Pak Choi, Bok Choi, Joy Choi, Buk Choy or Chinese Cabbage – whatever you prefer to call it, this vegetable is popular for stir fry, noodle soups, and other Asian recipes. It is also a renewable crop, meaning that you can harvest from the same plant multiple times. For the small indoor garden, this gives you more efficient use of space and energy. Recently dwarf or baby varieties of Pak Choi have arrived on the scene, and everyone loves them. You can certainly grow the single serving size version in your grow room, but if it’s a small space you’ll get more food to eat sticking with the standard size version.
Cabbage is a cool season plant, and like lettuce, Brassica rapa plants quickly go to seed in temperatures over 70F. The best companion plants in your indoor garden will be lettuces, cilantro, tatsoi and other crops that thrive in the spring or fall garden outdoors.
You can grow Pak Choi in traditional containers, using hydroponic methods NFT, drip or deep water culture, and also aquaculture. It’s a fast growing crop, and you should be able to enjoy your first harvest in about 4 weeks from germination. The hydroponic nutrient solution that this plant does best in has pH of 5.5-6.5, PPM 1050-1400, and an EC range of 1.5-2.0. Growers in Singapore have found that EC 2.0 (CF of 20) delivers the most rapid growth for lettuces and Chinese Cabbage. Don’t let the pH drop below 5 or go above 7, or your crop will have nutrient deficiencies.
In warmer climates, this is grown as a winter crop, which makes it a great candidate for doing well under T5 lights like so many leafy plants you can grow in an indoor garden. Since you don’t want it to flower there is no need to switch tubes to finish off Pak Choi. They need a minimum of 7 hours of sun a day and don’t like the long day length or intense light of summer. Too much light stresses this plant.
You can also grow a variety of different Pak Chois. There are green stemmed and red leaf variations, along with a number of types that have the familiar white stem.
Like celery, cutting above the soil line to harvest individual stalks allows the same roots to produce new growth from the center. Pak Choi also has this characteristic and will allow you to harvest 3 times from a single set of mature roots. This usually will give you faster growth on new leaves and stems as the root system is already there that seedlings have to create to support the production of the canopy, though there may be fewer stems to harvest than the first cutting.
This video below is more about lettuce than Pak Choi, but the grower discovered that they are more robust with drip than NFT.