add plenty of mature compost before planting. To prepare soil, till in aged manure or compost. Do not plant Bok Choy in the same area of your garden where you have grown other cabbage related plants in the last two years. Crop rotation prevents soil borne diseases and promotes nutrient rich soil.
Plant Bok Choy in the full sun, though they can tolerate partial shade. Partial shade may be best for summer crops or in areas with a particularly hot spring or fall season.
Transplant the seedlings (or nursery starter plants) into your garden as soon as possible so they can be harvested before it gets hot. Bok Choy takes only 45-50 days to maturity so you may want to start a second crop two weeks later. Hot weather will make the Bok Choy bitter, more susceptible to disease & insect infestation and go to seed faster.
Bok Choy does best if seeds are directly sown into a fertile, well-tilled garden bed—transplanting may cause shock. However, if planting for spring, harvest seeds may be started indoors 3 to 4 weeks before the last hard freeze—seeds will germinate in 7-10 days.
If planting for fall harvest, seeds can be direct seeded into your garden in late summer. Sow seeds ¼ to ½ inch deep. Keep the soil moist and thin seedlings as needed to desired spacing—depending on the variety you are growing (check seed packet). Seedlings can be transplanted. Place rows 18 to 24 inches apart.
Use heavy mulch to deter weeds.
Bok Choy plants will need consistently moist soil during germination to do their best. Bok Choy needs ample moisture to thrive and prevent premature bolting. Keep the soil moist with regular, even watering and shade to help retain moisture.
Bok Choy may need additional nutrients and fertilizer, add an organic fertilizer that contains more nitrogen than phosphorous. Apply again after thinning or transplanting. Fertilize 3 weeks after transplanting. Continue mulching as well.
As with all veggies weeding is important for the health of your vegetables. Keep the garden well-weeded so the weeds don’t take nutrients from your Bok Choy plants. DISEASE
Bok Choy should be harvested when the plant reaches 12-18 inches in height. The entire plant can be used at various stages of development. As soon as the leaves are of the desired size they can be harvested. Pick leaves from the outside in and bottom up, the plant will continue to produce smaller leaves until the plant goes to seed. After harvesting, remove the root system from the soil to prevent disease buildup. Only compost healthy plants; carefully place those with insect infestation and soil borne diseases in the dumpster.
You can serve Bok Choy raw or cooked. This leafy vegetable is great in soups, salads and stir-fries. It can be steamed, boiled, sautéed, baked or dehydrated. Bok Choy will keep for 3 days unwashed in a plastic bag in the refrigerator. Make sure it is dry before storing. The leaves may be dipped in hot water and dehydrated for later use.
To freeze the stalks and leaves choose only Bok Choy stalks that are pure white, and firm. Look for leaves that are dark green and are not wilted. Avoid: wilted, broken, spotted or rusty looking stalks and leaves, limp stalks, and any discoloration. Take the time to blanch Bok Choy before freezing to ensure the best flavor and color later. Blanching before you freeze slows the natural enzyme action in the leaves that would otherwise cause them to become discolored and bitter upon thawing.