Pac choi (pak choi), also known as Chinese cabbage, is a salad green that is a staple of stir-fry. Pac choi is also related to mustard leaf, broccoli and broccoli rabe and makes a great addition to mesclun salad mixtures. Pac choi is excellent for your health as it is low in calories but high in anti-oxidants, vitamins, minerals and phyto-nutrients. These help reduce bad cholesterol and fight the free radicals that can lead to colon, prostate and breast cancer. Pac choi is an especially good source of vitamins K and C as well as a handful of different B vitamins. The Black Summer variety is a dark-leaved variety with broad leaves that measure approximately a foot. This variety matures in 45 days and has a lower tendency to bolt than other varieties. It is also known for producing nice shapely bouquets of leaves. You can harvest individual leaves or the entire plant before flowering occurs.
Pac choi is best off being sown directly in your garden because it does not like to be disturbed. You can also plant in something like peat pots which can be torn away from the rootball without disturbing them. In the warmer areas of the country, you can sow in the fall. Elsewhere, plant once the danger of strong frost has passed. Work the soil about eight inches deep prior to planting and mix in compost or a 5-10-10 fertilizer. Sow the seeds at a depth of about 1/8”. Keep seedlings well-watered. The plants can be spaced or thinned to a final spacing of about 8” in rows that are 1.5 feet apart. Choose a location in full sun to partial shade. You can plant several crops per year, but your best crops will be when the weather is a bit cooler. It is also recommended to harvest on a cool day if you can to prevent wilting. You can even bring a cooler into the garden for harvesting to maintain maximum crispness.
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