CABBAGE, Pak Choi, (Brassica oleracea)

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Geography/History:
Pak Choi was introduced to Europe in the 1800’s. It is now readily available in supermarkets throughout North America. Pak Choi is widely popular in the Philippines, where large numbers of Chinese immigrated following Spain’s conquest of the islands in the 1500’s. While Pak Choi is grown in the United States and several Canadian provinces, it remains firmly associated with Chinese cooking. If you mention the word Pak Choi, most of us think of the plant with dark green leaves. However, in Hong Kong over twenty varieties are available. You can also find Shanghai or baby Pak Choi, a miniaturized version of Pak Choi, in Asian markets.

Nutritional Value:
Pak Choi is made up of the same chemicals as broccoli and cauliflower, because it is also a cruciferous vegetable.. It is a delicate leaf-stalk vegetable that is cultivated mainly in China, Korea, Japan, and the USA. The plants grow to about sixteen to twenty inches tall and are ready for harvest just two months after planting. Pak Choi does not form a closed head, and resembles Swiss Chard in appearance and taste. It is a white-stalked cabbage with dark green leaves and, because it does not travel well, it is hardly ever exported by the Asian countries, where it is widely grown. It is now cultivated on an increasing scale in the West. There are three main types of Pak Choi: regular, baby, and Shanghai. All types of Pak Choi can have flowers. Naturally, there is always one that does not fit into any of these categories. Pak Choi is high in Beta carotene and Vitamin C and an excellent source of folate, calcium, iron, magnesium, and potassium. The darker the leaf, the more betacarotene it contains. Beta-carotene is the isomeric form of carotene that is widely distributed in nature and is converted to vitamin A in the body. Bet-carotene is found in dark green and dark yellow fruits and vegetables.

Sun: Full Sun to Light Shade
Spacing: 8”
Height: 12 – 16”
Optimum Soil Ph: 7.0
Days To Maturity: 28 – 50 Days
Sowing Method: Direct Sow

Planting/Growing Tips:

Sowing:
Can be grown all year
Pak Choi is a cool-season crop typically grown in autumn and early winter, though in warmer climates harvest can continue well into winter. It will germinate at temperatures between 13 to 24°C (55 to 70°F).
These green stemmed varieties withstand adverse conditions than white stemmed forms. Some protection is required for winter harvesting. Phasing the sowing will extend the cropping period.
Sow thinly, direct into finely raked, moist, weed free soil 6mm (0.25″) deep in rows 30cm (12″) apart. Thin the resulting seedlings, leaving the strongest, by degrees to a final spacing of 20cm (8″) apart.

Tending:
It is important to water well in dry weather and to keep well weeded. Provide a weak liquid feed once a week.
It needs to be grown quickly and the roots must be kept moist. Checks to growth, brought on by overcrowding or drought, will cause plants to bolt. They are snail magnets, so plants need protection in the open garden.

Harvesting:
Plants reach a stage for ’baby leaf’ harvest in 28 days and mature plants take around 50 days. Chop off enough of the base of the Pak Choi plant before washing so that stalks can be cleaned individually.

Storage:
Pak choi generally keeps well and will stay fresh for more than a week, but should be used in four to five days for best flavor.

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