Green your plate with Chinese cabbage if you enjoy the crisp taste of lettuce but are looking for something with a little more zip. This multipurpose green is as tasty enjoyed fresh in salads as it is boiled or steamed, stir-fried, or shredded for slaw.
It is easy to grow in spring. When it comes to growing conditions and weather preferences, Chinese cabbage is no different from the rest of the clan. It likes mild weather; rich, well-drained soil; lots of good food; and an even supply of water (and plenty of it).
Chinese cabbage will grow well with exposure to lots of sun, but it does tolerate partial shade. It will grow almost anywhere except in extreme heat – which tends to make it bolt. The cabbage also needs shelter from wind and frost.
Chinese cabbage is milder and more tender than some of its cabbage counterparts. And, it has a delicate flavor. You may know this vegetable by many different names, including celery cabbage, pak choi and wong bok. Depending upon which variety you select, the cabbage heads grow either loosely formed or compact.
This plant will normally grow to around 8” tall. The flavor is a bit like lettuce and can range in taste from sweet to a tangy mustard-like one. The Chinese cabbage stems can be eaten raw like celery, or cooked like asparagus.
Chinese cabbages don’t like to have their roots disturbed, and they get stressed out easily in weather that’s not to their liking.
To avoid a plant anxiety attack, and to give them the temperature range they like best, I give them plenty of room to roam. Depending on the variety, I allow 1 to 2 feet between plants.
* Choosing Chinese Cabbages
—Napa or barrel types have broad, light green leaves that form heads only a little taller than they are wide.
—Michilili kinds grow up to nearly three times taller than they are wide. Their leaves are darker, narrower, and coarser than the Napas.
—Lettuce types, a.k.a. looseleaf or no head, have a white core of inner leaves surrounded by frilly green outer leaves. Most gardeners think they’re the most decorative of the three, and they show up in a lot of ornamental gardens.
The key to gardening this plant is regular watering and fertilizing, to promote rapid growth. If chinese cabbage is allowed to grow too slowly, it will go to seed rather than produce the crop you desire. Chinese cabbage bolts (goes to seed) during dry hot weather.
Because Chinese cabbage is a comparatively quick-growing crop that takes up less space than “regular” cabbage, and will produce more leaves once the first head has been harvested, we can say that it is a good candidate for container growing.
We recommend a wide container that is at least 8 inches deep. Chinese cabbage grown in containers will benefit from frequent additions of compost for feeding and moisture retention purposes, and drip irrigation specifically for containers is recommended. Plants are sensitive to heat so move them into shade when the weather warms.
Companion plants: Cabbage,cauliflower, Brussels sprouts. Do not plant with tomatoes, peppers, , okra, or potatoes.
There are countless uses for Chinese cabbage. A few of the more popular ways to incorporate the vegetable into your menu are listed below:
- Wraps: Large Chinese cabbage leaves are an excellent alternative to a traditional flour or corn tortilla. They are lower in calories and higher in nutrients and provide a colorful, delicious “container” for a variety of fillings. Get creative—these wraps work with a variety of fillings: chicken salad, rice and beans, hummus and veggies, and much more.
- Slaw: Cut the cabbage leaves crosswise into shreds and then toss with green onions, cilantro, salt, pepper, lime juice, and yogurt for a tasty, nutritious coleslaw.
- Stir fry: Shredded Chinese cabbage adds delicious flavor and texture to any stir fry dish.
- Asian chicken salad: Chines cabbage is an excellent base for an Asian chicken salad. Mix cabbage, cucumber, carrots, and chicken with a tangy soy dressing for a delicious meal.
Green your plate with Chinese cabbage and enjoy its great crunch.
Read more about health benefits and recipes with Chinese cabbage here:
Yours truly for a great garden with flowers, berries, and veggies
Polly – Organic Gardener