How to grow baby bok choy (pak choi)
Baby bok choy (or baby pak choi as it's also called) is so delicious! The plants grow so quickly too, it's such a joy to see them in my kitchen garden.
I have been taking great care of these tiny baby bok choy plants ever since I planted them on April 28. They are just lovely! I'm going to plant even more baby bok choy next year.
Grows in cooler temperatures
Bok choy is an Asian cabbage variety that grows best in spring and late summer or fall. They bolt in summer, and that's why you can't grow them in summer in this part of the world where the days are very long. Doing a sowing in April was by my standards actually late. I sowed seeds in March too, but they froze to death during a cold night. But my April sowing turned out perfect!
I'm growing the variety Green Fortune this year. It's a small baby bok choy variety. I really like the smaller varieties of for example lettuce and cabbage. They are really easy to cook with too!
I broadcast-sowed the bok choy. Broadcast sowing means scattering a bag of seeds on top of the soil in a trough, instead of sowing them one by one. I planted the bok choy plants in the final spot right after they germinated above ground. This is something I often do with vegetables that grow very quickly. It saves me some time since I don't need to plant them in a pot before putting them outside.
More about bok choy (pak choi): Growing baby pak choi
North-facing pallet collar bed
This spot is a pallet collar bed on the north side of our house, with six rows of cabbage with eight plants in each row. The information on the seed packet specifies that the plants should be 12 inches (around 30 centimeters) apart. But I don't think it's necessary when they are so small. I cover the cabbage plants with fresh grass clippings as soon as they grow a little larger. This is a really important step since this spring has been so incredibly dry so far. The grass clippings protect the soil from drying out and also provide some extra nutrients. I water regularly so that the plants don't stop growing, and I have also fertilized with diluted urine once.
I can start harvesting my baby bok choy six weeks after sowing. And they taste incredible! I cut them lengthwise and pan-fry them in some rapeseed oil, soy, garlic, and ginger. It's so good!
Flowering and harvest
I posted a picture on Instagram and got some questions about flowering bok choy. Mostly about what you can do to prevent them from bolting, and when it's time to harvest the bok choy.
The bok choy will bolt because it wants to make sure it has time to spread its seeds (this happens after the flowering.) The plant gets stressed when it's hot, dry and plenty of sun outside and this is when you will start noticing buds on your bok choy. When this happens, there's really only one thing you can do: eat it. You can't prevent the bok choy from bolting other than creating a good environment for your bok choy to begin with, for example by sowing the seeds early and watering them regularly.
More about cabbage: My winter-sown cabbage
When should you start harvesting then? Well, when the bok choy is the right size for you. The plants will start bolting in early summer, so try to harvest and eat them continuously. You could also harvest them leaf by leaf like you would with lettuce. But at this time of year, I think it's better to just harvest the entire plant.
It's time to start sowing new bok choy in July/August, a few weeks apart. You can plant the cabbage in your beds outside or in a pallet collar. Later in fall, the polytunnel or greenhouse is a great spot for the baby bok choy.