Preventing Your Garden From Bolting (Going to Seed)

Have you ever had your garden greens go to seed too quickly but can’t figure out why? This is known as “bolting.” Plants bolt when they are in high stress situations and head into the reproductive state quicker than they can produce fruit. The most common reasons that plants bolt are because of high heat, longer days, and root stress. Once the plant bolts, it is near its end of production and most often will have a bitter taste. It happens in many crops that prefer cold weather, like lettuces, bok choy, basil, and other greens. Sadly, once a plant begins to bolt, it is impossible to reverse the process. But there are a few ways to prevent it from happening all together.

How To Prevent Bolting

  1. Keep your soil cool. A quick and easy way to keep your soil cool and comfortable in the hot summer months is by placing a thick layer of mulch around your plants. You can use straw, woodchips, leaves, and even cardboard to keep roots cool. 
  2. Provide shade. To keep plants out of the direct sunlight, you can plant them as an understory next to tall plants like tomatoes, corn, peppers, or any other tall crops. Using a bedsheet or any other fabric can also be hung above sensitive plants to keep them cool.
  3. Direct sow seeds. Crops that are root sensitive, like carrots, beets, turnips, and any other root crops, do best when they are directly seeded in the ground and not transplanted. This prevents stress and will slow down bolting. 
  4. Keep plants watered. A thirsty plant is a stressed plant. Make sure to keep all crops evenly watered, especially in really warm weather. This will keep the plant less stressed, and therefore less susceptible to bolting.

Check out this video!