Brassica rapa (Pekinensis and Chinensis groups)
Chinese cabbage, including varieties like bok choy and napa cabbage, is a cool-season vegetable that prefers full sun and well-drained, fertile soil with a pH of 6.0-7.5. It's less tolerant of heat than other cabbage types and can bolt (go to seed) if exposed to extended periods of high temperatures or fluctuating weather conditions.
For a spring harvest, start seeds indoors about 4-6 weeks before the last frost date and transplant them outdoors when they're strong enough. For a fall harvest, direct sow or transplant seedlings in mid to late summer.
When transplanting, space plants 12-18 inches apart in rows 18-24 inches apart. If direct sowing, thin seedlings to the same spacing once they have a few true leaves. Keep the soil consistently moist and mulch to retain moisture and suppress weeds.
For more detailed information on growing Chinese cabbage, including specific care and variety recommendations, refer to our comprehensive Chinese cabbage grow guide.
Diseases, Insects, and Weeds
Chinese cabbage is susceptible to pests like aphids, cabbage worms, and flea beetles. Use row covers for protection and apply organic or chemical controls as necessary. Diseases like clubroot and downy mildew can be mitigated with good spacing, crop rotation, and proper watering practices.
Harvest Chinese cabbage when the heads are firm and before they split, usually about 70-90 days after planting. Cut the head at the base with a sharp knife. For non-heading types like bok choy, you can harvest leaves as needed or the entire plant when mature.
Storage and Preservation
Chinese cabbage can be stored in the refrigerator for a few weeks. It's also excellent for pickling, fermenting (as in kimchi), or can be blanched and frozen for later use in cooked dishes.