The weather is hot and sunny, and my garden is growing like crazy. The greens have been keeping me busy tending them. I need to harvest their leaves every couple of days before they get too large or else they will start to taste bitter. Also, the hot weather signals the greens that their growing season is almost over (they prefer cooler weather) so the little green leafy plants start to send up tall flower stalks in an effort to reproduce and continue their life cycle. Smart little greens. The act of flowering like this when the hot weather hits is called bolting. A term that was unfamiliar to me until I started this vegetable garden here in the mountains about 10 years ago. I read about bolting in several of my gardening books.
Colorful Red Flower Stalk on Bolting Swiss Chard
Greens that bolt start to put all of their life energy and nutrients into the flower stalks and resulting seeds for the next generation of plants. Because of this, the green leafy parts start to become bitter tasting and usually are smaller, which is not good for those of us who like to eat the grean leafy parts of lettuce, mesclun, Swiss Chard, spinach, cabbage, bok choy etc.
Tall Stalks of White Flowers on the Arugula (part of the mesclun salad greens)
There are ways to slow this bolting process down a bit, but nature will always have her way eventually. You can provide more shade for the green plants, thus keeping them a bit cooler and tricking them into thinking that their growing season is extended. You can snip off the flower stalks as they form, forcing the plant to produce more stalks. This method works well with green leafy herbs, but doesn't delay the green veggies very long. They are quick to recover and send up more flower stalks.
Yellow Flowers on the China Choy Cabbage
So today, I harvested a bunch of greens from my garden. I did my usual snipping off of individual outer leaves and left the plant in the ground to produce more leaves, and I also thinned them out by pulling up whole plants by the roots. That gave them more air circulation to prevent rot and slugs and other creepy crawlies from making themselves at home in my salad greens.
I brought in 1 lb of Swiss Chard (a combination of the Bright Lights variety and Fordhook Green), 1 3/4 lb of mixed mesclun and baby lettuce, and 1 1/4 lb of China Choy (like baby bok choy). They are soaking in bowls of cool water rejuvenating their crispness as I type this.
I guess I will be eating fresh green salads and lots of stir fry dinners for awhile. Good and healthy.
Farmer, gardener, baker, cook, massage therapist, cat & chicken Mom, partner & business owner. Sells earth friendly products for you and your home, including natural soap, candles, body balms, cat toys, cat beds & many other handmade crafts.
This Harvest Basket is a collection from mountain rural life, the everyday wonders of nature and the forest, my vegetable & herb gardens, fruit & nut trees, chickens, kitty cats & my loving partners. My endeavor to live a natural, healthy and peaceful life on my 3 acres in the beautiful Sierra Nevada foothills also includes home cooking, baking, canning & crafts. Join me on my journey of learning and growing each day. I will share my Mountain Harvest with you.