Sunday, 22 May 2011
It was the driest April since records began and in London and the southeast the dry has continued into May. This is very serious for farmers (and us all, as food prices will go up further still) and my bolting spinach is hardly a big deal by comparison. Bolting is a plant's response to dryness or a sudden change in temperature. The plant aims to flower and set seed before it dies. A flowering spike shoots up, often in the space of a couple of days, in a pre-programmed last ditch response to drought. Spinach is prone to bolting, even if you think you're watering carefully, and it's worth looking for bolt-resistant varieties. Typically you sow in early spring and again from August to avoid the dry season. Anyway, I've lost this lovely variety (from a seed swap, no label, forgotton the name) which was pretty, unusual with its sagittate leaves and tasty.
Nothing to do but take the remaining leaves and toss with a dressing and baby broad beans. I have sown Florence fennel in its place - also a notorious bolter - but May/June is the time to sow in this case to as cold is the bigger trigger to bolting.