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Joy to the Choi

June 6, 2013

If kale is the darling green we eat all winter, bok choi with its tender succulent stems and mild mustardy leaves is a welcome sight come spring.  I’m more than happy to leave kale behind this time of year.  But no worries, like most brassicas the flowering stems and flower buds are delicious, and I succession plant bok choi for the entire growing season.

Joi Choi

Joi Choi

We’re just finishing up this first April planting right now.  As we bear down on the Solstice it is showing signs of bolting.

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Here is round two, showing a little signs of flea beetle damage, but nothing that can’t be ignored.  We eat the bok choi mostly for breakfast, lightly sautéed, and served with eggs or maybe a beef sausage patty.   Sometimes it makes it to dinner though in a stir-fry, and the thick stalks are also a good celery (read crunch) substitute in salads.  One thing that makes it an easy sell here is that even though it’s a mustard, it is mild.  Once the heat sets in, the mustards tend to get too strong for our palates, so the hotter mustards move into garnish territory and the bok choi really shines.

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I’m seeding round four today and round three is pictured above just ready for transplanting.   My theory being that I can always find someplace to stick a six-pack or two, if I have it available.  (Urban gardeners, it’s pretty enough to plant in your ornamental beds too.) To make the plantings last, we plant close, and pick individual leaves (much like lettuce or other greens) from each plant.  That process slows down the plant’s efforts to bolt and keeps us in succulent greens for a longer period of time.  Harvesting in this manner is really economical for the home gardener since a packet of 250 seeds is less than $4.00, which is probably about the price of one head of bok choi at the farmers market or grocery store.  Sure, I have my time involved growing the plant but the worst case germination scenario would be 200 plants from the that packet of seeds, so even at $2.00 per head that would be $400.00 worth of bok choi from one seed packet.  Considering that the usual seed life is about 3 years for this type of seed, the price of the original packet of seeds is money well spent.  Who says gardening doesn’t pay?

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12 Comments leave one →
  1. June 6, 2013 9:06 am

    I love all greens, but especially the tender Choi – and especially for breakfast! So green, so pretty, and sooo dee-licious.

  2. June 6, 2013 9:46 am

    I’m a big fan of Pak/Bok Choi too. It’s great in stir fries, asian soups, or just steamed and served as a side. You’re dead on about the savings too.

  3. June 6, 2013 12:29 pm

    Thanks for the great ideas about how to use pak choi. I planted a large bedful of it last year, but the disastrous heat and drought dried it up and it bolted before it grew to maturity, alas. I’m wondering if it’s too late in Nebraska (zone 5) to plant some now in the garden? I think I could find a little space out there. . . still . . .

    • June 6, 2013 1:14 pm

      Amy, hopefully your summer is a little cooler this year! It’s not too late, and it’s a great plant to tuck in near something taller that can shade it and help it stay a little cooler. The hybrid varieties tend to grow faster so any of those are always a good bet.

  4. Linda permalink
    June 6, 2013 7:23 pm

    Hi I live in Australia in the city that has 4 seasons in one day Melbourne love your blog we have a small garden patch at the moment we have planted peas beans carrots silver beat and garlic first time growing garlic fingers crossed have a great weekend 🙂

  5. Racquel permalink
    June 6, 2013 7:50 pm

    thank you so much for this post. I have been trying to find seeds for Bok choy. Maybe I’ve just been spelling it rong:)

  6. JP Swift permalink
    June 7, 2013 4:34 am

    We love bok choi! We also like it grilled. When it is small I cut a whole head split it in half top to bottom brush a little olive oil and grill it on a cooler spot on the grill. Yummy!

  7. June 7, 2013 4:45 am

    So nice to see your expense calculations, along with the gorgeous choi. It was paying four dollars for lettuce a couple of months ago that made me decide to try (again) to grow some greens this year. Lots have sprouted, and I am hoping for lots of greens!

  8. June 7, 2013 7:03 am

    your bounty is amazing! I am quite jealous!!

  9. June 8, 2013 9:09 am

    I don’t know how I made it to my age without ever having eaten any of the “chois,” but this summer has been my first experience with it – and I LOVE it! We are growing tatsoi here at home, and our CSA gave us bok choi last week. So very delicious.

  10. Racquel permalink
    June 17, 2013 7:01 am

    Just tried sauteed Rape’ with my eggs. I don’t know why I never thought of using anything but spinach with eggs.

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