Leafy planting days today and tomorrow. The trick with leafies this time of year is to think about sex.
As far as the plant is concerned, from now until the summer solstice, it’s best chance of getting some is to flower as soon as it can. While the days are lengthening there is time for the bees to do their bit and the next generation to germinate, mature and get in a store of food before the winter arrives again. After the summer solstice, around 21st December in the southern hemisphere, the days will start shortening again, and the plant will figure it’s best strategy is celebacy – hold off on flowering until the winter is over or risk it’s newly germinated offspring being covered in snow.
So leafies will all be like wayward teenagers trying to grow up too fast. Whatever you do, you are likely to have a short season, so the first trick is to plant small quantities every planting break and plan for picking for just a few weeks. The second trick is to choose varieties that have been bred to be slow to bolt. And the third trick is to avoid panicking the plant – giving it a really smooth run to adulthood will help convince it to bet on maturing a bit more and setting more seed, rather than reproduce as fast as possible.
And in the end, be resigned to the fact that a heat wave or day of dry wind or soil that is less than perfect or a few days when you forget to water will spook the plant anyway.
I’m planting out the advanced seedlings in the shadehouse from last month, and this time seed of a couple of varieties of lettuces and rocket, and that’s all. Oh and basil of course. Lots of basil.