Bok Choy (Brassicas tectorius) is a member of the cabbage family and it is commonly known as Chinese cabbage or Chinese turnip. It grows well in most soil types and conditions, but prefers moist soil with good drainage. Bok choy needs full sun during the day and partial shade at night. Bok choy does not tolerate frost very well, so keep your plants away from any source of cold weather. Bok choy is one of the best vegetables to use as a cheap substitute for lettuce. Bok choy is also considered a superfood because it contains high levels of vitamin C, fiber, potassium and other nutrients.
How To Grow Bok Choy?
Growing bok choy requires proper care and attention. If you are new to growing bok choy, then you need to start off slowly and build up your experience gradually.
You will have to provide water regularly. You can do this by using a sprinkler system. Watering bok choy daily is recommended. A watering schedule of every other day is sufficient, but if you want to increase the amount of moisture in your garden, then weekly watering might be better than every other day.
Bok choy roots require regular fertilization too, so make sure that you give them enough fertilizer each month.
Bok choy prefers full sun during the day and partial shade at night. In fact, it is beneficial if you can provide a tall curtain of foliage for it (like a tree would do) during the night so that bok choy can receive some shade without completely blocking out all of the sunlight.
Since bok choy is mostly grown as a cool season crop, it should be planted in early spring and late fall. It can also be grown in the summer, but it will have to be protected from extreme heat and drought.
Bok choy prefers fertile, loamy soil with a PH level of 6.2-6.8.
Plant bok choy seeds ¼” deep and about 1″ apart. You should soak the seeds in water overnight before planting them. Plant them in rows that are about 12″ apart. Once the seeds are planted, gently cover them with soil and keep the soil moist.
Sunlight and warmth help the seeds sprout, so make sure that the planting location is nice and sunny.
Thinning is not a major task when growing bok choy, but it still is something that you will have to do. You will have to thin out the seedlings so that they are about 6″ apart. Also, remove any plant that appears to be sickly or diseased.
Once your bok choy plants reach about 6″ in height, it is time to start harvesting them. You can either cut the entire plant at the base or just cut off the larger outside leaves and let the smaller ones grow more. You can harvest the entire plant as soon as it reaches a desired size or you can wait until it starts to flower and create seeds.
Bok choy is best eaten when it is young because the older leaves contain a stronger taste and smell.
Insects and Pests
Bok choy is susceptible to the same insects and pests that can affect other cole crops, but it has its own insect and disease problems too.
Cutworms are one of the most common pests to affect bok choy. They like to hide during the day and then come out at night to eat the leaves. You can prevent cutworms by putting a cutworm collar around each plant.
Slugs also like to eat bok choy, so you will need to keep an eye out for them and kill them when you see one. You can also use a slug killer that you can spray on your plants.
Harvesting bok choy
Harvesting bok choy is fairly easy to do. You can cut off the entire plant at the base or you can pick individual leaves as you need them. The entire leaf is edible, but the upper part of the leaf is a little tougher and stronger tasting than the bottom part.
You can leave your bok choy to go to seed if you want to collect its seeds later. The seeds can either be planted or they can be eaten right away if you want to try them.
Bok choy is fairly easy to grow and doesn’t have many major problems. Because it grows so quickly, it can sometimes attract insects that like to eat fast growing plants.
Cutworms are one of the most common insects that affect bok choy. They are mostly a problem if you live in an area that has a long spring or summer season. They burrow underground during the day and come out at night to eat. You can prevent them from eating your plants by putting a collar of cardboard around the base of the bok choy and covering it with soil.
The cutworms will crawl down into the soil to get to the roots, but they won’t be able to climb back out because of the cardboard collars. As they die, they will also act as fertilizer for your plants.
Leaf miners like to eat tiny tunnels in bok choy leaves.
Sources & references used in this article:
Evaluation and economics of a rotating cultivator in bok choy, celery, lettuce, and radicchio by SA Fennimore, RF Smith, L Tourte, M LeStrange… – Weed Technology, 2014 – BioOne
Absorbability of calcium from brassica vegetables: broccoli, bok choy, and kale by RP Heaney, CM Weaver, SM Hinders… – Journal of Food …, 1993 – Wiley Online Library
… test of rhizobacteria as biostimulant, vesicular arbuscular mycorhizza (VAM) and graded dose of NPK fertilizer on the growth of bok choy (Brassica rapa L.) by KD Shuler, SJ Nie, PAN Shuler – Proc. Fla. State Hort. Soc, 2001
Measurements of nitrous oxide emissions from vegetable production in China by S Widawati – IOP Conference Series: Earth and Environmental …, 2020 – iopscience.iop.org
Performance of Compost from Waterthyme (Hydrilla verticillata) in Bok Choy Growth (Brassica chinensis) by Z Xiong, Y Xie, G Xing, Z Zhu, C Butenhoff – Atmospheric Environment, 2006 – Elsevier
The Allelopathic Effects Characteristics of Fresh Jatropha (Jatropha curcas L.) Leaves Extract on the Germination and Growth of Bok Choy (Brassica rapa L.) Sprouts by RD Safitri, Y Fitrial, F Fatmawati… – International Journal of …, 2019 – journal-repository.com