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.

 

Poor Man’s Pesto Made from Basil We Planted from Seeds

We reaped what we sowed, and our pesto cravings have been satisfied.

Those who follow me on Instagram will remember this post from roughly two months ago:

I’m happy to say that the basil plants are now all grown, and although they suffered from an attack of lace bugs (at least that’s what I guess the little pests are), we still harvested enough herbs to make pesto sauce for the entire family.

The traditional pesto recipe calls for pine nuts, but I’m a believer in cooking the “Cham-cham” way sometimes, especially when it comes to pasta sauce (chamba-chamba, tsamba-tsamba, or chance-chance, meaning you cook by relying on luck to produce something that’s good, hehe), so even with a lack of nuts, we proceeded with our pesto project.

Our poor man’s pesto sauce consisted of four ingredients:

  • Basil leaves (chopped as finely as you are capable)
  • Extra virgin olive oil
  • Fresh garlic cloves (grated)
  • Parmesan cheese (grated)

I’m not even providing the amounts of each ingredient we used, because the Cham-cham school of cooking stresses that you use all ingredients according to your preference, and not to any other person’s rules. At any rate, I am of the opinion that you can never use too much basil, or olive oil, or even garlic and Parmesan cheese for that matter.

For the sake of those who don’t like too much garlic though (but why, for the life of me, I’ll never understand), you might want to hold back a bit on the garlic. My estimate is half a clove of fresh garlic per person (although personally, I want at least 2 cloves for myself, haha). But like I said, do it according to preference!

Just mix everything in a bowl, and use on any cooked pasta that you like. We had fusilli, and it was perfect because the grooves in the pieces were superb for lodging the roughly chopped leaves. If you have a food processor, by all means use it!

I suggest serving with hot sauce or chili flakes, or for those who are non-vegetarians, you can top with a little bit of Spanish-style sardines.

Bon appetit!