How to grow pak choi (or Chinese cabbage)

How to grow pak choi (or Chinese cabbage)

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The pak choi it is a particular kind of cabbage with a very similar appearance to chard. Precisely for this similarity, in Italy it is called cabbage chard or Chinese cabbage, given its oriental origins. It is, in fact, a typical vegetable of Chinese cuisine, present in numerous recipes. Its size is small compared to other cabbage plants, so its cultivation is perfect to be practiced in home gardens, where spaces are always tight. With the necessary precautions, it is an easy plant to grow and rather rustic. In the kitchen it is appreciated for its versatility and excellent nutritional properties.

So let's see all the techniques of organic cultivation of pak-choi.

Pak choi identification

Pak choi takes the scientific name of Brassica rapa chinensis and is part of the great botanical family of the Brassicaceae (or Cruciferae), which includes the most common vegetables such as: cauliflower, broccoli cabbage, turnip greens, romanesco broccoli, savoy cabbage is hood.

Botanical characteristics of the Chinese cabbage

At first glance, Chinese cabbage has all the appearance of one chard plant. When ripe, it forms a medium-sized head that can even reach one kg in weight. Numerous leaves branch off from the collar, formed by wide ribs in the middle part, ending in dark green leaves. The leaves of the pak-choi have an almost entire margin, smooth lamina and a showy white rib. The root of the plant is taproot, quite short and squat, from which numerous secondary lateral radicles branch off.

How to grow pak choi

There cultivation of pak choi that of a normal cabbage plant. It loves cool, humid weather and suffers from heat and drought. It can be grown all over Italy, but it is better to do it in the autumn season or at the end of winter. It is not a very suitable plant for spring and summer cultivation, as, in the heat, it tends to harden the leaves and easily go to seed. From planting, it takes about 80 days to mature completely. So the ideal is plant the pak choi at the end of summer, in order to be able to harvest it before the arrival of intense and prolonged frosts that could ruin it.

Sowing and seedlings of Chinese cabbage

To start growing Chinese cabbage in our home garden, you need to buy the seeds or seedlings. Our nurseries hardly have this kind of cabbage in their production, however seeds are easily found on the net.

Sow Pak Choi

Starting from seed, the seedlings can then be sown with the seedbed technique. There direct sowing instead it is not recommended. The advice we give is to use the polystyrene containers with the appropriate cells where the seedlings develop. Use a good potting soil (like these) for sowing. In each single alveolus leave 1-2 seeds, at a depth of about 2-3 mm. If both seeds sprout, discard the weaker sprout. The soil must always be kept well moist, but never soaked with water, to avoid rotting. The seedbed can be placed outdoors, but it is better to avoid full sun, especially for summer sowing. Consider that, from the moment of sowing, a pak-choi seedling takes about 30 days to be ready for transplanting. So calculate the times well, for example: sowing on 1 August, we will have the seedlings on 1 September, and so on.

Soil preparation for transplanting

Pak choi is very rustic and fits well in different types of soil. However, to develop to the maximum, it prefers loose and well-drained soils, with a good supply of humus. The soil must be prepared in time, with a first dig and then a superficial hoeing. If it is poor in organic matter, it is better to amend some fertilizer, such as mature manure, the home compost or theearthworm humus. Evaluate well where you are going to plant, since, of course, the plant follows the normals crop rotations. Specifically, it cannot be grown where other cabbage plants have been before. If you follow a crop that has recently benefited from good fertilization, for example a cultivation of tomatoes, no further fertilization is necessary.

Chard cabbage transplant distances

Compared to other varieties of cabbage, this chard cabbage is smaller in size. At the time of transplanting, it is therefore sufficient to leave 30 cm of space between one plant and another on the row, and 50 cm between the rows.

Chinese cabbage watering

As mentioned, Chinese cabbage prefers moist soils. Therefore it is important to ensure constant wetting. If the transplant takes place in the summer for sure, one will be needed proper artificial irrigation, preferably with drip plant. Let's consider, however, that pak-choi is usually grown in autumn, rainfalls should be frequent. If this condition occurs, there is no need to irrigate.


To keep the soil wetter and also avoid the growth of weeds, pak choi takes advantage of mulch. We will thus avoid the works of weeding and we will need less watering.


The cabbage chard suffers from the attacks of some parasites, specifically:

  • Snails
  • Cabbage
  • Altica
  • Waxy cabbage aphid

When to harvest pak choi

Like chard, which is harvested leaf by leaf, pak choi is also harvested progressively, leafing through the plant starting from the outside, that is, from the largest leaves. This happens once the head is well formed. Many prefer to collect it entirely, undermining the plant with the root. In any case, it is advisable not to delay the harvest too much, to prevent the leaves from hardening or getting damaged. Underdeveloped plants are more tender and with a milder flavor.

Recipes with pak choi

Pak-choi is very popular with chefs, as it can be eaten both raw and cooked.
From raw, of course, the most tender tufts are chosen. Another point in favor of this chard cabbage, compared to the classic cabbages, is its digestibility.
There are many recipes that can be made with its leaves. From raw it is consumed in salads, seasoned with extra virgin olive oil and lemon. In Chinese cuisine, the broad leaves are blanched and used to make rolls with rice and other vegetables to taste.

Nutritional contents of Chinese cabbage

Excellent are also the nutritional content some Chinese cabbage. It is in fact a vegetable rich in Vitamins C and A and mineral salts (potassium, iron, calcium and phosphorus). It also contains antioxidant substances that protect the body from aging, in particular: dithioltions, glucosinolates, indoles, isothiocyanates, coumarins, phenols.

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Organic cultivation

Organic Cultivation is a blog that was born from our desire to spread the good practices of organic farming. To do this we decided to give our knowledge to anyone who wants to get involved and create their own vegetable garden (even using a terrace or a simple balcony). Growing without the use of pesticides is possible and we want to prove it by presenting alternatives biological and effective for any type of problem linked to agriculture.

How to grow Dwarf Pak Choi

Sow dwarf pak choi seeds directly in the garden after the last winter frosts. Choose a site with fertile, well-drained and as much sun exposure as possible. Sow seeds no deeper than 1/2 inch, leaving three inches between seeds and 12 inches between rows. Thin out the seedlings once they appear, leaving eight inches between the plants.

fertilize the nano pak choi with a balanced fertilizer, at the dose recommended by the manufacturer, four weeks later the seedlings appear. Water as the soil surface begins to dry out, aiming to wet the soil to a depth of 6 inches. Remove all weeds as they appear.

Monitor your plants for signs of pests like cabbage worms and flea beetles. Pick off large insects by hand or by spraying your pak choi with an insecticidal product containing the bacterium Bacillus thuringiensis.

harvest the outer leaves of the large heads after about 30-40 days or when they are large enough to handle. Collect whole heads as soon as the first few plants start to send up flower stems as flowering plants get tough.

Sow a second crop of dwarf pak choi in the middle to late summer, at least 40 days before the date of the first frost.

How to grow Pak Choi in Pots

Pak choi, sometimes called bok choi, a mild-flavored Chinese cabbage. Adult plants grow 1-2 meters tall, but gardeners often harvest pak choi early, about 6 centimeters tall. Planting vegetables in containers allows you to grow fresh vegetables if you have little or no land in which to plant. And you can place the containers near the kitchen, which makes it convenient for water, food and harvest.Things you will need
Pot, 20 in
deep loam
Peat (optional)
Vermiculite (optional)
Compost (optional)
Butter knife
water soluble fertilizer
Sharp knife
Show More Instructions
Plant Pak Choi

Select a plate 20 inches deep. The width depends on how many pak choi you want to grow in each dish. Grow one pak choi in a 6-inch diameter pot or four pak choi plants in a 24-inch wide container. An 8- to 12-inch long planter also works. Make sure the pot contains drainage holes in the bottom.

buy commercial potting soil or create your own. A mixture of one part peat, one part vermiculite and one part loam or potting soil works well for pak choi. Place the soil items in a bucket and mix thoroughly.

Mix the potting soil with water until it feels light and crumbly. Fill the pot up to 1 inch below the top. Smooth with your hand.

Scoop holes in the pot 6 inches apart. Make the holes 1mm wider than the root balls of the pak choi seedlings.

run a butter knife under the roots of the pak choi and gently lift the loose plant. Handle the seedlings carefully to avoid breaking the delicate stems.

Place a pak choi plant in each hole and push the soil back around the roots. Smooth out the pot earth.

Wet each pot with water until it starts to come out of the holes in the bottom.
Ascending Pak Choi
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place the pot in a spot that gets full sun. Choi Pak requires a minimum of six hours of sunshine but more sunshine is preferable.

Check the soil before water. Stick your index finger into the top 1 inch of soil and pull it out. If the soil grains stick to your finger, keep watering at bay. Water when the ground does not stick to the finger.

Pak choi fertilization right after planting and again 4-6 weeks later. Use a balanced water soluble fertilizer, such as a 14-14-14 or 20-20-20 fertilizer ratio. Find the size of the pot you are using in the instructions, and add the amount of specific fertilizer for that pot size.

Harvest pak choi when it is between 6 and 24 inches tall. Harvested at 6 inches, baby pak choi has the most delicate texture and taste. Cut each plant to the soil line with a sharp knife.

The cultivation of Chinese cabbage



Deep, fresh, fun and furniture. Don't hesitate to make contributions of mature compost.

Sowing of Chinese cabbage

On soft ground, Clear sowing, in progress, from mid-June to the end of August. Seedlings made earlier can sow very quickly.

Sow in rows 40 cm apart. Keep only one plant every 30 cm.

Chinese cabbage appreciates freshness but not cold. Only southern gardeners will be able to try September sowing.


Chinese cabbage appreciates the fresh soil: binez, grass and water at the first sign of drought. As soon as the plants are tall enough, put mulch on their foot.


1 month and a half to 3 months after sowing, as and when needed. The setting allows the storage of the last few feet.

Once harvested, the leaves must be eaten quickly.

Read: Chinese Cabbage: Cooking and Nutrition

Parasites and parasites

Watch out for snail attacks on seedlings, flying flea beetles, and kohlrabi caterpillars.

Associated plants

Cabbages do not like the proximity of alliaceae (garlic, onions, leeks.) And other cabbages.

Sow in place, between mid-July and mid-August, in seedlings of 3 to 4 seeds every 30 cm distance between rows of 40 cm. It takes a week to see the seeds grow. After lifting, you will only keep the best foot of each pit.

Be careful, too early sowing favors the increase of Chinese cabbage seeds. Also, contrary to theory, you will better manage your crops until mid-August to make your seedlings like Chinese cabbage therefore benefit from a warm earth first, and secondly, less strong and more humid air temperatures.

Chinese cabbage in a pan

First of all, remove the Chinese cabbage leaves from the head and wash them well. Then cut them into thin strips and place them in a large non-stick pan with a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil, salt, chilli and a clove of poached and crushed garlic.

Cook the Chinese cabbage for about 15 minutes or until it is softened and all the water formed during cooking has evaporated. Once the Chinese cabbage in the pan is ready, you can serve it like this.

Or add a spoonful of breadcrumbs and pour it into a measuring pan to brown in the oven for 5 - 7 minutes. Serve the Chinese cabbage in a pan and sautéed in a hot or warm oven.

If necessary, it can be prepared in advance and heated in a traditional oven or microwave before serving.

The Chinese cabbage contains some compounds that can to interfere with the production of thyroid hormones. However, it must be pointed out that it would be necessary to consume it large quantities to enter the risk zone. If you have problems with the thyroid however, to be on the safe side, consult your doctor before consuming this vegetable.

In addition to the many names by which it is known, in some regions it is also sometimes called soup spoon. This name is due to the shape of his stem and of leaves which recalls that of a spoon.

When buying this vegetable it is better to choose the specimens with leaves dark greens and with a stiff, white stem. These features ensure the freshness some vegetables.

Once purchased, the Chinese cabbage it must be kept in the refrigerator for a maximum period of 7 days.

Although it is available throughout the year, it is best to enjoy it during the winter period. This vegetable grows best in spring and autumn as it suffers from the heat. It takes about two months from sowing to harvesting.

This vegetable a green leaf it is mainly used in the preparation of kimchi, savory and fermented dishes.

The Chinese cabbage contains a compound antioxidant called brassinin which has been shown in studies to have property preventive chemo. (11)

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