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When greens bolt

Jun 12, 2011

Yes, this is the end of a good thing.  But really its also the start of another really good thing.  Depending on the green, you will need to catch this right before or right after the bolting happens.  For mild lettuces, I try to harvest when the center of the head starts to look even a little like it might start to grow vertical.  For spicy greens like Arugula and Mustards, I think you're OK as long as you catch them just as they start to bolt, but wait too long and any green will just be too bitter.

Here's the bonus, if you have the space, leave a few plants and let them go completely to seed for harvest later.  Then you get more of a good thing by harvesting and saving the seeds for next year, and sometimes the seeds will even reseed themselves for a fall or winter harvest.  Double bonus!


I have done this with cabbage, collards & radishes, it works well for me.
I've been sauteing my overgrown spicy greens with onions for breakfast. (Fried egg on top.) Their also great with ginger, garlic, soy sauce and sesame oil.
Where I grew up, when the short Galveston winter turned into summer overnight and our leaf lettuce began to bitter and bolt, my mother made my favorite salad of torn leaf lettuce, banana, and sweetened sour cream for dressing. My new favorite salad involves sharply flavored greens including oriental mustard, arugula and endive, in any stages of pre- and post-bolt, perhaps with a little imported-from-cooler-places mild store-bought lettuce mixed in if others will be joining me, liberally topped with diced ripe pears, blue-veined cheese crumbles, and maple-sweetened vinagrette. This may be my rebellion against the bland iceberg lettuce salads that seemed were all that were available in my early years, but I love the way the sweet mellows the sharp flavors, even through the ongoing taste riot on the palate.
That sounds delicious. I will try it. We really like a greens breakfast with spinach, arugula, or chard. We crack an egg in an over proof bowl and add chopped herbs, usually thyme and oregano and then a splash of cream and a little grated parmasean. You broil this for 3-5 min, until the egg has solidified some, then spoon over the greens, which will wilt them just a bit.
This past spring my Lacinato Kale bolted and I decided to let the best looking plants go to seed. I ended with a nice plate of seeds, a few years worth. I like letting vegetables flower. If you have room, it's good for the garden ecology, and maybe I'm crazy but I just like the flowers.

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