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Leafy Green Planting in the Long Days of Spring


I used every trick in my arsenal for preventing bolting, but still, just a week or so after planting out,  this little Chinese Cabbage seedling has decided it’s just feeling too sexy for its shirt.  The days are getting longer at an exponentially faster rate now so everything wants to flower and set seed.  OK if you want to harvest the flowers, seeds, or fruit, but not much good for leafy greens.

It’s too late now for planting new seed of lettuces.  By the time they are bearing, we will be into the sizzle weather of summer.  Too late for celery – it would just get tough and fibrous in the dry heat of spring, and bolt to seed in the lengthening days.  Too late for silver beet – it just gets leaf spot in warm weather, and the tiny grasshoppers will be around by the time it is bearing anyway. Much too late for spinach – it will just bolt. I might get some flat leaf parsley if I’m lucky, and the basils have all been bred to hold back from bolting for a while.

I’ve tried lots of things called “spinach” of various kinds that promised to be good summer spinach substitutes – Ceylon spinach, Egyptian spinach, New Zealand spinach.  My favourite summer leafy so far is amaranth, and my favourite variety is Mekong Red, which means it’s not exactly a leafy green. Mekong Red grows a metre or more tall and has dark maroon red leaves that you can pick and pick again all summer. You can add leaves and stems to stir fries or sautee in olive oil and garlic and a splash of oyster or soy sauce as a side dish.  It’s hardy and productive and tasty enough that we actually choose to eat it when there are beans and zucchini and squash and all the other summer fruiting vegetables to choose from.

Next week will be fruiting planting days, and this time of year that’s easy. Beans and cucumbers and zucchini and squash and tomatoes and capsicums and all their relatives. But this week it’s just a small box of seed – lime and Thai and sweet basil, parsley, amaranth, and I think that will do.



{ 5 comments… add one }
  • Jude wright September 15, 2013, 7:23 am

    I am picking lettuce now at home, but you are right….it’s too late for more. At school (SAKG) we have hardly any leafy greens on the go as we had several batches of seedlings die due to lack of watering, I think I will try them on the amaranth; I have some seedlings growing at home. Thanks for the idea.

  • Jean Cruz September 18, 2013, 12:28 pm

    Hi, thanks for giving us insight about backyard planting. The prices of veggies are increasing everyday so doing this will help us save a relative amount of money.

    Anyways, I viewed your other posts and I saw that you are into cooking as well. Where do you get your kitchen tools and accessories? It seems like you have an eye for excellent quality, based on the pictures you posted. Me? I get them only from uniquedesign.net.au. They have the finest selections and fantastic deals ever.

    Nice blog you have right here. I’ll definitely come back for more.


  • Jason Dingley September 18, 2013, 3:53 pm

    Chinese cabbage I find the worst for bolting – it happens so quick. Sadly I planted my fennel too late and I noticed today that it is starting to bolt. I have been pleasantly surprised though, recently with growing lettuce. I am planting often and managing to catch them before they bolt. Here in Adelaide silverbeet over summer has been very successful for me.

  • Deb September 19, 2013, 7:13 pm

    Have you tried corn salad (mache)? I have had good success with that in the summer and I love the flavour. All those pseudo spinaches are hopeless – either utterly tasteless or have to be cooked so as not to poison you.

    I grow aragula too which is ok as long as it doesn’t get fried. It’s my favourite salad veg really, so good with just a grating of parmesan and a few cherry tomatoes.

  • celia September 21, 2013, 7:33 am

    Not sure what’s going on at our place, but our seedlings won’t come up this year. Perhaps because the weather here is still so bonkers – one day it’s hot, the next it’s cold. We still have leafy greens in the garden, but they’re running to seed as quickly as they can! 🙂

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