Chinese cabbage (Brassica rapa subsp. Pekinensis) belongs to the large group of cabbage plants. It originally comes from China, where it is said to have originated from a cross between mustard cabbage and a type of beet. The annual vegetable has been grown in Asia for hundreds of years. The plant forms solid, cylindrically shaped heads. They can be up to 60 cm high and weigh 3 kg. The large, oval leaves of the Chinese cabbage have protruding, hard central ribs that overlap at the base of the cabbage. The leaf color varies depending on the variety from dark green to creamy white.

Location and soil conditions

In order to grow into large, closed heads, Chinese cabbage needs a medium-heavy, deep and nutrient-rich soil. The pH should be between 6 and 8. In addition, Chinese cabbage loves sheltered locations.

This cabbage grows best in a temperate climate, where the humidity is consistently high. In contrast to other vegetables, it also thrives very well in cooler weather. It therefore gets along well with a partially shaded spot in the vegetable patch.

Chinese cabbage needs a sophisticated system of crop rotation in order not to completely deplete the garden soil. The hobby gardener should let the beds on which he wants to grow cabbage rest for at least 2 to 3 years before they can be planted with cabbage again.


Chinese cabbage is only grown in the second garb from mid-July. A few, newer varieties can also be sown or transplanted outdoors from the end of April.

The previous crop for Chinese cabbage can be almost any other vegetable. New potatoes are particularly suitable as a predecessor to Chinese cabbage, as they leave a particularly loose soil behind. On the other hand, all other types of cabbage and beets are completely unsuitable as previous crops.

Chinese cabbage can be sown directly in the vegetable patch. The sowing takes place in rows with a distance of 50 cm. From the beginning of July, the seeds of the cabbage can be placed 2 cm deep in the ground. Chinese cabbage is one of the long-day plants. These plants begin to bloom as soon as the day length exceeds 14 hours.

The last sowing date for Chinese cabbage is at the beginning of August. Chinese cabbage that is sown later can no longer develop sufficiently.

The cultivation of Chinese cabbage on the windowsill is also easy. To do this, proceed as follows:

  • Fill pots with a diameter of 10 cm with potting soil
  • Put 2 seeds in each pot approx. 2 cm deep into the soil
  • water well

After germination, let it grow on the windowsill for another four weeks. Alternatively, Chinese cabbage plants, which are pre-grown to plant size, can be purchased from specialist gardeners. When planting in the vegetable patch, care should be taken to ensure that the Chinese cabbage is used with the complete root ball and the soil of the nursery pot. Since Chinese cabbage grows quickly, it needs a distance between plants and rows of at least 40 – 50 cm. If the distance is chosen too small, the cabbages remain small and weak and are also susceptible to pests. Chinese cabbage that is too small cannot be stored.

Care and fertilization

The tender cabbage is sensitive to waterlogging. Therefore, Chinese cabbage should only be poured moderately. However, it is important to water the cabbage regularly, as it develops many leaves in a short time and a lot of water evaporates due to the large leaf surface. Chinese cabbage loves loose soils. Regular chopping encourages the plants to grow evenly.

Chinese cabbage is a heavy eater and requires several fertilizers as it grows. The first dose should be given before planting to prepare the soil. A second application of fertilizer can be made a week after planting or sowing. Further liquid fertilizer applications follow regularly at intervals of 3 weeks.

The soil should be mixed with well-rotted compost before planting the cabbage. A fertilizer with manure is also ideal for heavy consumers. In addition, the Chinese cabbage should be supplied with sufficient lime and nitrogen fertilizer. Nettle manure as top fertilizer after planting also promotes optimal growth and also offers good protection against pests.

Chinese cabbage can be grown well in a mixed culture with French beans, peas, lettuce, spinach and carrots. In practice, however, due to the late cultivation of Chinese cabbage, this late mixed culture is not very effective. At most, the combination with spinach, which can be harvested in August, is practicable.


hernia is a slime mold disease that attacks plants from the ground. The parasitic unicellular organisms attack the roots of the Chinese cabbage. Soil contamination by the fungus can last up to 20 years; therefore the fungus is considered to be the most severe yield-reducing disease in the cultivation of cabbage, rapeseed, mustard, radish and cruciferous plants.

The infected plants show poor growth, wither and eventually wither. On the roots of the diseased plants one finds knot-like thickenings that can easily be confused with the growths of the cabbage gall weevil. Roots affected by clubbed roots are lumpy, swollen, white-fleshed and not hollow.

Control: General control is unfortunately not possible because there are no suitable pesticides. If you still want to grow cabbage on contaminated soil, you can take the following measures:

  • Do not sow young plants directly in the bed, but in seed pots
  • Alternatively, you can resort to earlier plants
  • Leave plants in the pots for as long as possible
  • Plant out with the largest possible root ball

The pH of the soil should be raised to 7 to 7.5 by adding lime.
Fertilize the soil with calcium cyanamide 14 days before planting with Chinese cabbage. A dose of 100 grams of calcium cyanamide per square meter has proven effective. The crop rotation should be extended; An interval of at least five years is recommended. Also choose resistant varieties.


Cabbage gall weevil
The cabbage gall weevil is a small, gray beetle that lays its eggs on the stems of various cabbage plants from April. The galls of the cabbage weevil sit directly on the root neck, so the lateral roots are not affected. The beetle’s galls are hollow and often contain a beetle larva. On closer inspection, this is how they can be easily distinguished from the damage caused by the clubhead. It is not possible to control the beetle, but it is usually not necessary either. Before planting, you should sort out infested plants. Later infestation damages the plants only insignificantly and can be tolerated.

whites Cabbage whites lay their eggs on the underside of the leaves of the Chinese cabbage from April to August. The hatching caterpillars eat their way into the inside of the cabbage, so that the entire cabbage becomes inedible. The only thing that helps against attack by the larvae of the butterfly is to check the cabbages regularly and to remove the eggs consistently.

fleas Ground fleas can occur en masse in severe drought. The damage to the Chinese cabbage plants is enormous. The pests eat holes in the leaves; the larvae also nibble on the roots of the Chinese cabbage. This can damage the plant so much that it will eventually die. Since fleas only occur in dry conditions, it is sufficient as a preventive measure to water the soil sufficiently and to keep it well moist.

The voracious insects can destroy many Chinese cabbage plants in a very short time. However, aphids can be combated successfully and in an environmentally friendly way with nettle manure. The production is very simple:

  • Put fresh nettles in a bucket
  • Fill the Bs up to the edge with water
  • Let it steep for 12 – 25 hours (no longer!)
  • Stir several times during this time
  • Spray the infested plants with the undiluted liquid manure

Raised beds, enclosing the bed with snail fences, collecting or snail trapping have proven effective against voracious slugs. Old home remedies such as coffee grounds, eggshells or cat litter are not very effective.

Harvest, storage, conservation

The tender Chinese cabbage is ready to be harvested after 80 – 90 days. But it can also stay longer on the bed, because it can withstand light frosts of up to – 8 degrees. The harvest season begins in October and continues into November. By covering with thermal fleece, the harvest time can even be extended.

If there is a threat of permanent ground frost, the heads of cabbage and the root balls are taken out of the ground beforehand and they are stored in the cellar in a box filled with moist sand. It is also possible to store it in an underground pile, provided it is not permanently frozen. Even in the refrigerator, Chinese cabbage, wrapped in a damp cloth, will keep for a few weeks in the vegetable drawer. Chinese cabbage is not suitable for freezing or boiling down, as this preservation process causes it to lose its crisp freshness.

Chinese cabbage varieties

  • Bilko F1: Is very resistant to clubroot and rapidly growing. It forms firm, short heads and can be stored for a very long time
  • Richi F1: This variety is suitable for the rather unusual, early sowing from April to July. This strain, unlike many others, is not prone to imposition. The tender heads should be used immediately, as Richi cannot be stored.
  • Autumn Fun F1: Is very resistant to clubwort. The heads have unusually dark green leaves that are reminiscent of kale in color. Inside, the Chinese cabbage is yellowish and very tender. It is best for growing from July.
  • Green Rocket F1: The variety is less susceptible to rot and insect infestation, as it forms very well-closed heads.
  • Parkin F1: Particularly high-yielding variety that is also bolt-resistant. Very resistant to clubwort and insect pests.
  • Osiris F1: Particularly healthy variety with dark green leaves and well-closed heads. Particularly good shelf life!

Chinese cabbage can be eaten raw as well as cooked. It tastes mildly aromatic, but not too intensely like cabbage. Chinese cabbage is often used in Asian recipes in particular. In addition, Chinese cabbage, similar to German sauerkraut, can be fermented lactic acid. Fresh Chinese cabbage is high in potassium, magnesium, calcium and vitamin C, which makes it a particularly healthy autumn vegetable. Its valuable ingredients help to strengthen the immune system for the cold season ahead.

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