Zhang Qing was from Mengzhou. He had a weird-looking face and thin facial hair. He once worked as a gardener in Guangming Monastery and once got into a violent quarrel and killed the monks in the monastery in a fit of anger, then burnt down the monastery and became an outlaw at Shizipo. Once, he tried to rob an old man but was defeated by the old man in combat instead. The old man recognised his talent in martial arts and brought him home with him and taught him martial arts. Also, Zhang Qing married the old man's daughter, Sun Er Niang.
Zhang Qing and his wife opened a tavern at Shizipo in Mengzhou, luring unsuspecting traders into the tavern for a drink, and then killed them and robbed them of their valuables, under the pretext of running an honest business. Also, they made buns with human flesh fillings from the people they killed, and sold them to the customers. Zhang Qing made friends with several other heroes around the country and became quite well-known, earning himself the nickname 'Gardener' (菜园子).