Garden School: What You Need to Know About Growing and Enjoying Bok Choy
Student gardener Devine Nwosu shares her know-how with this crunchy, fast-growing Asian green. Keep reading for shopping, growing, and cooking tips.
How to Shop
Stock up by the bunch for stir-fries, soups, crunchy salads, and slaws.
1. KNOW WHERE TO LOOK
You'll find bok choy at supermarkets and farmers' markets, but for the best selection, visit an Asian market. There, you'll find more variety—from tiny thumb-size babies to mature food-long heads.
2. GAUGE FRESHNESS
Seek firm, thick stems with bright green leaves. A telltale sign of freshness is greens that are vibrant and not wilted. These fresh buncles pack a heap of vitamins A and C and many minerals.
3. PICK BOK, PAK, OR PAC
Whether called bok choy, pak choi, or pac choi, seeds and harvests of the Chinese cabbage family of greens are great buys. Size and shape vary, from towering tall stems and Joi Choi to compact, tender stems of Shanghai Green.
How to Grow
Expect fast-growing, cold-tolerant bok choy to show up in your garden when cooler weather hits.
1. PLANT WHEN COOL
A cool-season green in the same family as cabbage, bok choy loves crisp weather, thriving even as temps flirt near freezing. Plant eeds or transplants 6-10 weeks before your area's first expected frost.
2. GIVE PLANTS SOME SPACE
Choose light, nutrient-rich soil. Scratch shallow rows 1/4 inch deep, placing seeds every 3 inches. "Don't just throw seeds in the soil" warns Devine. "Make the hole two times bigger than the seed. Give the plants enough space." Allow 18 inches between rows, as the vase-shaped tops can grown 12-19 inches high.
3. SNACK ON TRIMMINGS
Great for curious classmates, bok choy seedlings are people pleasers that quickly pop up in five to seven days. Enjoy baby bok choy by plucking every other seedling when two to three weeks old, making room for growth. Harvest mature plants by clipping them at the base in 40-50 days.
Sweet-and-Sour Sesame Bok Choy with Pork
Our Asian stir-fry takes full advantage of bok choy's richly verdant leaves and crunchy core.
Grilled Bok Choy "Wedge" with Blue Cheese-Buttermilk Dressing
Bok choy adds a funky edge to our riff on a classic steak house salad, with far deeper flavor than lettuce.
ABOUT OUR PARTNERS School gardens are trending, and we couldn't be happier—they're a great way to expose kids to fresh food and encourage healthier eating. That's why we've partnered with Birmingham, Alabama-based Jones Valley Teaching Farm. Through their Farm Labs at local elementary and middle schools, JVTF staffers engage students in project-based learning centered on fresh vegetables and fruits. The five Farm Lab outposts resonate with kids where computers can't: in the sunshine and in the dirt. Visit jvtf.org to learn more, or go to edibleschoolyard.org for resources in your area.