Growing Guide
 
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Chinese cabbage

Vegetable (Cool Season) - Cabbage Family

Brassica rapa var. pekinensis
Brassicaceae Family

This cool-season crop combines the flavor of cabbage and the texture of romaine lettuce, but exposing young plants to frost or prolonged temperatures below 50 F may cause them to bolt prematurely. Fall crops are more reliable.

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Site Characteristics
Sunlight:
  • part shade
  • full shade
Partial shade can help prevent summer crops from bolting.

Soil conditions:

  • requires well-drained soil
Prefers well-drained, fertile soil high in organic matter, pH 6.0 to 7.5. Can tolerate slightly alkaline soil. Needs plentiful, consistent moisture.
Plant Traits

Lifecycle: annual

Biennial grown as an annual.

Ease-of-care: moderately difficult

Spring crops require good timing and careful pest control. Direct-seeded fall crops are easier to grow.

Height: 1 to 2 feet

Spread: 1 to 1.5 feet

Foliage color:

  • light green
  • medium green

Usually with white veins and stalks.

Foliage texture: medium

Shape: cushion, mound or clump

Special Considerations
Tolerates:
  • frost - Spring crops may bolt prematurely if young plants are exposed to frost or a week of nighttime temperatures below 50 F. Wait until after last frost date to direct seed or transplant out.
Growing Information
How to plant:

Propagate by seed

Germination temperature: 50 F to 80 F

Days to emergence: 4 to 7

Seed can be saved 4 years.

Maintenance and care:
Spring crops may bolt prematurely if young plants are exposed to frost or a week of nighttime temperatures below 50 F. Wait until after last frost date to direct seed or transplant out.

Start transplants inside 4 to 6 weeks before last frost date. Transplant 12 to 18 inches apart in rows 18 to 30 inches apart. Closer spacings produce smaller, more flavorful heads.

From late spring to midsummer, direct-seed to inch deep in rows 18 to 30 inches apart. Thin to 12- to 18- inch spacings.

Pests:
Cabbage aphids - A hard stream of water can be used to remove aphids from plants. Wash off with water occasionally as needed early in the day. Check for evidence of natural enemies such as gray-brown or bloated parasitized aphids and the presence of alligator-like larvae of lady beetles and lacewings.

Cabbage root maggot - White maggot larvae tunnel in and feed on roots of plants. Damage causes wilting early on, death of plants later on.

Cabbageworms - Handpick and destroy. Row covers may be useful on small plantings to help protect plants from early damage. Put in place at planting and remove before temperatures get too hot in midsummer.

Flea Beetles - Use row covers to help protect plants from early damage. Put in place at planting and remove before temperatures get too hot in midsummer. Control weeds.

Cutworms - Control weeds. Cardboard collars around each plant give good protection.

Other pests:
Cabbage loopers
Slugs
Nematodes

Diseases:
Clubroot - Locate new plants in part of garden different from previous year's location. If soil infested, add lime to raise soil pH to 7.2

Purple blotch (Alternaria porri ) - Avoid wetting foliage if possible. Water early in the day so aboveground plant parts dry as quickly as possible. Avoid crowding plants, allowing air circulation. Eliminate weeds around plants and garden area to increase air circulation. Practice plant sanitation. When plants are not wet, remove and destroy affected plant parts. In autumn rake and destroy all fallen or diseased
leaves and fruit.

Other diseases:
Cabbage yellows
Black rot
Black leg

Varieties
Browse Chinese cabbage varieties at our Vegetable Varieties for Gardeners website.

Look for disease resistance, size and shape of head.

Varieties recommended for New York include:

Blues
Jade Pagoda