Many favorite leafy greens are annuals so they grow from
- seed to
- seedling to
- adult green leafy plant,
- then on to maturity by sending up a flowering head to make the next generation of seeds
All in one year – or less if stressed.
Spring is when plants which had grown well, producing abundant leaves over the past months, suddenly sprout flower/seed stalks and send their energy to produce seeds instead of growing lush leaves.
You can see when this is beginning:
We pick the stalks out from the plants which first shoot up – and eat the leaves.
The plants left to grow are those which lasted longer before bolting to flower/seed.
They can grow on and produce more leaves and then, later, seeds. This way we select for plants which last longer giving the parts we like to eat – leaves.
If we left the first plants to shoot up and seed, we are selecting for a shorter season of the leaves we like – hmmm.
So the take-away message:
Select for the qualities you want in your crops.
- Size of the part you eat
- Vibrancy and disease-resistance of the whole plant
- Length of season of the part you like to eat
- Early/mid/late season production which avoid pests/diseases [and provide special treats at the start of the season – gee they taste lovely after not having the crop for some months]
- And any other qualities important to you.
Consider the whole life-cycle when you are choosing which plants to let flower and seed.
When you see leafy greens starting to produce a flowering stalk
It is time to plant new seeds and seedlings to grow up for crops to harvest in a month or so.
You have an indicator telling you that now is a good time to start a new batch of seedlings. [Well, within their seasons – e.g. leafy greens like cool, moist conditions and summer heat quickly causes them stress so they bolt to seed when small.]
= Succession planting.
To give a continuous supply of the veg you want, within its season.
[PS – tiny leafy greens are loved by snails and slugs so protect them!]