Cai xin: [Cultivation, Irrigation, Care, Pests and Diseases]

Although its origin is not precisely known, also known as Chinese cabbage , cai xin is a very popular vegetable in Chinese gastronomy and in various cultures of Eurasia, America and other temperate zones.

It has a fresh taste similar to that of cabbage and chard. It can be grown in the garden, in containers, and even indoors.

The xin cai is widely consumed in many dishes. It is low in saturated fat and cholesterol. Besides being a good source of protein, it also contains dietary fiber, thiamine, niacin, phosphorus, as well as vitamins A, C, potassium, and manganese.

Important points when sowing cai xin
  • Scientific name: Brassica rapa subsp. chinensis.
  • Common name: Bok choy, pak choi, cai xin, Chinese cabbage, Chinese cabbage, Chinese chard .
  • Height: 60 centimeters.
  • Need for light: Direct exposure.
  • Temperature: Temperate climates.
  • Irrigation: High.
  • Fertilizer : General fertilizer.

What are the characteristics of cai xin?

The xin cai is a plant annual or biannual green, fast growing. It reaches a height that ranges from 30 to 60 centimeters. It is a type of cabbage with loose leaves, without particles and with thick stems of white or green and tender leaves that are grouped in clusters.

The plants come to form an upright head, with leaves widened to the outside . The white or green stalks are similar to that of celery . However, those of cai xin are smoother and not fibrous.

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The flowers of the xin cai are grouped in clusters of 10 to 30 centimeters long and are concentrated at the apex of the inflorescence. Their sepals are green and their obovate petals are yellow. They bloom during the months of April and May.

Its fruit is a kind of green pod, called silique, which is 2 to 8 centimeters long; each contains up to 18 seeds. On the other hand, the seeds are spherical, with blackish or brown tones, which can measure 2 millimeters in diameter.


When to sow cai xin?

The outdoor sowing period occurs during the months of March, July and August. The main harvest takes place during the months of August, September and October.

It is recommended to wait 2 weeks after the last frost in the region to sow the cai xin . Temperatures above 23ºC can cause leaf burns. Below 10ºC, the plant begins to flower and its leaves stop growing as they normally do.

Where to plant cai xin?

The cai xin germinates in places where the climate is mild and the temperature ranges between 15 and 25 ° C. However, it is well adapted to hot, dry summers with differentiated winters.

It grows in cool, humid, porous and humus- rich soils . It should be planted in full sun or receive at least 3-5 hours of sunlight daily, in places that are protected from the wind.

How to prepare the land?

The xin cai can be grown on flat land, well drained, free of stones and gravel or shallow, with a depth of 45 centimeters. It is recommended to sow it in light textured and sandy loam substrates, in soils composed of 60% sand, 30% silt and 10% clay.

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The optimum pH fluctuates between 5.5 to 6.8, but it can be found in soils with a higher or lower alkalinity or acidity index. If soil modification is needed, it can be prepared by adding well-rotten manure or organic fertilizer that is high in nitrogen, phosphorous, and potassium.

How do we water the cai xin?

The xin cai need much water to grow, as it has shallow roots and it is intolerant of drought.

If the substrate is allowed to dry, the plants will also dry out and become seeds, so it is necessary to monitor the humidity of the growing soil.

Sprinklers, drip tape, or hoses can be used to keep the soil slightly moist, but not soggy.

How often do we water the cai xin?

The soil must be kept uniformly moist, especially while the cai xin seeds germinate. Therefore, these plants should be watered regularly, one inch of water per week, preventing the substrate from drying out between waterings.

A layer of mulch can be added over the cai xin growing area to retain moisture and regulate the temperature of the area.

How to sow a cai xin step by step?

As mentioned above, climate is key to growing cai xin . Here are the steps to grow this plant outdoors.

  1. Start the growing process 4 or 5 weeks before the last frost.
  2. Place the seeds in a container inside, 6 millimeters or one centimeter deep, with almost 3 centimeters of space between each plant .
  3. Wait 4 to 8 days for the seed to germinate.
  4. Transplant the seedlings to the garden and separate them every 30 centimeters from each other when the temperature is above 10 ºC.

If you want to grow cai xin outdoors, you should wait 1 or 2 weeks before the date of the last frost in the region.

What care does the cai xin need?

It is important to remove the weeds so that the plant does not fight with other species for the necessary nutrients. If desired, mulch can be made to give extra protection and care to the crop and soil.

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Covering the cai xin with floating row covers can be useful to scare away some insects that affect the leaves of the plant and thus avoid marks or holes in them.

What pests and diseases affect cai xin?

The xin cai is susceptible to many pests and diseases. In the case of pests, the following are recorded: cabbage caterpillar ( Pieris brassicae and P. rapae ), aphids ( Aphis gossypii and Myzus persicae ), black donut ( Spodoptera littoralis ), ashy aphid ( Brevicorne brassicae ) and the cabbage moth ( Plutella xylostella ).

In the case of diseases, Cai xin has been affected by: downy mildew ( Peronospora parasitica ), bacterial spot ( Pseudomonas syringae ), white mold ( Sclerotinia sclerotiorum ), leaf spot ( Alternaria brassicae and A. brassicicola ) and white rust ( Albugo candida ).

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