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Veggie Tales • Battle of the Bok Choy

My original goal in creating this blog was not solely to photograph or document my travels. I hoped it would become my own little corner of the internet where I could share my different hobbies and document my growth.


I've been waiting (im)patiently for months to compose this post and share it, but it took awhile because plants take time to grow and document. It is fitting that I'm sharing my first gardening blog in April, aperire in Latin, meaning to open, uncover, and awaken. An homage to spring, to new beginnings ♡


Two side by side planters next to a pomegranate and lemon tree
 

I've always wanted a farm — chickens, vegetable garden, citrus orchard, a cute little fruit stand on the side of the road — ya know, the whole nine yards. My inspiration came from growing up in Oxnard in the 90s when it was still mostly strawberry fields and orchards. When I moved to LA in 2016, that dream almost seemed impossible in a high-rise apartment surrounded by a concrete jungle. I decided to start a garden indoors anyway and strategically toured apartments with huge south-facing windows for optimal sunshine.


My garden adventures summarized:

Pre-2020: I had store-bought herbs and, through trial and error, learned to prune them properly

2020: I successfully grew my first indoor tomato plant from seed (harvested five cherry tomatoes per month lol)

2021: Mama & Papa gifted me an indoor hydroponic system. I relished having herbs and tomatoes during the winter

2022: Mama & Papa gifted me a raised planter and took my garden outside to my DTLA patio ˙ᵕ˙


In 2023, I bought a second raised planter to house my pepper plants & that summer was a prosperous season of peppers and herbs. I started experimenting at the end of summer to kickstart a vegetable garden for the autumn and winter seasons. I germinated seeds with my hydroponic system and then transferred the seedlings outside. I wanted to start with a vegetable that is already a staple in my household - bok choy. The best thing I learned about growing bok choy is that it germinates quickly and is resistant to the chill of winter. Even though it is categorized as a winter crop, my harvest has extended well into spring 2024.


Bok choy pkanted in raised planters. Lettuce garden in the back.

Honestly, my first choice variety of bok choy was not my favorite. I wasn't too fond of how leggy the white-stemmed variety was. I always had to chop it down for stir-fry and soup. Having limited garden space also meant I needed a variety that didn't take up too much room. You can see the size differences in the planter—the white-stemmed variety (about six plants) is planted at the top versus the Shanghai variety (about 12 plants) at the bottom.


I researched a little more and bought a seed packet of Shanghai bok choy, the variety commonly seen at the grocery store. It is known for its cute spoon-shaped leaves and light green stems. (Shanghai, left. White stem, right)



The taste profiles of the two varieties are similar. They taste like cabbage — mild and fresh, with a slight peppery kick. The stems of the White make a good celery substitute and hold their crunch when in soup. The leaves of the Shanghai variety are less bitter and softer than the White. I love using the Shanghai for stir fry or on its own with garlic.



I just wanted to add some film shots for fun ☺ My sister bought me a new camera so that I couldn't resist.



Between germination, planting, and waiting - harvesting my crops has always been my favorite part of gardening.

Check out the veggie bouquets I'd harvest for my sister every week (below right)


I'm looking forward to future blog posts documenting my urban garden. I learn new things with each passing season, and it's been fulfilling to share my crops with my family and friends.



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