|Today's harvest when I thinned Chinese cabbage patch|
So when someone suggested I try growing Chinese cabbage, I was eager for something different. And different it is. The seeds sprouted very quickly and the seedlings are plentiful. This April I'm planting a new batch of seeds to ensure a succession of harvests.
How to grow Chinese Cabbage
Where: Chinese cabbage likes the kind of soil that keeps/retains water in a sunny area, though your summer crops would prefer a shady area to prevent bolting. The soil in my garden, which is red clay, was previously fed with homemade compost and cow manure.
Online research says you should lime your soil if it's acidic. This is to prevent clubroot disease, a fungal organis.
Planting process: I generally plant directly into the soil but I expect the space and depth of soil requirement is similar for your seeds whether you plant in the soil or container.
The only difference kicks in when once your seedlings are starting to grow, then the rules for container gardening kick in (e.g. water more often, move container to shade if it's too hot, make sure plant has room to grow a head etc). Anyhoo, make sure your seeds be around 13mm (0.5in) deep in rows 38cm (15in) apart.
|Intentionally planted too tight, so I'm thinning it.|
Like all other brassicas, Chinese cabbage is prone to bolting when exposed to too much heat. So water it well before a dry spell or the onset of drought to keep the soil moist.
Harvesting: This morning I went into the garden to thin one of my beds, which I'd planted very densely. Some of the seedlings are being transplanted into beds where they will have the space to grow big heads. Some will be grown into salads leaves. The rest I'm giving to my sisters (and inlaws) and friends as gifts, to keep near their own kitchens.
I decided to use some of the leaves I thinned from the garden to make stuffed cabbage wraps for lunch today. I was inspired by these Asian Stuffed Napa Cabbage Rolls from Aggie's kitchen except, I didn't want to cook fresh as I had leftover mince and rice to kill.
I mixed the two, chopped some more onions, green pepper and chives from the garden into the mix and added paprika for a smoky flavour. Then I spooned it onto a big leaf, wrapped it over and held it together with a toothpick.
I used more leaves to wrap the mix where they were small, put them in a baking dish, sprinkled a bit of salt, black pepper and some olive oil, covered with a foil and put in a 150 degrees Celcius (302 F) oven for 30 minutes. The idea is that they slowly simmer, not cook quickly. We had a bunch of these wraps served with freshly chopped tomatoes and cucumbers for lunch.
You can get creative with whatever leftovers you have in your fridge, but try to make sure you have something starchy to hold your veges and meats together. Or you could chop up some meats and veges, stirfry them just like you usually do and then wrap them. I love chilli, so sometimes I sprinkle my own dish with chopped chilli from garden.
The meal works regardless of the size of your cabbage leaves. Some people prefer to blanch mature leaves before wrapping them, but I've never found that necessary, so use your taste and texture preferences to decide when making the dish.