Bolting occurs when a plant begins to flower and set seed too early. It cuts down on vegetable production and is mainly seen as a negative occurrence, but by a happy accident not to me.
We have had unusually hot weather in Central Oregon this summer. Since I am in the high desert and have a mini growing season compared to my home state of California, every day of sun and growing is precious. Due to the extra heat a few of my plants have been bolting already.
I used to get so disappointed when I would see the sturdy shoots coming out of the center of the veggies and herb plants. Until Last summer when I was on the hunt to add some interesting things to a salad I was making, purely out of curiosity I started trying some of the flowers from a radish that was going to seed.
To my surprise they were not only very pretty but also delicious and had a slightly softer flavor than the radishes. Since then, everything that bolts get used in salads!
Another side effect of snipping off flowers from bolting plants is in some plants such as basil it can be reversing, like dead heading roses, they just keep growing those delicious basil leaves.
Below is an image of one of my cilantro plants, a relative to celery, parsley, and carrots, also known as Chinese parsley. The leaves are called cilantro and the Coriandrum sativum seeds are called coriander. Last year I harvested a bunch of the seeds and I was hunting around for some coriander seeds for a new recipe and was very happy to come across my little stash right from my garden.
Please be sure to research flowers before you just start munching on them, some are toxic. be ware that the purple Lobelia shown with the basil in certain doses is toxic.
So don’t panic about the bolting in your garden and enjoy those tasty delicate flowers!
I hope you will be excited to see your plants bolting now or at least find a bit of solace in knowing it can be a beautiful, useful and delicious treat.
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Have fun creating beautiful things and eating them!