goldfinger
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What Causes Spinach to Bolt?

Hi Everyone-

Anyone have an idea exactly what it is that causes spinach to bolt? I am growing some in containers outside but we've had some really chilly weather lately and they were growing very slow. Now the weather is going to get much warmer - 70-75. So I'm afraid they may bolt. But if there's something I can do to keep it from happening- I'd like to know.

Thanks

Goldfinger

gumbo2176
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Best advice I can offer is to grow Swiss Chard instead of spinach when the weather warms. I've never had spinach last long once the weather warms, even when planted in a location where they don't get the full sun's heat of the day.

I currently have about 25 ft of chard planted along side a trellis with my cucumbers and they are doing great and our weather has been getting up to the mid 80's with regularity lately. We are having a bit of cooler weather the past 2 days due to some much needed rain that passed through on Tuesday night, but that won't last much longer. Again, try Chard. I am growing Fordhook and Bright Lites varieties.

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rainbowgardener
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Bolting is triggered by some combination of warm temperatures and more hours of daylight. Not much you can do about it. I grow mine in a fairly shaded area and it still bolts as soon as it gets hot. You can look for varieties labelled "long standing" or slow to bolt.

But I second gumbo's recommendation of swiss chard. It is the best thing I grow. It just goes and goes and goes all season, through spring frosts, summer heat, fall frosts.... Nothing bothers it, it gets no diseases. And it gets 2 or 3 times as big as spinach. What more can you ask? You can use it any way you would use spinach, raw or cooked. I make a swiss chard lasagna just substituting the chard in a spinach lasagna recipe, and I actually like it better than the original.
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goldfinger
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Thanks for the replies.

How does spinach taste compared to Swiss chard? I love spinach and am afraid to try anything else. But I live in the midwest which may be more suitable then the south so maybe I'll have some luck on my first try.



Goldfinger

annastasia76
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Goldfinger, that's exactly what I was going to ask, lol. I would like to hear the answer too, my daughter loves spinach (especially in soup) but I don't know if she would take to swiss chard, I've never tried it.
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gumbo2176
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goldfinger wrote:Thanks for the replies.

How does spinach taste compared to Swiss chard? I love spinach and am afraid to try anything else. But I live in the midwest which may be more suitable then the south so maybe I'll have some luck on my first try.



Goldfinger
Chard is an excellent substitute for spinach. I find it tastes very similar to spinach and like Rainbowgardener said, I use it in lasagna as a spinach alternative. Matter of fact I have a little left from the pan I made just this past Tuesday.

I also cooked a huge pot of it down this morning since I picked three 5 gallon buckets full earlier this week. The Fordhook variety makes huge leaves when compared to spinach. They are about the size of a good size collard green leaf. Much more prolific than spinach.

Put some seeds in the ground and try it out or better yet, head to the local farmers market or supermarket and purchase some and cook it like you would spinach and try it out. I don't think you'd be disappointed.

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It is the life mission of all garden plants to make seed for reproduction. Not much you can do to stop it. When the plant has achieved a certain size and vigor, it will send up a flower spike (bolt). The best thing to do for continuous production is plant more every two or three weeks.

I sometimes harvest spinach by taking the whole plant. This works well for market, quick and easy to harvest. I like to just pick leaves for me. Leave the plant to grow more leaves. Even doing this the plant will reach a point where it sends up a spike.

You should try some chard. It has a little different taste, but I find it excellent. (My wife won't eat it.) The leaves get much larger and it holds well in hot weather. In fact I have had fall chard leaves from spring planted chard.

Also beets can be grown for the greens. Beets are the same species as chard. To put it another way, chard is a variety of beets. Again the taste is a bit different. (My wife really likes beet greens. Go figure?)
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applestar
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This is from memoery so I might be mistaken, but I believe Swiss chard doesn't have the oxalate content that spinach does, so you don't get that tannic dry mouthfeel you get with spinach. On the other hand, I think chard can taste a little more bland compared to well-prepared spinach.

With chard, you have the big ribs to deal with. I like the ribs sliced in soup or used in stir fry... Kind of like celery, though the flavor is completely different. I admit sometimes, I just strip off the leafy green part and compost the ribs, especially if they are older and tough-stingy looking.

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!potatoes!
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chard definitely has measurable amounts of oxalates...enough that i've seen it recommended in some places not to eat too much chard raw. pretty sure i saw it in discussion about sea beets (the precursor to beets & chard) in toensmeier's perennial vegetables.

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jal_ut wrote:. . . chard. . . (My wife won't eat it.). . . (My wife really likes beet greens. Go figure?)
I agree with your wife, Jal :) .

If you really enjoy beet greens or baby beets but don't care much about beetroots (my hand goes up again ;)), you may want to try "Perpetual Spinach." It is also in the beet family but has a taste more like beets than chard.

My garden environment is fairly hot and dry during the summer months. The Bloomsdale Long Standing variety never seemed very long standing. Hector and Unipac 151 have done better. It is best for me to sow spinach where there is afternoon shade but it still won't last too far into the summer.

Steve
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applestar
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!potatoes! Then may be I had it backwards, and it's the spinach that doesn't have as much as chard.... Not inclined to heavily crosscheck my refs today... Sorry for the misinformation. Ultimate impression remains the same -- that spinach is somehow more flavorful and chard not as intensely flavored. Whether that translates to tasting good or better depends on individual taste buds. :wink:

That dry tannic mouthfeel thing I still think is stronger in Spinach though.

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Even better (in my humble opinion), grow lamb's quarters. It grows prolifically without any attention, is more nutritious than spinach and has a very mild flavor. It does have oxalic acid like the others. That just means that you don't feast on it too often. Too much of anything is bad. "All things in moderation".

goldfinger
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Thanks for all the replies. Have learned a lot but I have another question. Just because it bolts, does that mean whatever leaves are already on the plant are no good to eat? Or it there a time window where you can use the spinach leaves even after to seed stalk sprouts..

Thanks.

Steve

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jal_ut
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When it bolts what leaves it has on the spike are small. Yes, you can still eat them. The whole plant will soon get to looking punky as the seeds mature. If any leaves still look good, of course you can eat them.
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carnumbernine
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I'm soooooo glad I caught this thread!! I wanted to plant spinach and was never brave enough to try swiss chard (and hadn't even thought about beats-one of my FAVES).

Swiss chard it is!
Sincerely,

Jen in CenTex

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rainbowgardener
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Once it bolts, the plant puts all its energy into making flowers/ seeds not leaves, so there aren't a lot more leaves and what there are tend to get kind of bitter.
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Spinach and other leafy-greens bolt due to the excessive heat. Now, some of these crops are more sensitive than others to this factor.

To keep your spinach longer, you could try putting up some lattice or shade-cloth so that it will be shaded and receive diffused light during the heat of the day.

Oh, and I agree with everyone else......swiss chard is one of the more bolt-resistant greens I've grown.
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goldfinger
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garden5 wrote:

To keep your spinach longer, you could try putting up some lattice or shade-cloth so that it will be shaded and receive diffused light during the heat of the day.
You must have been reading my mind. I thought about just putting a cardboard box over each container for a few hours a day to try and trick them into thinking it was late winter or early spring. I guess the temperature will give it away though.

GF

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