Sunday, February 25, 2018

Project Bak Choy: grow new leaves from scraps

This post is long overdue. I am starting on a second round of reviving bak choy. So I hope you enjoy this.

Step 1
Buy some healthy looking bak choy from a (Chinese) supermarket. Lop off the leaves about 1½ inches from the bottom. Immerse in little containers like these. If it's terribly cold, I use water that is just warm to the touch. Put them on a window sill or somewhere with lots of light. And warmth where possible.

In the picture above, you can see bak choy in different stages of regeneration. The green leaves traps energy from the sun and soon you will find roots, or root nodules, at the bottom of the stumps. Be patient. It may take more than a week to root. Meanwhile, refresh the water at least once every two days. You will find some bits getting sodden and looking like it's 'rotting'. Remove those bits, clean up the plants under running water and return them to the containers with fresh water.

Step 2
When the roots are visible and clearly thriving, maybe after two to three weeks, pot them in any convenient containers with good drainage. I use indoor compost as it is less likely to result in flies buzzing around the house.

Here I've used plastic containers salvaged from ready meals (prawn laksa or pad thai, usually). I have re-used padding materials ('wozzits') from deliveries to keep pots light and to let the water drain. Make sure that it is the 'wozzits' that do not absorb water. I later learned that the plastic shelf that comes from laksa and pad thai is the perfect thing to ensure good drainage. In which case, return the drainage shelf to the plastic container and only put compost on top of this. The clear plastic lets you see how much water is actually lurking at the bottom. Water as necessary.

Step 3
These plants are quite thirsty. So water as much as necessary. Probably once a day, or maybe even twice a day. You can tell from the waxiness of the leaves as to whether they are in need of a drink. 

Sit back, relax and enjoy the greenery cleaning up your room. I feel energized when working in my 'sun room' as the green leaves throw out lots of oxygen in the day.

I subsequently invested in proper pots so that they fit easily on the window sill. When it gets too hot I move the pots onto the floor. Having one long pot is easier than moving 15 little containers.

Notice how the middle plant is taller than the rest.

Step 4
Start harvesting the leaves when they reach about the same size as when you first brought the original bak choy home. IMPORTANT: DO NOT REMOVE all the leaves from the same plant. You must leave some leaves so that the plant can regenerate again. Take only those healthy leaves for eating (after cooking). Discard those leaves that have browned around the edges.

Continue to look after the plants, giving them lots of water and sunshine. They grow taller and new leaves will sprout higher up the stems.
I think I must have regenerated the same set of bak choy at least six or seven times. Then they started sprouting little yellow flowers.

See how tall they have grown here. I think the leaves started looking less healthy: more leaves than vegetables. But then the flowers came in. Profusely. So I also collected the lot to beautify my room. BE WARNED!! The petals shed very quickly. Put them on a cloth or something that will make it easy to dispose of the shed petals.

That's it, really. From ordinary bak choy I managed to regenerate new growth from scraps that I used to throw away, invested in some compost and got several meals out of them, and then the bonus of these pretty flowers. I scrapped the project when I had to go away last summer because no one else in the house would bother to look after it. 

Try it yourself and tell me how you get on. Share your tips too! It's a bit of fun, but it brings out the nurturing side of us. Trust me!

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