Q What is bolting?
A Bolting is when the veg plant becomes elongated, starts to produce flowers and then seeds before the crop is ready to harvest, or – in the case of brassicas where the flower buds form the crop, such as cauliflower and calabrese – the flowers open prematurely.
Caption: Once a plant has bolted, it should be pulled up and put on the compost heap
Q What are the likely causes of bolting in veg?
A Dry soil conditions are a common cause. For brassicas, inadequate soil firming is a likely cause.
Caption: Wet and chilly conditions in spring and summer can cause onions to bolt
Q Can veg plants affected by bolting be helped?
A Unfortunately for many veg, if the plant has bolted, there is nothing you can do but remove it. Onions and leeks can be saved by cutting off the flower head as soon as you see it. This will stop the plant wasting energy by making seeds. You can then use the affected plants, but they won't store well. Try to use them as soon as possible to stop them rotting or becoming woody.
Q How can bolting being avoided in veg?
A Make sure that the soil is well prepared with large quantities of organic matter to help hold water and water regularly. Brassica plants should be really firm in the soil and regularly refirmed at all stages in the season. Look out for varieties that are less prone to bolting such as 'Salad Bowl' lettuce and butterhead lettuce.