JULY VEGETABLE OF THE MONTH IS BOK CHOY or PECHAY
Scientific Name: Brassica rapa subsp. chinensis
Family: Brassicaceae (Cabbage family)
How to grow Bok Choy in containers is fairly easy. But before that, a little background. The word Bok Choy comes from a Chinese term that literally translates to “blue-green vegetable.” And if you stare at the dark green leaves of this vegetable, you may indeed detect a bluish hue. A mainstay in Chinese cuisine, this has very low calories (20 calories per cup!), and is full of Vitamins A, C, and K, and lots of minerals like Potassium and Calcium.
Tips on how to grow Bok Choy in containers
When growing Bok Choy in containers in your home garden, keep in mind the following tips:
- Use containers that are at least 15 cm (6 inches) deep. In my experience, 1.5 liter soda bottles seem to work fine.
- Well-drained, loamy soil is best. These plants hate watery soil
- Germinate seeds in a seedling tray.
- Transfer seedlings to containers when at least 2 or 3 true leaves have appeared. Make sure to keep that the center of the whorl where the new leaves appear above the soil level.
- Keep plants in sunny area with at least 6 hours of daylight.
- Never allow soil to dry up. These plants wilt easily.
- To avoid cabbage worms, loopers, etc., you may choose to cover plants with a net or spray with an organic pesticide.
- Harvest only outer large leaves to keep the supply going for a longer time.
Note: These tips on how to grow bok choy in containers are based on my experience. Other gardeners sow the seeds directly in the pots. I prefer to transfer so that the hypocotyl (lower stem) can be planted below soil level (see photo below).
How to grow bok choy in containers successfully may take a little bit of dedication, but it’s a rewarding experience to have readily available fresh, chemical-free Chinese greens at home. The challenge lies in keeping the cabbage worms at bay. Make sure to harvest before they proliferate in your area.
Cooking Suggestions for Bok Choy
- Stir-fried is still the most popular. Use minimal ingredients (garlic and soy sauce) to retain the delicate flavor.
- Boiled in soups, like the Filipino “Nilaga” or “Pochero”.
- As ingredient in stews, like “Kare-kare”, a type of peanut stew.
- Chopped and eaten raw with tomatoes, onions, and vinaigrette dressing.