Recent rains have been ideal for one of the fastest growing greens in the garden: bok choy and its many variants. Quick to bolt (set seed) in hotter temperatures, bok choy (Brassica rapa) flourishes under drizzly skies, doing just fine in the shady part of the garden where nothing ever seems to grow.
Originally from Southeast Asia, bok choy is a cut-and-come-again plant, able to deliver waves of harvests. The youngest leaves are the best. Depending on the variety, they are ready to eat after 20 to 50 days. Bok choy may be steamed, stir-fried, boiled or eaten raw. It’s sweet and slightly crunchy and has more body than spinach, for which it can serve as a substitute.
A wonderful variety of plants is available as seeds. Kitazawa Seed Co. has 20 types, from dwarfs to giants, in a rainbow of hues: purple, red, gold, green and white. The leaves can be frilly, flat, spoon-shaped, with a taste that ranges from subtle to sharp, sweet to mustard-flavored.
Phyllis Hauser, a gardener at Manzanita Street Community Garden in Silver Lake, said she loves eating bok choy.
“I wondered what it was like to be able to pick it and eat it right away,” she said.