Spinach flourishes in cool weather. It grows fast into rosette shape with oval green leaves. Many of us, who grow spinach in balcony/roof top may have encountered spinach developing a tall stem. This phenomenon is known as bolting.
What does bolted spinach look like?
The main stem of bolted spinach elongates and forms clusters of flower buds. Leaves on bolted spinach are triangular or arrowhead-like shape instead of oval. Also, there are fewer leaves on this stem compared to the leaves on its rosette form.
Is it consumable?
These leaves develop a very sharp bitter taste. This makes it inedible. This is a serious problem for anyone who is growing spinach for consumption and not for generating seeds.
Why does Spinach bolt?
While developing seeds is the end-part of maturity of plants, early flowering is a problem. Following are a few factors which may cause a Spinach plant to bolt.
- Moisture Stress: Spinach should be watered regularly. It grows to its fullest, if the grow medium is moist and well drained. Drought like conditions can make it bolt in order to reproduce.
- High temperature: Spinach enjoys an outside temperature to the max of around 23°C. High temperatures and sunlight for more than 12 hours a day can make spinach bolt due to temperature stress
- Crowding of roots: Planting many spinach plants very close to each other can overcrowd the roots. Spinach plants should be planted with a distance of minimum 20cm between two. This will help roots to breathe and spread properly. Also, leaves can grow to its full length with this arrangement.
How to prevent bolting?
- Grow bolt resistant variety: Correnta , Spinner and Tyee are some of the varieties of spinach which can tolerate heat for long time. Growing such varieties will provide protection against premature flowering.
- Water: Water spinach plants regularly to prevent moisture stress. But take care that water is drained properly leaving the grow-medium just moist.
- Temperature: Grow spinach under shade. Plant it under taller plants.
- Spacing: Keep space of minimum 20 cm between two spinach plants to avoid overcrowding.
What can be done with bolted spinach?
- Seeds can be collected and used for next cycle.
- Cut spinach at the lower section just above the base. The spinach will re-grow.
- As soon as you notice spinach bolt, cut out the leaves immediately for consumption. If the spinach has bolted before it could grow to its fullest, then small leaves can still be used in soups.
Gaurav is an entrepreneur whose first Start-up was focused on providing services to patients suffering from Chronic Diseases. While researching about the causes of lifestyle diseases and the ways to reduce their incidence, he chanced upon the idea of growing healthy and nutritious food using advanced farming techniques.
He founded CityGreens with a mission to enable City Dwellers to access Safe, Healthy and Fresh food.