Growing tatsoi has been a must in our family since a local gardener sent us some free seeds.
We had never heard of tatsoi and had no idea that the green, also known as Tat Choy, is a close relative to Bok Choy.
Bok Choy, or Chinese white cabbage, is a staple ingredient in many of our favorite Asian dishes.
And you will be pleased to hear that tatsoi can be eaten raw and cooked.
If you are new to tatsoi, read on, you will not be disappointed.
- Why do we grow tatsoi?
- Growing tatsoi the easy and foolproof way
- Frequently asked questions
Why do 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, early summer and fall to have a regular supply of tatsoi. In our first year, we planted too much at once and could not make good use of the plentiful harvest.
Pro: 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. This also makes tatsoi an ideal candidate for winter sowing.
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 do not always use our garden beds, containers, or greenhouses for our greens.
Instead, we plant the tatsoi seeds straight into gardening soil bags.
It is easy, requires no maintenance – apart from watering – and 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 the bottom of the sack to create drain holes for excess water.
Next, we turn the sack around and use 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 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, 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 harvest the tender leaves to mix in our salads.
To spread the harvest and have tatsoi greens all summer and fall, you can plant one row at a time. You then return the next week or so to repeat the procedure for the next row.
This succession planting is advantageous 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 planted, we cover the seeds with a thin layer of soil and then spray them gently.
3. Placing and protecting the soil bag and harvest
Using a soil bag, we don’t have to spend money on fertilizers, soil mixes, pots, and containers.
We can place the soil bag wherever we want. Ideally, we place the soil bag 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 because I have no space. But keep in mind that placing the soil bag on the ground unnecessarily exposes the harvest to all kinds of insects and potential bugs and pests.
A protective cover to shield the plants from unwanted pests is always a good idea.
4. Water and keep the soil moist
As promised, it is easy to care for the tatsoi plants.
Ensure 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 plant 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.
Frequently asked questions
Is growing tatsoi easy?
Tatsoi is a straightforward plant to start from seed, care for and will thrive in partial shade with only a couple of hours of sun per day.
How long does it take to grow tatsoi?
Tatsoi is a fast grower, and you will have plants to harvest in 6-9 weeks, depending on external factors and conditions.
Can tatsoi grow in the shade?
Tatsoi thrives in partial shade with only a few hours of sun daily.
Avoid full sun as Tatsoi will bolt and die, especially in the height of summer.
How long does it take for tatsoi seeds to germinate?
Tatsoi seeds germinate in as little as 5-8 days.
Will tatsoi regrow after harvest?
If you cut the plant about 3 centimeters (1 inch) above the ground, the plant will set new shoots and regrow.
But I tend to harvest the whole plant and start more seeds instead.
Tatsoi is a fast grower, and as “cut and regrow” gives a diminishing return I prefer to start new seeds for a better yield.