Need bolting advice

HJBlock(z6 NJ)July 7, 2005

Hi. I am growing basil, mesclun and spinach. Is there anything I can do to postpone bolting? Why are the basil plants I buy at the market SOOO much bigger than mine get before they bolt? Can you still use the basil leaves after they bolt? Right before they bolt? Or are they too bitter? How do you pick basil? A leaf at a time? A stalk? The whole plant? Thanks!

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Basil doesn't "bolt". The leaves do not turn bitter when the plants flower, they just cease production &/or produce in lesser amounts.

All you need do to continue to enjoy fresh quality basil foliage is to continuously pinch the flowers off. That's all.

Once lettuces & spinach, etc., bolt, the leaves are pretty much unusable & the plants should be pulled.

    Bookmark   July 7, 2005 at 1:02PM
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yeah, pinch the basil flowers... you might be giving them too much sun.... the others, heat makes them bolt, spinach and lettuce are solely winter crops for me.

    Bookmark   July 7, 2005 at 5:45PM
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ltcollins1949(9a TX)


Maybe I don't understand your comment regarding Basil doesn't "bolt". I do believe that you are wrong in your belief. Basils do bolt in Texas.

In Southern Herb Growing by Madalene Hill (past president of the Herb Society of America) & Gwen Barclay, leading authorities on growing herbs in Texas, they state the following about basils:

They will attempt to bolt into bloom almost as soon as they begin to grow, but keep bloom stalks cut off as much as possible. The plants will become woody as they mature and leaves will be sparser.

And Waynne Cox, with the San Antonio Herb Society states the following about basil:

Be sure not to let it seed and begin to bolt.

I have basils that have been growing in the ground as perennials for five years now because I keep them from bolting.

According to website
bolt/bolting - Common in hot weather and in annuals. Often because the plant is undergoing some stress, it will, seemingly overnight, jump ahead to the flowering stage of its life cycle without first establishing strong vegetative growth. Some varieties --of spinach for example-- have been developed that are bolt resistant.

If I misunderstood your comment, then I apologize.

    Bookmark   July 7, 2005 at 6:01PM
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Vera_EWASH(z5 EasternWA)

Looking good :)


    Bookmark   July 15, 2005 at 10:19AM
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This is just a matter of semantics.

Basil doesn't "bolt" in the same manner one considers bolting in other plants. Yes, it does hasten to flowering in extreme heat, but while the foliage decreases in size & quantity, it doesn't become inedible as with lettuce, spinach, & other plants. You could pinch off the flower stalks of spinach &/or lettuce till the cows come home & you still wouldn't end up with edible foliage. With basil, on the other hand, simply keeping the flowers pinched off will continue to give you a good harvest until the plant is felled by frost.

Good grief!!

    Bookmark   July 15, 2005 at 11:59AM
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ltcollins1949(9a TX)

Like I stated in the other post about "basil" this thread is a means of learning. When I'm teaching about herbs, and the term "bolt" is used, students always want to know what it means. It is nice to be able to answer their question correctly.

And by the way, there are parts of the world where frost doesn't happen therefore, basil does not die out. It is not a annual here, but rather a perennial if the plant is kept pruned. If it does die, it is because of heat and not frost.

Again Good grief!! is an unnecessary comment for those of us that are still learning about basil.

    Bookmark   July 15, 2005 at 12:29PM
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Okay - so subtract the "good grief". My opinion still stands.

And when I've lectured about herbs or discussed same with an herbal landscaping client, I've also answer the question about "bolting" correctly. That basil flowers & sets seeds like any normal plant. Keep the flowers cut back & you will continue to enjoy a usable harvest. However, when your Cilantro, Dill, Lettuce, Spinach, &/or other culinary plants "bolt" to seed, pull them & sow another crop.

    Bookmark   July 15, 2005 at 5:32PM
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Vera_EWASH(z5 EasternWA)

that is post in this thread belonged on another forum (wintersow gallery) and somehow I ended up posting it on this one...I thinks too much sun LOL!


    Bookmark   July 16, 2005 at 12:14AM
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