Having an allotment has introduced me to a load of delicious fruit and veg that I might not have entertained eating before. Pak choi is one such veg, and now I religiously put in a big, long row of the oriental green every summer.
I sow pak choi from mid-July onwards, so now is the perfect time to buy some seeds and get ready to sow.
Fast Growing and Hardy
I reckon this mustardy-smelling vegetable has lots of good things going for it. Not only is it tasty, but you can also eat both the leaves and the crunchy stems too, so it’ll feed you twice. The plants are very fast growing (a full headed plant will often be ready to harvest in six weeks) and like other oriental veg, they’re hardy as well. My late sowings are sometimes still edible come December.
If you’ve got a greenhouse, the plants will last for ages, so try a few undercover too.
At between a fiver and seven quid a kilo, pak choi is a good money-saving choice, especially if you’ve got a few gaps that need filling.
I love it in a stir fry, but it can be steamed like spring greens and the little baby plants can be eaten raw in a salad.
How to Grow It
I wait to plant my pak choi until late July as it isn’t a big fan of the heat, so early sowings can often bolt. Normally, I put one sowing in during July, and one in August. By then the days are getting shorter, and I’ve experienced better results by waiting.
When I’m growing pak choi, I sow into small pots of multi-purpose compost rather than directly into the ground. The seeds are small, and when the ground’s hard breaking through can be tough.
If you do want to sow directly, try covering your row with multipurpose compost rather than the soil you’ve just displaced.
Once they’re about 10 – 15cm high, I plant the pak choi out in rows, 25cm or so apart. Pak choi has only got small roots, so will need regular watering. This also makes them good for growing in containers.
I tend to grow the marvelously named Joi Choi variety, which I’ve found very reliable. China Choi is also a good option, as it is slow to bolt and offers decent frost resistance for those wanting to munch on leafy greens well into winter.