Argh! Why are my veg plants bolting?

pak choi bolted

If you’ve experienced some of your veg plants bolting, then don’t be too surprised. It’s been a funny couple of weeks with ridiculously hot, dry spells followed immediately by loads of rain and a chill in the air. This confuses plants…they don’t know whether they’re coming or going!

A hot, dry spell can often lead plants to bolt as they’re not getting enough water and they respond to a perceived drought by producing flowers and seeds to reproduce and survive. Likewise, when a cold spell suddenly comes along it tricks them into thinking autumn has arrived so they decide to get a wriggle on and get there seeds sown asap.

Once it has happened there is not a huge amount you can do about it, but you can definitely learn from it so that next year you are better prepared.

The first step is knowing which plants have a tendency to bolt. These include:

  • Rocket
  • Pak Choi
  • Tatsoi
  • Lettuces
  • Broccoli/Calabrese
  • Cabbages

The second step is knowing how you can help to create a consistent temperature and moisture content of the soil. This is to alleviate the problems of hot or cold spells and the best way to do it is to add a good layer of mulch around those vulnerable plants to keep them from drying out and to keep the soil around their roots a more consistent temperature.

Another thing you can do is to try again a little later on in the year – Pak Choi, Tatsoi and Wild Rocket all do really well planted in late August and September as it’s that much cooler but they still have plenty of sunshine and enough warmth to get growing well before winter sets in. You can also plant broccoli and cabbages over the coming weeks, so there’s still time to give them another shot remembering to mulch them well when you plant them and keep them well watered in hot and dry spells.