Growing tatsoi is a must in our family ever since a local gardener sent us some free seeds.
We had never heard of tatsoi and had no idea that the green is also known as tat choy and is a close relative to bok choy.
Bok choy or Chinese white cabbage is of course a staple ingredient in many of our favorite Asian dishes.
And you will be pleased to hear that tatsoi can be eaten both raw and cooked.
Why we grow tatsoi
We use tatsoi in salads as a substitute for lettuce or spinach. Or steam or stir fry your tatsoi into a wonderful Asian influenced dish. One of our favorites is to fry tatsoi greens with garlic to serve with fish or meat.
Tatsoi is also a fast growing plant that produces a healthy harvest.
Plant your seeds in batches throughout the spring and summer to have a constant supply of tatsoi. Our first year we planted too much at once and were unable to make good use of the plentiful harvest.
Pro tip: Tatsoi is prone to bolt (bloom) during the hotter summer months. You can still grow tatsoi but you may want to harvest leaves earlier during this period of time.
But we are getting ahead of ourselves. Let’s back up and focus on growing tatsoi in our garden.
Growing tatsoi the easy and foolproof way
We grow a lot of leafy greens throughout spring and summer. But we never use our garden beds, containers or green houses for our greens.
Instead we plant the tatsoi seeds straight into gardening soil bags.
It is easy, requires basically no maintenance – apart from watering – and actually works for pretty much any vegetable where we do not harvest the root.
1. Preparing the gardening soil bag for tatsoi
You can use any size soil bag from your local gardener. Start by making holes in what will be the bottom of the sack to create drain holes for excess water.
Next we turn the sack around and use a pair of scissors to cut three rows to expose the soil. This is where we will plant our seeds.
The final step of preparation is to water the soil thoroughly. This way we will only have to gently spray our seeds when they are planted.
We want to avoid having to water our newly planted seeds later on. Watering will always risk displacing soil and seeds.
2. Planting the tatsoi seeds
Use your finger or a stick to make a shallow row in the soil. Now plant the seeds evenly. Ideally we keep a distance of approximately 20 centimeters (8 inches) between plants.
I always scatter the seeds evenly trying to maintain a distance of roughly 3 centimeters (1 inch) between seeds. I plant 3-5 seeds per spot.
When your seeds germinate and the first leaves form you will get an indication of whether you will need to thin out the plants later.
And thinning the plants is a delicious task as we get to feast on tender leaves to mix in our green salads.
To spread out the harvest and have tatsoi greens all summer and fall we should only plant one row at a time. We then come back next week or so to repeat the procedure for the next row.
This type of succession planting is especially useful with plants that grow fast and give plentiful harvests.
But you can of course also plant your seeds in all three exposed rows of soil at once.
When the seeds are planted we cover them with a thin layer of soil and then spray the seeds gently.
3. Placing and protecting the soil bag and harvest
When we use a soil bag we don’t have to spend money on fertilizers, soil mixes or pots and containers.
We can place the soil bag wherever we want. Ideally we place the soil bag raised on a surface that will not hold or collect water. We have made drainage holes in the soil bag but it will not help if the bag is placed on a solid material that retains water.
I sometimes place the bag on the ground as I simply have no space. But when we place the soil bag on the ground we unnecessarily expose the harvest to all kinds of insects and potential bugs and pests.
It is always a good idea to use a protective cover to shield the plants for unwanted pests.
4. Water and keep soil moist
As I have promised it is easy to care for the tatsoi plants.
Make sure you keep the soil moist and avoid watering when the plants are exposed to direct sunlight.
5. Harvest the tatsoi greens
You can choose to harvest the leaves continually throughout the season.
The younger leaves are tender and perfect for salads as a substitute for lettuce or spinach. The more mature leaves are perfect for stir fries and cooking.
You can also harvest the entire plant by cutting the planty about 3 centimeters (1 inch) above the ground. If cared for, the remaining plant will set new shoots for you but the plant will usually not grow back to the same size.