Chinese cabbage, also known as Napa cabbage, is a versatile and flavorful vegetable that is easy to grow in a home garden. If you’re new to gardening or just looking for a simple crop to add to your garden, Chinese cabbage is a great choice. In this guide, we’ll cover everything you need to know about planting, caring for, and harvesting this delicious vegetable.
Chinese cabbage is a cool-season crop that is typically grown in the spring or fall. It is a member of the Brassica family, which also includes other popular vegetables like broccoli, cauliflower, and kale. It is an excellent source of vitamins C and K and is also low in calories.
Location and Soil
When planting Chinese cabbage, it’s important to choose a location that receives full sun. The soil should be well-drained and rich in organic matter. If your soil is heavy or clay-like, consider adding compost or other organic matter to improve the soil structure. Chinese leaves is also well-suited to container gardening, making it a great option for those with limited outdoor space.
Sowing and Planting Chinese Cabbage
Chinese cabbage is typically started from seeds. The seeds should be sown in a well-prepared bed, either directly in the ground or in containers. Sow the seeds about 1/4 inch deep and 1 inch apart, then water the bed well. The seeds should germinate within 7-14 days. Thin the seedlings to about 10-12 inches apart once they have two true leaves.
Once the seedlings are established, it’s important to keep the soil consistently moist but not waterlogged. Water the bed regularly, but be sure not to overwater, as this can lead to root rot. Fertilize the bed every 2-3 weeks with a balanced, all-purpose fertilizer to promote healthy growth.
Mixed Culture Partners and Crop Rotation
Chinese cabbage is a great crop to plant in a mixed culture with other vegetables like lettuce, radishes, and carrots. Planting Chinese leaves in rotation with other crops can help to reduce the risk of disease and improve soil health.
Harvesting Chinese Cabbage
Chinese cabbage is typically ready to harvest in 60-80 days after planting. The heads should be firm and solid, with crisp, juicy leaves. To harvest, cut the heads at the base of the stem. If you’re not planning to use the entire head at once, store the remaining heads in a cool, dry place until you’re ready to use them.
Storing Chinese Cabbage
Once harvested, it can be stored in the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks. To store, wrap the heads in plastic wrap or place them in a plastic bag. If the heads have started to wilt, place them in a bowl of ice water for a few hours to revive them.
Diseases and Pests
Chinese cabbage is relatively disease-resistant, but it can be susceptible to pests like aphids and caterpillars. To minimize pest damage, avoid planting Chinese leaves in areas where you have recently grown other Brassica crops. Regularly inspect the leaves and stems for signs of pest damage, and treat as needed with an insecticidal soap or neem oil.