Mother Earth Living Blogs > In the Garden

In the Garden

Get down and dirty in the garden

Recognizing and Harvesting the Bolting Spinach

Michelle MooreShelley Moore is an aspiring organic backyard gardener with hopes of becoming a true 'green thumb'. She is the mother of two young daughters and the wife of one helpful husband. They reside in northern Utah. 

Did you ever have an experience where you finally ‘get it’ when there is someone else reading information out loud and/or saying something out loud?

Recently, my husband was reading about spinach in the “Bible,” otherwise known to us as Rodale’s Ultimate Encyclopedia of Organic Gardening, and now I "get" what it means when spinach bolts.

According to the book it states: “Since both hot weather and longs days trigger spinach to bolt (send up a seed stalk) quickly, the secret to success with this crop is to start sowing seeds as possible in spring, to make small, frequent plantings during late spring and summer, and to concentrate on fall as the season for the main crop.” 

Now, I’m pretty sure I’ve read this before, but when he sat there in the kitchen reading, bolting made sense. And perhaps he was thinking there were seeds on our spinach?

Indeed he was right. 

seed stalk 
Seeds on a spinach stalk (bolting). Photo By Shelley Moore. 

According to the book, it also taught us to “harvest the entire crop at the first sign of bolting by using a sharp knife to cut through the main stem just below the soil surface.” 

cutting down spinach 
Cutting the spinach plant off. Photo By Shelley Moore. 

Okay, well, our cutting of the plant wasn’t really at the first sign of bolting, but we took down the crops we had and salvaged what we could for eating. 

harvesting remaining spinach
Trimming off the usable spinach from the stalks. Photo By Shelley Moore.  
We wondered if a plant(s) would grow back because the roots were still in the soil. But it’s been almost a couple weeks and though I haven’t really checked, I don’t think anything will be emerging again from the garden box. And just now I read, again from the “Bible,” that “spinach seed doesn’t store well, so buy fresh seeds every year.” Not to mention what I wrote above about ‘sowing seeds.’ And I think in the beginning I was planning on planting successionally?  
So, yes, there will have to be more seeds planted! So much to think about, to question, to decide, to learn!  
But we are learning and hopefully gaining added verses to our own "personal garden knowledge Bible."
Even if it is something relatively easy (now) like recognizing a bolting spinach plant.