If you want to try something new, plant some bok choy! It’s good for you because it offers a plethora of health benefits. Besides, it’s great with many dishes.
Bok choy, also known as Pak choi or white cabbage, is a type of Chinese cabbage though it looks different from other cabbages.
Unlike cabbage, the bok choy plant has a white stem with dark green leaves. Moreover, the taste of it is almost like spinach, but with a mild flavor.
Here’s how to grow pak choi at home.
Growing Pak Choi
Bok choy grows quickly and makes a nice addition to any garden.
This vegetable enjoys cooler weather which makes the ideal time to plant either spring or autumn. If you live in a particularly warm and sunny area, plant your seeds in a shadier spot.
Avoid direct sunlight with bok choy plants. They are particularly susceptible to many plant diseases like black rot or clubfoot. Pests like aphids, worms, and beetles are also part of the challenges of pak choi growing.
Planting in rich soil, either outside or in pots, works best for the plants. If you choose to plant in spring and there is still a chance for a final harsh frost, start the process in a pot.
Additionally, when growing pak choi, be sure to use soil or compost that still retains its moisture. As they grow, thin out the bok choy seedlings so that they can develop into a stronger, robust crop.
To ensure growth and development, the plants require regular watering and ensure that you get rid of weeds around them.
As for harvesting pak choi, the plant is ready as soon as the leaves mature in about 4 to 6 weeks. You can harvest single leaves or uproot the entire plant.
Bok Choy Benefits
You can gain so much from eating this vegetable. Below are some of the top benefits of pak choi.
- Bone health. Bok choy is a great addition to maintaining your bone health.
- Phosphorus, magnesium, and calcium. Within the vegetable, there is a sizable amount of your body’s daily requirement for phosphorus, magnesium, and calcium. Phosphorus forms one of the most common minerals in our teeth and bones while magnesium is the foundation of the internal collagen that supports bone minerals.
- Protects against cancer. This vegetable can also help protect your body from the development of cancer. The risk reduction happens in part because of sulfur-compounds found within the plant that prevent cancer cells from developing, adjust the metabolism to slow hormone-triggered cancers, and even destroy carcinogens altogether.
- Stops cholesterol from forming. Your cholesterol levels can also benefit from adding this vegetable to your diet. It has two types of fiber—soluble and insoluble. Together, the fiber works to stop cholesterol from forming within your digestive system by attaching itself to bile and fat.
- Fiber. The added fiber will help keep your digestive processes functioning at a normal pace. It can also help you take care of one of your most important muscles—your heart.
- Vitamin B6 and folate. This veggie has about 10% of your daily recommendation of vitamin B6 and folate. The calcium and magnesium found in this vegetable also help your heart muscles to relax or contract as is necessary.
How to Prepare
Can you eat pak choi raw? Absolutely! Preparing this healthy veggie is fairly easy to do. If you’d like to try it raw, simply cut it up and add it in with your favorite salad.
It can also be steamed by itself and gets tender in less than ten minutes. It can also be added to soups or stews to add body and sweetness to the dish.
One of the most common ways to use bok choy is in an Asian-style stir-fry with a combination of other vegetables.
Do note that the leaves and stalks have different cooking times, with the leaves cooking faster. Overcooking can cause the stems to become too soft and lose their texture elements in dishes.
Choosing the right pak choi will help you create more flavorful dishes. When shopping, look for ones with white stems that are very firm and have deep green leaves attached.
If you pick it up and the leaves are wilted or limp, the flavor will not be good.
When adding to other flavors, fry or blanch it first so that it doesn’t get lost in the dish. You can also try cooking it in a broth instead of just water to infuse more flavors.
Where to Buy the Seeds
Growing bok choy from seed is easy and the germination rate is fast — usually within 4 to 8 days.
Buying the seeds can be done in multiple ways. Find them at local farm stores or even a home supply store’s garden center.
You can also find inexpensive organic bok choi seeds online at SeedsNow.com.