Pac Choi is a cool-weather plant that prefers temperatures ranging from 45° to 75°F. Warmer temperatures may cause your plant to bolt and go to seed quickly. Pak Choi prefers well-drained, fertile soil and full sun to part shade. Where summers are hot partial shade can help crops from bolting. Keep plants consistently well-watered throughout the growing period to avoid bolting and lack of flavor.
Start transplants inside 4 to 6 weeks before last frost date. When seedlings are at least 2” tall transplant outside 6-12” inches apart in rows 18-30” apart after all danger of frost is past. Use closer spacing for smaller varieties. Keep the newly transplanted plants watered well to help prevent bolting. Consider covering your pak choi with horticultural fleece to provide a barrier to airborne pests, such as flea beetles.
For spring crops, while not as sensitive to heat and cold as Chinese cabbage, spring crops may bolt prematurely if young plants are exposed to frost or a week of nighttime temperatures below 50 F. Wait until after last frost date to transplant outside.
For fall crops, set transplants out at 6-12” spacing 4 – 6 weeks before first frost. Heavily mulch fall crops and provide adequate moisture to avoid premature bolting.
You can harvest the young leaves after 30 days. Use them in salads. After 45 days, the plants will have developed a ‘heart’ and be ready to harvest for stir fries. Pak choi is most succulent and has the best flavor when eaten fresh from the garden, so only harvest what you need, when you need it.
Pak Choi brassica rapa subsp. chinensis
Broad, flat, light green stalks. Oval
dark green leaves. 10-12″. Slow to bolt.
Harvest 45 days.
Broad, heavy plant with dark green leaves and
thick, flat stems. 12-15″ Tolerant to heat and
cold. Harvest 50 days.
Dark green leaves with maroon veins. Green
undersides and thin green stems. Excellent
used as micro greens. 8-10″ Harvest 45 days.
Thick, white stems. Glossy, dark green leaves. Tolerates
warm weather better than other varieties. 5″ ideal for
growing in containers. Harvest 35 days.
Pak Choi culture –
Pak Choi is also known as Chinese cabbage, bok choy, horse’s ear, and white mustard cabbage. Pak Choi looks like a short type of celery with its chunky white or pale green short stalks and deep green, glossy leaves. Most varieties are between 1-2 feet tall with a spread of 1-1 ½ feet.
Both leaves and stalks are crisp with a flavor a cross between spinach and mild cabbage. If picked young it can be eaten raw in salads, but is best when briefly cooked. Pak choi can be used in salads or stir-fries as a baby leaf, or used in a variety of Oriental dishes as a cooked vegetable.
To prepare, wash thoroughly. Consider cutting the leaves from the stems if preparing for cooking as they cook at different speeds. Add the leaves towards the end of your cooking time. Young Pak Choi can be left whole , halved or quartered.
To cook – the preferred method is to stir fry for 2 minutes; alternatively it can be steamed 2-3 minutes if sliced; or whole up to 8 minutes.
Pak Choi will keep in the vegetable compartment of the refrigerator for 3-7 days if stored in a perforated bag. Alternatively, consider blanching and then freezing which will increase the storage time to about 3 to 4 months.
To freeze whole: trim roots and quarter the heads lengthways. To freeze smaller leaves: wash under cold water and pat dry on paper towels. Rough chop into similar sized pieces. Blanch either in boiling water for 2 minutes. Drain and plunge immediately in a bowl of iced water to cool. Drain and pat dry. Package in air-tight containers or baggies. Label and store in freezer compartment.