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Grow Your Own Tatsoi At Home

Whenever I check a menu in a Chinese restaurant, tatsoi is one of those Asian  greens that I would normally skip in favor of the more popular stir-fried bokchoy.  Also known as spinach mustard, spoon mustard or rosette bok-choy, tatsoi is very popular in many Asian countries.  Among Filipinos, however, only a handful really know what this leafy vegetable is. Except for the longer stalk and smaller leaves, it actually resembles our native pechay in appearance, but it has more of the delicate and unique flavor that urges you to keep growing more and more. 


Like pechay, tatsoi can be started from seeds.  It thrives best in mild climates with rich moist soil. Here in the Philippines, tatsoi can be grown all-year, but the best time to grow this crop is during the cooler months from October to the early part of March. Start seeds around September in time for harvest in as early as 30 days.  

Tatsoi can also be grown in containers. Choose a medium-sized (2-gallon) pot or a rectangular pot with about 8-10 inches in depth. Observe proper spacing  in between each plant. Tatsoi leaves can stretch out more than a foot in diameter from end to end. So a spacing of 10-12 inches in between plants is highly recommended.

Select a spot that gets at least 4 hours of sunshine (preferrably in the morning). Keep the soil or potting media consistently moist, but never allowing it to get too  soggy.  If you see the  leaves turning brown or yellow at the tips,   it could mean  too much sunlight exposure. Simply provide some shade in the afternoon and consider watering more frequently. 

Tatsoi is a favorite of pests. Common pests include cabbage worms, slugs, leaf hoppers and caterpillars. The key to controlling pests is early detection. Regularly check the core of the plant if there are visible signs of pest infestation, like insect poop or larvae eggs. Spray a neem-based solution once a week to prevent or eradicate pests, applying it generously on the top and bottom leaves, as well as the stems. The plant can still be revived even if most of the leaves are destroyed by pests. Cut the infected leaves, leaving around 2 inches at the bottom. It will grow back its full leaves in about 2-3 weeks.    

Harvest tatsoi in about 4-5 weeks from the time you sow the seeds. You may opt to cut mature leaves and regrow the plant for another round of harvests in another 3 weeks. For me, I prefer cutting the base and harvesting the entire plant. To ensure a regular supply, sow new seeds every two weeks, and transfer each batch of new seedlings as you begin to harvest the earlier batches.

Tatsoi provides a good source of natural vitamins and minerals, particularly vitamins A, C, beta-carotene, folate and calcium. Both the leaves and stems are edible and delicious, and can be eaten raw (as salad), steamed or sauteed.  This makes it a "must-have" for us urban gardening moms.

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