Vegetable Gardening at Home: How To Grow Bok Choy In Containers

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.

How to grow Bok Choy in containers

Bok choy can grow quite well in 1.5L soda bottles.

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:

  1. Use containers that are at least 15 cm (6 inches) deep. In my experience, 1.5 liter soda bottles seem to work fine.
  2. Well-drained, loamy soil is best. These plants hate watery soil
  3. Germinate seeds in a seedling tray.
  4. 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.
  5. Keep plants in sunny area with at least 6 hours of daylight.
  6. Never allow soil to dry up. These plants wilt easily.
  7. To avoid cabbage worms, loopers, etc., you may choose to cover plants with a net or spray with an organic pesticide.
  8. 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).

bok choy seedlings

Bok choy seedling showing hypocotyl. I prefer sowing before transplanting, so the lower part of the stem can be planted below soil (Photo courtesy of gardentowok).

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.

Stir fried Bok Choy

Use minimal ingredients to bring out the mild flavor of bok choy (Courtesy of Not Just Baked)

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.

 

Amazing Arugula is Super Healthy and Easy to Grow

Among the many members of the cabbage family that I have tried planting, Arugula (also called Salad Rocket or Rucola) is the absolute winner in terms of ease of growing and resistance to pests. And I was pleasantly surprised to find out how good it is for your health, packing as much nutrients as its close relatives broccoli, brussels sprouts, and kale.

This is very good news, as our very warm climate here in the Philippines (except in the highlands) does not allow successful growth of those other leafy greens. When I sowed seeds of Arugula months ago, I didn’t really have high expectations because of two main reasons: 1) It sounded very exotic to me, and is not very popular in the Philippine market, and 2) I just lost a difficult organic war with insect pests that targeted members of the cabbage family.

But surprise, surprise… Arugula was the only man (or vegetable) left standing after that great battle. I didn’t even have to fight the pesky cabbage worms — Arugula did it all by itself! The variety I planted seemed to be resistant to those caterpillars. What a treat!

And your body will definitely be treated to loads of good stuff when you consume this salad green, which has a flavor that some have described as spicy or nutty. One of the main natural components found in Arugula and other cruciferous plants are glucosinolates. These sulfur-containing organic compounds give cabbage and mustard their pungent smell and taste. Several research studies have shown certain anti-cancer properties of glucosinolates. Scientific studies on these compounds in Arugula have also demonstrated that they have antidiabetic, antioxidant, and anti-ulcer properties. What a great and yummy way to be healthy!

I really recommend planting Arugula in your home gardens, as it takes the utmost minimum effort to grow. It does well even in small containers. All it needs is a sunny spot and a little bit of watering. It’s very low-maintenance, it grows well in the tropics, it’s better at tolerating wilt than a lot of other leafy greens, and it has very good defenses against common garden pests. Try planting it, and do let me know about your gardening adventures. 🙂