How to Grow Organic Pac Choi - Grow Organic Pac Choi in your Vegetable Garden
If you're looking for a nutritious vegetable that is quick and easy to grow and to cook, Pac Choi is a great choice. Pac Choi is a plant that is in the cabbage (brassicacea) family. It originated in China, where it has been grown for over 1500 years. It was introduced into the US during the late 19th century by Chinese immigrants. Since then, it has gained popularity, though in most areas of the country, it is still considered somewhat exotic.
Pac Choi has a mild flavor. The leaves taste similar to Swiss chard and the stems (called ribs) are deliciously crispy and can be substituted for celery in recipes. Since pac choi is very perishable, it is an ideal plant to grow in your garden so that you can have a fresh and ready supply of it. It will last a couple of days in your refrigerator, should be stored in a perforated plastic bag in the vegetable compartment and shouldn't be washed or rinsed until you are about to cook it.
Varieties of Pac Choi
There are many varieties of pac choi with different maturity dates, sizes, color variations and abilities to tolerate heat and cold. In general, pac choi takes from 45 to 60 days to mature but is often perfectly formed and can be eaten as baby pac choi well before it is fully mature. Organic pac choi seeds are available from Fedco seed Co-op and Seeds of Change.
In areas of the country with hot summers and cold winters, pac choi does best as a spring and fall crop. It prefers cool nights and daytime temperatures around 75F.
Pac choi is prone to bolting (going to seed prematurely) if it doesn't like the weather conditions. Some varieties, such as Joi Choi and Mei Qing Choi are bolt resistant or slow-bolting.
Pac Choi pests
Pac Choi is relatively easy to grow and can be either direct seeded or transplanted. It is attractive to insect pests such as cabbage moths. These moths can be treated organically by using a Bt spray. This spray contains a bacteria that is harmless to humans but lethal to caterpillars. The bacteria are harmless to insects other than caterpillars.
Floating Row Cover are also an effective solution to prevent cabbage moths from laying their eggs on your Pac Choi cabbage. The row cover has an added benefit of allowing the Pac Choi to endure colder temperatures than it normally would, so you can extend your season further into the winter.
Harvesting Pac Choi
When harvesting pac choi, cut the whole plant off at ground level. Pac choi can be eaten raw, cooked or marinated. Some people prefer to cook the stems and the leaves separately. Pac choi is an excellent source of potassium, vitamin A, vitamin C, folic acid, calcium and iron. It's delicate flavor and satisfying crunchiness make pac choi a great choice for those looking for a healthy treat. Since it is much milder in flavor than cabbage or mustard greens, it is a leafy vegetable that will be appreciated by people who don t usually like greens.
RECIPE FOR PAC CHOI STIR-FRY
- 2 bunches pac choi 5 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 pound COOKED cubed tofu, chicken, beef or pork
- 1 pinch of salt
- 1 cup vegetable, chicken or beef stock
- 1 tbs. cornstarch mixed w/ 1 tbs. water
- 2 tbs. soy sauce
- 1 tbs. chili paste
- 1 tbs. toasted sesame oil
1. Cut pac choi leaves into 3 pieces, cut stems into 2 pieces. Wash well. Mix stock, soy sauce and chili paste.
2. Heat a nonstick skillet, add and heat oil then add garlic and pac choi. Sprinkle with salt and stir-fry over high heat for a few minutes until the greens are wilted. Add the stock, reduce heat to low, then add cooked meat or tofu. Cover and heat until meat or tofu are heated through.
3. Add cornstarch mixture and stir. Cook until thickened.
4. Serve over noodles (try udon or soba noodles) or rice.
For More Information
A Guide to Using Floating Row Covers in Your Organic Vegetable Garden
Give Rye A Try! How to Use a Rye Cover Crop to Improve Your Garden's Soil
How to Grow Shitake Mushrooms in Your Back Yard
How to Attract Helpful Birds to Your Organic Vegetable Garden.
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