Growing Chinese Cabbage – Brassica Chinensis

Growing Chinese Cabbage - Brassica Chinensis
by Paul Valance

Mealy bugs are sometimes to be seen on many different kinds of plants, recognizable by the white, waxy wool in which they hide. They are difficult to remove but must not be allowed to remain on the plants, for they secrete some sort of honeydew which becomes attacked by a fungus. Scrape them off as well as possible with a matchstick dipped in white oil (Volck) solution and then spray the plant with a systemic insecticide. Mealy bugs sometimes get into the most impenetrable places on cacti, where they are almost impossible to remove by hand.

Tolerant to a wide range of soil conditions, including pH, although excessively well-drained soils are unsuitable for this crop which matures rapidly. Normally grown at elevations up to 1500 m although the leaves are liable to damage by winds in exposed situations. Withstands periods of relatively high rainfall but requires full exposure to sun for optimum development. Flowering is reduced under high temperature conditions but relatively low temperatures of less than 16C promote precocious flower production. A diurnal variation of 5-6C appears to increase the vigour of the plant and an optimum temperature range is 15-20C. High yielding, firm-headed crops of the Pe-tsai type are produced at high elevations during cool weather; at lower elevations heading is less likely to occur.

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Seeds are sown in nursery beds and transplanted to rows 404 cm apart, plants 3040 cm apart in the row. May be sown direct and seedlings thinned to 30-40 cm apart For the Paak-ts’oi non-heading type, 1.5-2 kg seed is required per hectare for transplanted seedlings, to provide a plant population of 200 plants/ha. For the Pe-tsai heading form, 0.6 kg of seed is required to provide a plant population of 60 000 plants/ha. Irrigation is required at regular intervals to maintain a constant rate of growth; mulching assists in conserving soil moisture and reducing weed competition.

These are about the only pests that we are likely to encounter on any of the plants we grow indoors. All are quite easily cleared so long as they are caught in the early stages of infestation. But it should be emphasised again that they tend to breed at a phenomenal rate, so plants should be examined daily and immediate steps to clear any attack should be taken as soon as it is seen.

The most commonly grown Brassicas in tropical areas are: Brassica chinensis L. – Chinese Cabbage, White Cabbage; Brassica juncea (L) Czern & Coss – Indian Mustard, Leaf Mustard; Brassica oleracea L. var. acephala D.C. – Kale, Collard; var. botrytis L. – Cauliflower, Broccoli; var. capitata L. – Cabbage; var. gongylodes L. – Kohlrabi; var. italica Plenck – Sprouting Broccoli; var. rapa L. – Turnip.

The nutritional value of the Brassicas, in general, is high although there is some variation in the nutritional composition of the various crops used as vegetables.

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