My Celery Is Blooming: Is Celery Still Good After Bolting

My Celery Is Blooming: Is Celery Still Good After Bolting

Celery flowers will lead to celery seed, which is a good thing if you wish to harvest and store the seed for flavoring. It is a bad thing for the stalks themselves, however, as they tend to go bitter and woody with thick strings. Flowering in vegetables is called bolting and is a response to environmental and cultural cues.

Bolting in celery means the plant is trying to set seed and ensure its genetic material will be carried on into more favorable growing conditions. Is celery still good after bolting? Well, it’s not going to kill you, but my guess is you would prefer chewable, crispy stalks with a sweet flavor and not the tough ones that develop after flowering occurs.

Bolting in Celery

The celery we use today is a relative of wild celery and a cultivated crop. It is a tender perennial plant that prefers partial sun, cool conditions and consistently moist but not boggy soil. Once summer temperatures heat up and the daylight hours get longer, a typical response in celery is to produce flowers.

These are lovely, lacy white umbels of tiny flowers that get the pollinators going but they also signal a change in the plant itself. You can try a few tricks to extend the celery stalk season and prevent bolting celery for a few more weeks or simply enjoy the flowers and seeds and start a new batch of celery for the next year.

Why My Celery is Blooming

It can take 4 to 5 months from seeding to start harvesting your first tender, juicy celery stalks. The plant requires a long cool growing season, which means many gardeners must start seed indoors 10 weeks before planting it outside or resort to “cheats” or purchased seedlings.

Soil must also be fertile, well draining but moist and slightly shady. An area with no more than 6 hours of light is preferable. Plants that bloom are doing so in response to some environmental cue.

You can nip celery flowers in the bud by providing shade during the heat of the day with row covers and pinching off flowers. Harvest stalks regularly so new ones form. New, young stem growth tends to ward off flowering for a while.

When a celery plant has flowers in spite of preventions, it means the plant is not experiencing correct cultural care. It is stressed, or the summer heat is simply too much for the plant and it is going to procreate.

What to Do if Your Celery Plant Has Flowers

There are some celery plants that are low to bolt, which means they flower later in the season than some other cultivars. In areas with early, hot summers, these are the best bet for a longer celery stalk season.

Make sure the celery is happy in its home. This means organic rich soil that has been cultivated to a depth of at least 8 to 10 inches (20 to 25 cm.), good drainage and a consistent water supply. I find that plants grown in a dappled light area perform better than those in full sun.

Cold snaps are also a potential cause of celery bolting as the plant responds to the threat of extinction by frost and wants to set seed to secure its DNA. Watch out for late season plantings when frost threatens and use cold frames or soil warming blankets to keep the plants warm.

Is Celery Still Good After Bolting?

Celery that has flowered will produce woody stems that are difficult to cut and chew. These still have flavor that can be passed onto stocks and stews, but fish out the stems before serving. Their greatest contribution may be to the compost bin unless you enjoy the flower or want the seed.

My celery is blooming currently and is a 6-foot (1.8 m.) tall plant with marvelous huge umbels of fairy-like white flowers. It is attracting bees, wasps and other pollinators to help the other plants in my garden and I consider it a boon.

Time enough later to compost the plant, I have decided to enjoy its architectural elegance for the time being. If you are impatient with simple visual beauty, consider that in six weeks you can harvest pungent celery seeds, which are a great addition to many recipes and once toasted have completely different complex flavor from fresh seed.


Bolting In Celery Plants - What To Do When Celery Plant Has Flowers - garden

There are a number of diseases and pests that can potentially harm your celery crop. Luckily, there’s a fairly simple solution to avoid most of these issues: plant a less-vulnerable variety like Tall Utah.

Below, we've listed common diseases and pests, and what you can do to either avoid or fix the issue!

POTENTIAL DISEASES

Bacterial blight:A disease causing small water-soaked spots to form on the leaves that are circular or angular in shape.


Soft rot: Small water-soaked lesions will form that become soft, sunken and brown. The bacteria for this disease will enter your plant through wounds (like tears in the stem), and it usually comes out when soil has been water-soaked for a long period of time.


Celery mosaic: The leaves may be twisted, curled or cupped, and young plants may be stunted. This virus is transmitted by several types of aphid pests, and symptoms usually develop within 10 days or so.


Damping-off: A disease causing soft, rotted seeds that fail to germinate. The fungus can be spread three different ways, either in water, by contaminated soil, or on your equipment.


Early blight:Small yellow spots will form on the upper and lower leaf surfaces, which then grow into brown-grey spots with a papery texture. Typically, this disease thrives in warm temperatures and high humidity.


Downy mildew:At first, this disease causes leaves to turn yellow, typically starting from the main vein then spreading outward. Fungal spores (ew!) will then grow on the undersides of leaves, appearing as gray to almost purple fuzzy spots. Downy mildew typically affects young, tender leaves.


Late blight: You’ll notice black spots that look like peppercorns embedded in the leaf tissue. It becomes a problem when heavy rainfall and dense leaf canopies keep your plants from drying properly.


Fusarium yellows: Yellowing plants that are severely stunted, with brown, water-soaked roots. This fungus can survive in your soil indefinitely once it’s there, and it’s usually introduced by infected transplants or contaminated equipment


Pink rot:Soft brown lesions on the base of celery stalks that cause the surrounding area to turn pink. Later, large black spots will develop on the infected spot. Typically, pink rot is caused by soil that’s been heavily wet for more than two weeks.


Powdery mildew:White patches that start on older leaves and eventually spread to other plant parts. It’s brought on by high humidity and moderate temperatures, with symptoms becoming most severe in shaded areas.

POTENTIAL PESTS

Armyworm: Larvae that heavily feed on leaves, turning them into “skeleton” leaves. These pests are most active in the early morning and the late evening, which are the best times to check for damage.


Aphids:Usually green or yellow, but they can also be pink, brown, black or red. A heavy infestation may cause your celery leaves to appear yellow and distorted. Sooty mold can also develop as a result of the sugary/sticky substance they leave behind.


Nematodes:Microscopic worms that live in soil and plant tissue. They stunt your celery’s growth, and cause galls (swelling growths)
to form on the roots. Because of their wide host range, it’s difficult to manage this disease sufficiently.


Black heart:This disease appears as black spots in the middle of the plant, and the damage typically isn’t visible until later in the season. Black heart is a nutrient imbalance that’s caused by a calcium deficiency

If you're having an issue with your celery that wasn't listed above, be sure to let us know! Send us a message so that we can help your plants thrive :)

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Celery Growing Problems: Troubleshooting

Celery requires plenty of moisture, fertile soil, and a long, cool growing season.

Celery requires plenty of moisture, fertile soil, and a long, cool growing season.

You can start celery from seed, but germination is slow, about four weeks.

Sow seeds indoors at least 10 weeks before seedlings are to be set out.

A better plan might be to purchase celery starts when you are ready to plant.

Even with moisture, fertile soil, and the right climate for growing, celery is seldom trouble-free. Celery is susceptible to many pests and diseases. Here is a list of possible celery growing problems matched with cures and controls:

(For celery growing tips see Celery Growing Success Tips at the bottom of this post.)

Common celery growing problems with cures and controls:

• Seeds rot or seedlings collapse with dark water-soaked stems as soon as they appear. Damping off is a fungus that lives in the soil, particularly where humidity is high. Do not plant in cold, moist soil. Make sure soil is well drained.

• Seedlings stunted, plants appear stunted roots appear to have knots or beads. Root-knot nematodes are microscopic worm-like animals that live in the film of water that coat soil particles some are pests, some are not. Root-knot nematodes feed in the roots and stunt plant growth they are most common in sandy soils. Rotate crops. Solarize the soil with clear plastic in mid-summer.

• Plants produce lots of leaves but not stalks growth is slow. Sudden temperature fluctuations during early growth. Protect young plants from cold use horticultural cloth or cloches when temperatures are low. Don’t plant too early.

• Bolting plants flower and go to seed. Celery will bolt prematurely if plants are exposed to too many days with temperatures below 55°F. Protect young plants from cold use horticultural cloth or cloches when temperatures are low. Don’t plant too early.

• Leaves turn yellow and then brown from the bottom up plant loses vigor plants appear stunted worms bore into roots. Wireworms are the soil-dwelling larvae of click beetles they look like wiry-jointed worms. Check soil before planting flood the soil if wireworms are present. Remove infested plants and surrounding soil.

• Young stems chewed. Young earwigs feed on plant shoots and eat holes in foliage. Most often the damage is tolerable and the infestation is light. Heavy infestation use traps of rolled wet paper or old flowerpots stuffed with paper to catch earwigs at night. Dump them in soapy water. Keep garden free of plant debris. Spray with hot pepper and garlic repellent.

• Leaves curl under and become deformed and yellowish. Aphids are tiny, oval, and yellowish to greenish pear-shaped insects that colonize on the undersides of leaves. They leave behind sticky excrement called honeydew which can turn into a black sooty mold. Remove with a blast of water. Use insecticidal soap. Aluminum foil mulch will leave aphids disoriented.

• Tunnels or blotches in leaves. Leafminer larvae tunnel inside leaves. Destroy infected leaves and caterpillars. Cultivate the garden to destroy larvae and keep adult flies from laying eggs. Cover crops with floating row covers to exclude flies.

• Leaves folded under and webbed holes chewed in leaves and stalks. Celery leaftier is a pale green caterpillar with a white stripe down its back that grows to ¾-inches long the adult moth is small brown with dark wavy lines in its wings. Hand pick and destroy. Remove leaves which shelter caterpillar. Use Bacillus thuringiensis.

• Irregular small holes eaten in leaves. Cabbage looper is a light green caterpillar with yellow stripes running down the back loops as it walks. Keep garden clean of debris where adult brownish night-flying moth can lay eggs. Cover plants with spun polyester to exclude moths. Pick loppers off by hand. Use Bacillus thuringiensis. Dust with Sevin or rotenone.

• Irregular holes in foliage and stems. Celeryworm is the grown and white larva of the black swallow-tail butterfly. Usually few are found. Pick off by hand. Spray with Bacillus thuringiensis (Dipel). Spray or dust with Sevin, pyrethrum, rotenone.

• Leaves are eaten and plants are partially defoliated. Blister beetles and tomato hornworms eat leaves. Handpick insects and destroy. Keep the garden weeds and debris. Cultivate in spring to kill larvae and interrupt the life cycle. Pick off beetles by hand. Spray or dust with Sevin or use a pyrethrum or rotenone spray.

• Large holes eaten in leave trails of sliver slime. Snails and slugs prefer cool temperatures. Hand pick and destroy place protective borders of sand, lime or wood ashes around plants. Mulch with wood shavings or oak leaves.

• Tips and leaf margins become streaked and look scorched. Magnesium deficiency. Have the soil tested. Use magnesium chelates. Plant resistant varieties: Emerson Pascal, Utah 52-75.

• Brown spots on leaves and stems plants become stunted and die. Late blight of celery is caused by Septoria fungus a soil and seedborne disease triggered by heat and humidity following a rainy period. Keep the garden clean and free of weeds. Remove infected plants. Improve soil drainage.

• Yellow spots on outer leaves enlarge to become gray-brown streaks. Celery early blight or Cercospora leaf spot is a fungal disease spread by heavy rainfall and warm temperatures. Keep weeds down in the garden area they harbor fungal spores. Avoid overhead watering.

• Plant turns pale green, yellows beginning on one side, yellowing spreads stems rot plant wilts. Fusarium wilt or stem rot is soilborne fungus that infects plant vascular tissue, usually where the soil is warm. Plant in well-drained soil. Rotate crops. Remove and destroy infected plants. Grow resistant varieties: Cornell No. 19.

• Mottled green and yellow leaves zigzag bands may develop, distorted leaves. Mosaic virus has no cure it is spread from plant to plant by aphids and leafhoppers. Plant resistant varieties. Remove diseased plants. Remove broadleaf weeds that serve as virus reservoir.

• Zigzag paths into crown and heart of celery. White with brown, legless grubs are the larvae of the carrot weevil, a dark crown to coppery, hard-shelled weevil to 1/5 inch long. Stunted plants Carrot weevil larvae are white grubs with dark heads that feed at the crown of celery.

• Twisted, brittle stalks plants yellowed and stunted. Aster yellows is a mycoplasma disease spread by leafhoppers. Remove infected plants. Control leafhopper. Keep the garden free of weeds which can harbor disease.

• Inner stalks and leaves die at tips and turn brown or black. Blackheart associated with soil calcium deficiency. Calcium deficiency can inhibit uptake of water into plant. Increase watering and mulch to conserve soil moisture. Test soil add gypsum or limestone if soil is calcium deficient. Maintain soil pH between 6.5 and 8.0. Plant resistant celery varieties: Cornell 19, Emerald, Emerson, Golden Pascal.

• Celery stems crack crosswise stems are stiff and brittle leaf edges may be streaked and brown. Boron deficiency, often found in alkaline soils. Test soil. If deficient, add 2 ounces of borax per 30 square yards. Plant resistant varieties of celery: Golden Self-Blanching, Dwarf Golden Self-Blanching, Giant Pascal, Utah 52-70.

• Central leaves turn dark. Similar to blackheart, but this is the work of the tarnished plant bug a greenish yellow to brown bug to ¼-inch long wit yellow triangle marks at the end of each wing. The tarnished plant bug sucks sap from plant causing tissue to break down leaves at the center of the plant turn gray and black while outer stalks appear healthy.

• Water-soaked spots on stalks with cottony pink mold at base. Pink rot fungus grows at soil surface level in cool, wet conditions. Remove and destroy infected plants. Keep garden free of weeds where fungal spores can rest.

• Stalks tough, bitter. Possibly: stalks over-mature high temperatures dry soil poor fertility. Harvest when tender. Plant so that celery comes to maturity in cool weather. Keep plants evenly moist throughout growing season. Side dress feed plants with aged compost.

Celery Growing Success Tips:

Planting. Grow celery in full sun. Celery grows best in well-drained, moisture-retentive soil rich in organic matter. Celery can be grown from seed but it is very small and slow to germinate, at least 4 weeks. Plant celery in well-dug beds prepared with aged compost

Celery Planting Time. Sow seed indoors 10 to 12 weeks before transplanting starts to the garden. Set out celery just after the average last frost date in spring. Celery requires about 120 days of daytime temperatures in the 60s and nighttime temperatures in the 50°Fs. To grow a fall crop, set out transplants in late summer.

Celery Care. Celery requires soil rich in organic matter prepare planting beds with 2 to 4 inches of aged compost and work the compost in to the soil to 12 inches deep or dig a trench about 12 inches deep and fill it with aged compost before planting along the backfilled trench. Celery require even, consistent watering use drip irrigation or a soaker hose do not allow celery to dry out during the growing season. Protect celery with row covers if temperature dips below 50°F.

Celery Harvest. Begin the celery harvest when stalks are 6 to 8 inches tall. Cut outer stalks first so that plants will continue to produce new stalks. When plants form flower stalks harvest the whole plant at once.


How to stop veggies and herbs bolting to seed

How many times have you planted a herb like coriander/cilantro and had it go to seed, within a couple of weeks? This ‘bolting’ to seed uses up costly reserves that you’d rather your plant was turning into the leafy green bits or bulbs you want to harvest. So how can you stop it happening?

Coriander/cilantro flowering. Photo Doug Beckers

‘Bolting to seed’ happens when a plant, instead of using its energy reserves to make the leaves you want, starts to flower and produce seed. As this takes a large amount of energy, when a plant flowers, its vegetative (leaf) growth usually stops. When it sets seed, if it’s an annual plant that’s also a signal for the plant to begin dying.

Plants that often bolt to seed are herbs like coriander/cilantro, basil and dill, and vegetables like lettuce, celery, beetroot, cabbage, spinach, radish, bok choy, rocket/arugula) and onion family plants like garlic and leek. Instead of tight heads of crisp green leaves, or juicy stalks, or tightly packed bulbs, you get flowers. The plant also withdraws sugars and water from the leaves to ‘fund’ this extravagant flowering, so leaves change from being sweet and juicy to tough and bitter. Some, like lettuce, also produce bitter compounds like sesquiterpene lactones in their leaves which may be to deter foraging predators.

So what causes this bolting to seed, and how can you prevent it?

Plants often flower in response to stress. It’s their way of ensuring reproduction in the face of an uncertain future. Environmental factors that stress plants include pests and diseases (although succumbing to these can also be an indicator of other stressors) too much nearby competition for water, nutrients and sunlight or too many days of high temperatures or sunlight. Once a plant is on the flowering path, in most plants there’s nothing you can do to stop it cutting off the flowering heads will not work to return it to leafy growth. One exception seems to be basil which can be turned back to leafy growth.

Bok choy. Photo Phil Dudman

1. Plant seedlings at a cooler time of year. Assess your climate zone, including your microclimate, for periods of prolonged heat. For example, in cooler but still subtropical zones like east coast NSW, there are often many hot days in November associated with the dry spring season, making an early-spring sowing vulnerable to bolting. Sow during autumn and winter instead. Spinach and broccoli will start to bolt after more than a few days at 24ºC (75ºF). Conversely in some very cold climates, you’ll need to delay sowing some of the summer-grown brassica plants like bok choy and mizuna until early summer. Plants like lettuce and Swiss chard if exposed to very cold temperatures early in their growth may have had flowering triggered which will then happen as soon as the weather warms up.

Cos lettuce Photo Helen Young

2. Check the sunlight hours the plant needs for optimum growth. Many plants, especially lettuce, spinach and radish, are programmed to respond to daylight hours as much as they are temperature. Don’t plant these longer-daylight flowering veggies too late in the spring. Shading these plants for part of the day will reduce their exposure and reduce bolting.

Basil & lettuce thrive on the shady side of the tomato trellis. Photo Helen McKerral

3. Give early bolting plants a little more shade as the weather warms. Although most vegetables are supposed to grow best in full sun, in a warmer climate many need some shade, especially to protect them from sunlight during the hottest part of the day, usually the afternoon. Plant them among taller-growing crops, or where they’ll be in some shade from about 2pm onwards, or rig up some shade cloth covers over bent PVC pipe.

Rocket and spinach seedlings. Photo Alice Spenser-Higgs

4. Plant at the correct spacing. We all like to err on the side of ‘more is more’ and it’s easy to overplant when seeds are so tiny. Be rigorous about thinning out your seedlings to the correct spacing, or only planting as many as you really have room for.

5. Mulch heat-sensitive herbs and vegetables. Some plants like coriander/cilantro) and broccoli will bolt to seed if its roots get hot, so a mulch layer will keep it cooler and the desired heads forming .

Cauliflower starting to flower. Photo Evelyn Simak geograph.org.uk

6. Keep the water up to your plants during hotter weather. Moist soil stays cooler and even one hot day with dryish soil can be enough to trigger a flowering cycle in heat-sensitive plants like cauliflower and rocket/arugula.

Harvest cut-and-come-again lettuce every week. Photo Marcelle Nankervis

7. Harvest the plants early and often that prefer cooler temperatures. If you keep cutting off growth from plants like lettuce, spinach and broccoli, it stimulates the plant to replace it.

8. Plant ‘slow bolting’ seed, or choose the right variety for your climate zone. Slow bolting seed really means a variety that’s been bred to withstand higher temperatures

9. Use the right fertiliser. Fertilisers for vegetables are not a one-size-fits-all. Some plants you will be growing precisely because you want them to flower and then set fruit or seed, others are there for their leaves and stems. If you use a fertiliser meant for a fruiting plant on your leafy greens, the nutrient mix will encourage them to flower. Look for fertilisers made for growing greens, which will be high in nitrogen (N).

Flower salad. Photo Yelkrokoyade

10. Eat the flowers! If all else fails, don’t forget you can often harvest the flowers instead and use them in stir fries and salads.


How to Delay Vegetable Crops from Bolting

What Causes Bolting?

Bolting is the name for plants making flowers and seeds. When a plant starts to bolt, it is usually a sign to expect a poor harvest, and a decline in flavor. You can eat bolting plants, but they become too tough and woody at some point.

Factors that can Trigger Bolting

Annual plants (basil, lettuce , melons, peas) grow from seed, flower and set seed all in one year. That can be spring to winter or fall to summer. Annual crops start making flowers as the daylength and temperature increase. Some annuals are crops where we eat the fruit or seeds and bolting is not an issue (sweet corn, tomatoes).

Increased day length : Bolting can happen (especially with annual crops) when day length increases as summer approaches. This can be a problem if you planted your seeds too late in the spring for that crop to mature before the plants bolt.

High soil temperatures : As soil temperatures increase, annual plants begin flower and seed production. This isn’t a problem after bountiful harvests. But, when spring has unusually hot weather or if you plant crops too late into the growing season, your crop may bolt before any harvests.

Biennial plants (beets, brassicas (broccoli, cabbage, kale, turnips etc), carrots, celery, chard, leeks, onions, spinach) grow big the first year, then seed the second year, if we still have them. Many biennial food crops are grown as cool weather annuals. U nsettled weather (cold nights, hot days, late frosts) early in the season can cause biennials to bolt. Spinach grows best in temperatures from 35-75°F (1-23°C) and will begin to flower once spring days are longer than 14 hours and temperatures get above 75°F (23°C).

Cold temperatures: A prolonged cold spell in spring can signal to biennials (especially immature plants) that “winter” has happened and it’s time to develop seeds for the next season. If you start these crops too early in the calendar year, you risk exposing them to cold weather, priming them to develop flowers as soon as the weather warms up again. Brassicas started in cool conditions, and grown on in warmer conditions, are primed to bolt.

Plant size : larger biennial plants are more likely than small ones to bolt when a trigger such as cold temperatures strikes.

Root stress : Bolting caused by root stress typically happens when you disturb a plant's root system by transplanting, or if your plant runs out of growing space in a container that's too small, or because the rows did not get sufficiently thinned.

S tresses such as insufficient minerals or water : Healthy soil with plenty of nutrients and balanced moisture levels will encourage quick growth. Every gardener should aim for this balance, especially those in hotter climates where it's a race to plant leafy salads, cooking greens and root crops before the hot weather wins. High salt levels are another stressor, particularly in hoophouses.

25 Tips to Delay Vegetable Crops from Bolting

  • Investigate, record and follow local last planting dates for early spring crops, and first planting dates for fall crops. Plant spinach 4-6 weeks before the average date of the last frost in your region. You can also sow 6-8 weeks before the first fall frost.
  • For some crops there are varieties that are resistant to bolting. If you have had repeated trouble with a particular crop bolting, look for bolt-resistant varieties. White and brown onions are less prone to bolting than red varieties.
  • Onions grown from sets (plants stymied in mid-growth) are prone to bolting. Grow onions from seed or plant heat-treated sets in early spring.
  • Avoid stressing your plants .
  • Direct sow. Plants prone to bolting due to root stress (beets, carrots, radishes, turnips, and many herbs) grow best when you direct sow them, rather than transplanting. This allows their root systems to develop without interruption.
  • Transfer seedlings to a larger pot before the roots get crowded ("root bound")
  • Harden off plants before transplanting. Get them used to outdoor conditions, avoid shock.
  • Cover plants in the event of a cold spell, which can keep them from being directly exposed to cold temperatures, rain, or snow.
  • To postpone bolting in spring, avoid chilling young brassica plants (above 5-8 true leaves , or with a stem diameter above a certain size), below 40°F (4.5°C) for a few days, or longer at 50 ° F (10 ° C). The interaction of plant size (age) and cold temperatures makes the plant flower. Older plants are more likely to bolt than young plants at the same cold temperature. Young hardened-off plants are very resistant to bolting.
  • Coax your vegetables to maturity quickly and efficiently so they're ready to eat before the plants have a chance to flower.
  • Mulch spring crops early to help keep the soil and roots cooler, extending the harvest. We have found this to be especially helpful with spring cabbage and broccoli.
  • Use shadecloth t o keep greens and lettuce cool as the season warms, or plant them in the shade of other plants
  • Many cool-season crops mature better before temperatures get to 80°F (27°C), so plan accordingly. If your springs heat up fast as ours do, start earlier.
  • Plant some annuals after the summer solstice to grow in the decreasing daylength without risk of bolting (unless another factor such as stress or temperature comes into play) . Spring-sown Asian greens will bolt as nights become warmer – on average above 50-55°F (10-13°C). To prevent bolting in Asian greens, sow these crops from July onwards.
  • Winter radishes will only form a good root if they are planted in late summer or fall as the days get shorter. Grow bulb fennel, storage carrots, beets in fall, not spring.
  • Once cold-hardy plants are big, they can endure cold winter temperatures. They will not bolt until the daylight is lengthening again (after the Winter Solstice) and the temperature starts to rise.
  • Brassica greens started in hot conditions do not usually bolt if they have enough water. I recommend both Tokyo bekana and Maruba Santoh (both "celery cabbage" types of Asian greens), for summer substitutes for lettuce. You do have to grow them fast, with plenty of water, and insect netting if you have brassica leaf pests.
  • Sow quick-maturing plants like lettuce, cilantro, or radish regularly. Succession sowing can keep some plants always coming into maturity instead of relying on one sowing to last a long time without bolting in the garden.
  • If you grow biennial plants and harvest them in the first year, they are unlikely to bolt. A few specimens may still do so. Chard is cold-sensitive, and by delaying sowing until April, we grow chard as a fresh cooking green all summer, and it will not bolt no matter how hot.
  • For early harvests of biennials, start the plants in plug flats or soil blocks indoors, planting them out when the weather is more settled and avoiding cold stress.
  • Dry soil can also encourage bolting, particularly with cabbages, cauliflower, arugula and spinach. Provide ample water.
  • For over-wintered leeks and onions, bolting can be delayed by topdressing with 2-3oz per sq yd (70-100g per sq m) of nitrogen rich fertilizer very early in the new year
  • Pick off the outer leaves from leafy crops such as lettuce, keeping the plants from maturing. As well as providing you with multiple harvests, this can extend the harvest period by as much as 10 weeks, although in hot weather the flavor may still become bitter, even without bolting. Grow Batavian varieties in hot weather.
  • With some crops, like basil, if you catch a plant in the very early stages of bolting, you can temporarily reverse the process by snipping off the flowers and flower buds. The plant will go back to producing leaves and will stop bolting. In most plants (such as broccoli and lettuce) this only buys you a little extra time to harvest the crop.
  • Cabbage wrangling : If a cabbage is mature and preparing to split open (a stage of bolting) before you are ready to harvest, you can get a firm hold on the head and give it a quarter turn. This will break some of the feeder roots and reduce the water uptake, delaying splitting.

Change your attitude about Bolting

You can’t control the climate, the weather or the daylength. If you’ve taken the steps listed above and your plants are still bolting, change your attitude! As soon as you see signs of your greens bolting, harvest the entire plant. Learn to appreciate peppery arugula or slightly bitter lettuce (mixed in with other salad greens). Bolted vegetables are food for pollinating insects such as bees. Enjoy the beauty of sprays of yellow brassica flowers, majestic globes of leeks and onions, and lacy carrot umbels.

Pam Dawling has worked at Twin Oaks Community in central Virginia for more than 27 years, growing vegetables for 100 people on 3.5 acres and training many members in sustainable vegetable production. She is the author of Sustainable Market Farming and The Year-Round Hoophouse. Pam often presents workshops at MOTHER EARTH NEWS FAIRs and at sustainable agriculture conferences. She is a contributing editor with Growing for Market magazine, and a weekly blogger on SustainableMarketFarming.com. Read all of Pam’s MOTHER EARTH NEWS posts here.

All MOTHER EARTH NEWS community bloggers have agreed to follow our Blogging Guidelines, and they are responsible for the accuracy of their posts.


Enjoy Your Tasty, Tender Blanched Stalks

Blanching celery takes a little bit of elbow grease, but once you do the necessary work, you can sit back and watch your celery fade (if you peek).

Before you know it, it will be time to enjoy some tender, tasty stalks spread with hummus or peanut butter!

It may take a bit of trial and error before you find the length of blanching time that best suits your taste buds.

If your crop lacks flavor, you may want to try blanching again next year beginning 10 days before harvest next time, instead of three weeks in advance.

On the other hand, for celery that’s still too strong, next year you should plan to blanch closer to four weeks in advance of the anticipated harvest date.

Have you ever blanched celery in your garden before? What’s your favorite method? Do you have any tips to share? Let us know in the comments below!

And for more celery growing tips, we invite you to read the following informative guides next:

© Ask the Experts, LLC. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. See our TOS for more details. Top photo via Alamy. Uncredited photos: Shutterstock. With additional writing and editing by Clare Groom and Allison Sidhu.

About Laura Melchor

Laura Melchor grew up helping her mom in the garden in Montana, and as an adult she’s brought her cold-weather gardening skills with her to her home in Alaska. She’s especially proud of the flowerbeds she and her three-year-old son built with rocks dug up from their little Alaska homestead. As a freelance writer, she contributes to several websites and blogs across the web. Laura also writes novels and holds an MFA in writing from Vermont College of Fine Arts.


Watch the video: How to transplant and care celery, one of the best vegetable to grow