Though I haven’t lost my passion for cooking, instead of new culinary adventures, my mind has recently been all set on gardening (food-related, of course!). “Gardening” sounds maybe too pretentious to describe the plants grown on my small balcony and indoors, but especially at the end of winter and the beginning of spring, it’s so time- and mind-consuming, I almost feel as if I had a real garden. Since most of my plants are edible, I thought some of you might be interested in my limited-space gardening experience.
Today I wanted to share with you a very amusing experiment, similar to the one with garlic chives grown from sprouting cloves (read about it here). After last year’s long and complicated experience with bok choy grown from seeds, I’ve decided to grow it from a bit of stalk. The idea is not mine though; I read about it on many websites, but was quite sceptical… until I tried and it worked! The method is ridiculously easy, lazy, it costs almost nothing (apart from a small portion of potting soil) and you actually use the part of the vegetable you’d throw away anyway! And, like me, you don’t even need a garden! A balcony or a sunny window sill are sufficient. Last but not least, depending on your climate, you can grow bok choy on a balcony in late autumn or early spring, when heat-loving herbs don’t really thrive.
The photograph you see above was taken four days after the stalks were cut off and placed in bowls. Below, one of the bok choys today, after four weeks (already in soil, growing on my balcony):
And here’s a quick reminder of garlic chives grown from sprouted cloves:
TIPS: Bok choy, as well as chives, garlic chives and spring onions are resistant to low temperatures and can be grown on a balcony as soon as night temperatures are above 0°C (32°F).
If the night temperature is still close to 0°C and there are strong winds during the daytime, I advise covering the plants (which were started indoors) with “hoods” made with plastic bubble sheets or special cloches sold in gardening shops. My chives and garlic chives have been growing this way for the past month: the temperatures on my balcony never went under 0°C, even at night.
If you don’t want to spend money on a grow pot (though the most basic plastic ones are really cheap), you can use a big yogurt tub or other plastic food container. You just need to make several holes under it (a heated screwdriver is your friend!) and place it on its cover or a saucer or simply in another tub (without holes).
Many web sources suggest on can easily grow a big bok choy in water only. I’ve noticed that as soon as my bok choy was moved to a pot filled with soil, it started to grow much much quicker. If I try a water-only experiment, I’ll update this post!
potting soil (special soil for indoors/balcony, unless you plan to grow your bok choy in a garden)
one pot per bok choy (12cm/4.7 in diameter should be sufficient)
bok choy stalk’s base (min. 2cm/3/4in high, but don’t waste too much of the stalk! 2cm are enough)
(vegetable fertiliser, it’ll speed up the growth)
Growing method (it should take about 6 weeks):
Cut off the stalk’s base, wash it well to make sure you remove all the bugs (if you buy organic vegetables I bet there’ll be some from time to time!).
Place it in a small bowl filled with water, covering half of its height, preferably on a window sill or any other bright spot indoors.
Change the water every day and cover the whole stalk in water if the stalk absorbs the water quicker (it shouldn’t dry out).
First, you’ll observe tiny leaves growing (as in the first photograph), then, after about a week, small roots will appear.
As soon as the stalk develops roots it should be placed into a pot filled with very moist soil. Simply push it into the soil, so that the roots are completely covered.
Feeding with fertiliser every time you water the bok choy will speed up the growth.
Place the pot on a sunny window sill or on a balcony, if in your region the temperatures at night are above 0°C (32°F) (see the above TIPS). As I’ve mentioned, bok choy (contrary to chillies, for example) can stand low temperatures, as long as it’s not freezing.
I’m planning to cut and eat my bok choy in two weeks (which means six weeks from the moment I placed the stalks’ bases in water).