Pak Choi – Power Greens

Pak-Choi

Brassica rapa chinensis, otherwise known as Pak Choi, Bok Choy or Chinese Cabbage has to be one of the best ‘quick grow greens’ to raise in your veggie patch.

 In Australia’s warm climate it tends to grow quite quickly, especially on the east coast where the combination of warm days and nights along with summer rains has the seedlings literally sprouting up overnight to produce crisp and nutritious crops that are a delight steamed or flash cooked in a stir fry.

Pak-Choi

Its best to keep an on-going supply of seedlings to plant out as these brassicas don’t last long at optimum size/condition in your garden before going to seed, especially when the weather is warm.  When you harvest them keep them in the crisper drawer of the fridge but no longer than about three to four days or they’ll go limp.

The stems tend to take a little longer to cook than the green parts of the leaves so boil or steam the stalks first for two to three minutes then toss in the leave for the last two.

Like all brassicas they provide plenty of good dietary fibre to aid digestion and are loaded minerals and vitamins like Thiamin, Niacin, Phosphorus, Vitamin A,  C,  K, Riboflavin, Vitamin B6, Folate, Calcium, Iron, Magnesium, Potassium and Manganese.

But Pak Choi also contains powerful antioxidants and phyto-nutrients which help destroy free radicals to protect cells and reduce inflammation.

All this and its easy to grow – therefore clearly deserves the title of ‘Power Greens’.

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Mulching Vegetables

In planting out the raised veggie beds recently I decided to try some different approaches to see if yields improved.

The most obvious is the addition of mulch and this time I’m trying sugar cane mulch.  This should help maintain soil moisture, keep roots cooler on those hot Sydney summer days and (I like this one the most) keep weeds at bay.  The most depressing thing about being a lazy gardener is watching the weeds stealing the nutrients from your prized crops.  Not only do they yield less, they become more susceptible to disease and pests.

So rather than be a slave to weeds I thought we’d give them less chance this year.  One or two have poked through since but its a lot easier to spot them now.  Overall I’d say the incidence of weeds has decreased markedly already.

Sugar cane mulch on vegetables

Sugar cane mulch on vegetables

Then there’s the leeks – recognising that they’ll need earthing up as they grow, I’ve planted them in a trough with the soil already piled up alongside to earth them up with later.  Essentially this will mean longer and whiter leeks come harvest time.  And I reckon leek soup on a cold winter’s day is pretty damn good.

Those are Pak Choy, by the way on the left of the photo.  If you haven’t tried Chinese vegetables yet then I’d highly recommend them. Quick and easy to grow and a wonderfully fresh, crisp ingredient in stir fry.

They’ve all had regular waterings with Nitrosol which is essentially a sort of liquid blood and bone with a few extra nutrients thrown in.  Excellent at promoting good root growth which is what we want at this point in the growing cycle and also loaded with nitrogen for good leaf growth.

Mulched Tomatoes

Mulched Tomatoes – well spaced out

I’ve also been more careful to give all plants a bit more room. Its easy to crowd them in, wanting to grow as much as possible but in a moist summer climate the threat of fungal attacks are high so lots of room for air to move around is vital.  These tomatoes have plenty of room to breathe so instead of filling the gaps with companion plants like lettuce as I’ve done in previous seasons, this time they are left open.  I’d say that comparatively growth is above average already simply from leaving all the nutrition to the tomatoes.

Author: Bob Saunders (www.gardensonline.com.au)