The standard Pak Choi (sometimes known as Bok Choy) is juicy, crisp and fast-maturing with a really good, strong flavour, good resistance to bolting and fast growth. A welcome green leaf in any winter kitchen garden.
The green-stemmed cultivars tend to have a better flavour than white-stemmed varieties. They can also be eaten raw, stir fried or lightly steamed and served with soy sauce.
Soil and Aspect
Grow Pak Choi in full sun or part shade in well-drained but moisture retentive soil rich in organic matter. Add compost to beds before planting and mulch with compost again at mid season to help with moisture retention.
Sowing Pak Choi
Pak choi is a versatile plant that can be cultivated as a cut-and-come-again crop - ready to harvest in as little as 30 days - or harvested as a mature plant.
It is best sown before or after the hottest part of the year, either around April, just after the last frost date in your area or in August for a late-season crop.
Cut and come again seedlings can be sown any time from April if you use bolt-resistant varieties and offer some shade in the hottest weather - Easy Net Tunnels will help reduce bolting.
Sow seeds in situ as soon as the soil is workable (early crops should be sown under cloches) and continue sowing until late summer.
Space 15cm apart for small varieties, 20cm apart for medium-size and 35cm apart for large.
Pak choi has shallow roots so needs watering little and often in dry spells rather than drenching.
A nitrogen rich liquid feed will help produce a bumper crop and shade from Easy Net Tunnels will prevent bolting.
Harvesting and storage
Depending on conditions, this could be within three weeks of sowing and two or three cuts should be possible. A headed crop (ready after around six weeks) can be lifted entirely. Alternatively, you can cut 2.5cm above ground level and leave to re-sprout.
Less likely to go limp than lettuce, Pak Choi is best kept cool and eaten within a week.
Pest and Diseases
Pak Choi is susceptible to all of the brassica problems. Flea beetle, aphids, cabbage whitefly, caterpillars, root fly, slugs, snails and birds.
But don't be put off! As it is so fast growing, it is perfectly possible to avoid most issues with some protective netting and regular watering. This will keep the plants in top condition.
Companion planting with Onions or Garlic can be very effective. A row of sacrificial radishes is also good to draw the flee beetle away!