Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Bok Choy Surprising Simple Living Success

Early this spring, I planted my first ever patch of Bok Choy. It was a pleasant surprise from the beginning. First it responded very well to some simple care and very little of the kind of pampering lettuce requires here in Central Florida. The plants grew well and did not seem to mind a little neglect now and again. The soil I planted them in is not near as rich as that in the flower beds. Very little organic matter in it so far. I have never seen earthworms in the vegetable garden and that is the ultimate sign of soil health to me.

Other plants have rebelled at the poor conditions which also include very little good sunlight. The vegetables are crammed into a small garden on the east side of the garage. A giant oak shade them in the morning and the garage blocks late afternoon sun. Still the bok choy prospered.

With the summer heat approaching I should have began harvested a week or two ago. I meant to, but the side of the perfectly symmetrical heads of light green leaves was just too pleasing. Salad greens are a hard thing to grow in our subtropical heat. So far the bok choy is exceeding the performance of the Swiss Chard and it supposed to take heat far better. Well, today I had to quit admiring and start eating. One head bolted this weekend and that is a sign the greens are getting bitter.

I harvested 3 heads late this afternoon. They were crisp and clean and I loved the sight of them in my harvesting tub. I use a galvanized washtub to harvest it. My Nanny always used one and it makes me feel good and proper to use one of my own. Plastic would be easier but just all too wrong. Hauling the greens and a few radishes and tomatoes into the back yard I was swelling with pride. I brought them to the tiny patch of grass that yet remains under the maple. There I spend a lot of time washing and rewashing them. It is amazing how many leaves and dirt can get stuck down between the tight circles of bright bok choy leaves.

After cleaning, I whisked them off to my mom’s where I prepared a nice Chinese salad with sesame ginger dressing. I dressed them with small strips of chicken breast dredged in flour, finely chopped pecans and 5 spice powder. There was a small disaster with the first batch of chicken do to an uncooperative stove. But the second was bold and crisp and served to make a full meal of the bok choy.

I think they would have been sweeter if I picked them earlier. But I intend to use the remaining heads to make a simple stir fry with sprouts and broccoli and a white sauce. I am going for a moo goo gai pan type of thing. Hopefully it will work, but in any case bok choy has proven to be a simple living winner and will be a new staple in the home gardens of Shadows End.

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