image by James Nettles/commons.wikimedia.org
Chinese cabbage is a tall, erect cabbage with slender leaves much like a leaf lettuce. Chinese cabbage is a nutritious source of vitamin C that is closely related to cabbage but the flavor is similar to that of lettuce. Chinese cabbage has thick crisp ribs with thin wrinkled leaves. Both the ribs and leaves are good for eating and cooking. It has a mild flavor that is traditionally favored for eating raw in slaw and salads. It can be steamed or stir fried. Chinese cabbage can be grown successfully in the home garden with a little care.
Choose a sunny, open spot with a fertile soil that retains moisture. Add plenty of organic compost to the soil before planting.
Begin planting in the early spring and continue planting in succession through early summer to spread out the harvest. Plant a second crop in the fall. Sow the seeds four inches apart to a depth of 1/2 inch in rows that are at least 10 inches apart. If an early crop is desired, start seeds in individual containers in January, then transplant the seedlings when they are 2 to 3 inches tall, about two to three weeks after the last frost date.
Thin the seedlings to 12 inches apart once they begin to develop. Remove the weaker plants, keeping the strongest.
Water the plants well, especially in hot, dry weather. Mulching with compost will help retain moisture and discourage weeds.
Apply a nitrogen fertilizer when plants are about a month old.
Watch for slugs, snails and cabbage caterpillars as evidenced by large ragged holes in the leaves and stems. If slugs or snails are suspected, water plants in the morning rather than at night and use a spray of equal parts of vinegar and water to controlling them. Mulching the garden with shredded bark or crushed rock will also deter them. Remove any caterpillars, slugs or snails that you see.
If you notice moths fluttering above the plants, cover the row with a row cover or netting to prevent the moths laying eggs on the plants.
Begin harvesting when the heads are well formed and firm. Cut the heads off at the ground leaving the stump in the ground. The stump will sprout new leaves for later harvesting. Harvest before the first frost.
Wrap harvested Chinese cabbage in plastic wrap and store in the refrigerator if not using immediately. Wrapped heads will keep for several weeks.