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Growing Chinese Cabbage (Napa Cabbage and Bok Choy) | North American Farmer

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Growing Chinese Cabbage

Subspecies: Brassica rapa var. pekinensis

Growing Chinese cabbageChinese cabbage is a leafy vegetable that grows well in cool temperatures. It does best when planted as a fall crop.

Napa cabbage and Bok Choy are two names often used for Chinese cabbage. The cabbages grown today are essentially the same varieties grown as early as the 1300s.

Cabbages have high amounts of vitamins A and C, but should generally not be regularly consumed in abundance because some people become nauseated after eating large amounts. For moderation, read on for our full guide on how to grow Chinese cabbage in your own garden.

Cultivation:

Chinese cabbage seeds do best when planted directly in the ground.  Soil needs to be around 50° -80°F for adequate germination to occur within 4 -7 days.

When growing Chinese cabbage, do not plant seeds until after last frost; exposure to freezing temperatures may cause plants to go to seed. Seeds should be planted in the ground at a depth of ¼ – ½ inch.

If transplants are going to be used the seeds should be planted inside, 8 weeks before last frost.

Transplants and seedlings should be thinned to a distance of 18 – 30 inches between plants. There should be 12 – 18 inches between cabbage rows.

Varieties:

Rubicon is a variety known for its disease resistance and for slow bolting. Rubicon has heads that grow to 5 pounds. The heads are sweet and juicy and have deep green leaves. The hearts are a pale yellow and have a more peppery flavor than the outer leaves.

Minuet is the best of the miniature varieties. Heads are 7 inches and have dark green outer leaves and a yellow heart. They are a sweet and flavorful addition to stir fry dishes.

For a high yield, Minuet plants should be spaced at 12 inches.

Pests:

Remove Cabbage worms manually and destroy them. Using row covers made of netting or tightly woven cheesecloth will help protect the plants from Cabbage worm damage.

A direct and steady spray of water will displace aphids from the plants. This should be done before the sun is directly overhead so plants will not be scorched.

If Cabbage Root Maggots are present the plants will show wilting and may eventually die. Plants should be cleaned and transplanted.

Remove Cabbage worms manually and destroy them. Using row covers made of netting or tightly woven cheesecloth will help protect the plants from Cabbage worm damage. Row covers need to be removed from the plant rows once summer temperatures are consistently above 78°F.

Diatomaceous earth can be used to control flea beetles.

Cutworms can be controlled by placing cardboard tubes or ‘collars’ around the base of each plant.

Home Storage:

Chinese cabbage can be stored for up to 3 months in the refrigerator if a cup of water is placed in the crisper drawer with the cabbage.  Outer leaves should be removed before storing cabbage. They need moving air, and can be kept in crates in a root cellar or other cool dark building if they are protected and kept away from the ground.

If temperatures rise above 45°F the cabbage will not keep well and should be used immediately.