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Roots and Perennials Days in Mid Spring – Avoiding the Bolters

Happy Beltane to southern hemisphere readers (and Halloween to northerners). Today is one of those turning points in the photoperiod calendar.  Although as far as temperature goes, it’s only mid spring, as far as day length goes, tomorrow is the start of summer – the season centred on the summer solstice when nights are at their shortest.  The days are still getting longer, but today we pass the point on the bell curve where the rate of change slows right down.  There’s a nice simple graph that explains it here.

What it means for gardeners is that anything that needs long days to flower and seed is likely to do it now.  It’s called photoperiodism, and it’s non-negotiable! Sometimes this is a good thing, when it is the fruit that is the harvest, but if the heart or bulb or root is the harvest, it’s called bolting.

In my part of the world, it means from now on, onions and carrots are tricky. I give up on all the bulbing types of onions (including shallots), and stick to non-bulbing spring onions. Even leeks are touch and go and with the least bit of stress they will bolt to seed.

With carrots, I stick to very fast baby carrots this time of year. My celery is all starting to flower no matter how nicely I treat it, and I need to treat any lettuces I plant from now on as if they are divas.

Usually all this feels right – spring is normally such a harsh season here, our hot dry windy season – that I am not tempted to test the limits.  But this year has been so cool and wet that I am looking at my carrot seeds thinking, maybe I’ll get away with another round?  Which is why I’m writing this.  Someone tell me to go plant a pineapple instead!

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{ 3 comments… add one }
  • Jess October 31, 2010, 8:45 pm

    Blessed beltane! <3

  • kimmy November 3, 2010, 12:04 pm

    I have just discovered your blog, Linda….wonderful work . Your book is the most tattered , dog eared , lent and loved book in my bookshelf and now I have your blog too!
    I like your blog because it balances out the ‘arty’ ‘creative side’ of me . I do things because I feel like it in my garden, but when i read your blog, I see how and why things happen. A good , fun and informative read!
    thegirlwithgreenthumbs.blogspot

  • Celia @ Fig Jam and Lime Cordial November 3, 2010, 5:01 pm

    Corn, baby, we’re planting corn. “Why?” I ask. “Because Linda says so,” my husband replies. Good enough reason for me! 🙂

    Our broccoli is all flowering, but the tomatoes are promising so much. Lettuce is just about done, but we still have a little kale, and carrots are still going well. Some beans still going, but the broadbeans are now being left for next year’s seed. The perennial leeks are all so happy and spreading like weeds, and the cucumber and zucchini is just starting to take off. We still haven’t harvested any potatoes yet, I hope we get some soon, they’re still tiny! 🙂

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