This guide is how to prevent your plants from bolting, which can be so frustrating and happen really quickly in conditions that aren’t ideal for your plants.
What is bolting?
Bolting is when an edible plant such as lettuce/salads, some herbs, chard, spinach and other greens quickly go to seed much sooner than planned and usually before you’ve been able to harvest. You can often spot the signs of bolting as the plants suddenly grow tall, and you can see flower heads forming. Unfortunately, when that happens, the flavour of the plant changes and makes some of the leaves and other parts bitter, so avoiding bolting is preferable.
How to prevent your plants from bolting?
Make sure you plant out in the right season for your crops. Always read the seed packet when you start sowing seeds, harden them off before planting out and keep an eye on them. This will make sure they get the best chance at the right temperatures for them to grow.
It is all about avoiding stressing the plants. Keep them watered consistently rather than as and when, and it can also help if you have seedlings to pot them on before they get root-bound. Think about what the plant needs to thrive and stay on top of it truly.
When the weather heats up, some plants get stressed at the rise of heat and the sudden changes, and you will notice they shoot upwards quickly. For many leafy greens that can be prone to this, please give them a little shade to keep them cool and less stressed.
Successional sowing can help keep you with plenty of delicious crops throughout the season rather than relying on one crop for a long season that may be more prone to bolting. Sow more seeds every two weeks between spring and summer, which should mean you are harvesting into late summer/early autumn.
Pick the right varieties of plants that are ‘bolt hardy’ or ‘bolt resistant’ as they have been bred to cope better in conditions that might usually make them ‘go to seed’ much quicker. There are many varieties available. Another way is to sow ‘cut and come again’ varieties where you continuously cut the leaves, and the plant keeps on growing.
Plants bolt due to sharp changes in temperature, perhaps the length of the day or any number of other factors that cause plants to feel stressed. If that stress is not just short period plants, grow to produce flowers for seed which is an incredible process of ensuring their species continues to survive.
For seed varieties and advice, visit our friendly team in store and us.