When I started growing caixin, I thought it would grow into the nice tight bunch of leaves that we normally see sold – and that we would have a one-time harvest. It’s so nice to see otherwise!
First of all, I was surprised to see that the plant actually branches out, once the main stem is established. I guess the logical thing is that as the plant matures and produces bigger leaves, it needs to have stronger stems to support those bigger leaves – so it grows those. As the plant also grows taller, the lower part of the stem discards the older leaves and is left bare. That’s where the new stems start growing, hence the branching out!
Another way to get the plant to start growing new stems is to do some harvesting or pruning. No thanks to the recent infestation of little green caterpillars, I’ve pruned away a lot of the nasty parts of the plants – not just leaves, but whole branches, too. The caterpillars tend to spin little web-like threads that are concentrated at joints, and these sticky strands tend to catch and hold on to the caterpillar droppings – an ugly, unhealthy looking appearance. I got rid of them all, leaving sad-looking caixin plants in the planter.
A week later, I had the happy surprise of seeing new leaves sprouting in several places. I was so pleased, because I didn’t expect that of this veggie. All the new growth gave me hope of maybe – just possibly – being able to eventually harvest some caixin if I can keep the pests away. And, if it keeps growing new stems and branches, we’ll be able to harvest caixin for a longer period than expected. Did you know it was cut and grow again? 8)