Stop your plants from feeling ‘seedy’
seeds on maturity.Without rain or irrigation, the soil dries and the plant responds by becoming mature, flowering and setting seed before it dies.
When annuals encounter stress or checks while growing, they react to the threat by going to seed. Gardeners call this ‘‘bolting’’. ‘‘Bolt resistant’’ plants will tolerate a bit of stress before they go to seed.
Some vegetables are quite prone to bolting unless the growing conditions are perfect from the time they germinate to the point of maturity. Pak choy for instance, bolts at the merest growth check.These growth checks can be caused by conditions becoming too dry, too hot, too cold, too soft or by insufficient direct sunlight.
Those growing their own seedlings need to give them optimum growing conditions and then prick them out without damaging the roots after ‘‘hardening off’’.
Hardening off is most important. When plants are grown under controlled conditions in a glasshouse, their foliage is soft, and if shoved straight out into the real world the seedlings are likely to die or suffer stress.
To overcome this, commercially produced seedlings are transferred to special houses where they are protected but gradually exposed to the elements.
It’s something to be aware of when buying plants. When seedlings reach a retail outlet they are often placed under cover where they can become soft again. As these seedlings are bigger with larger root
‘‘When plants are grown under controlled conditions in a glasshouse, their foliage is soft, and if shoved straight out into the real world the seedlings are likely to die or suffer stress.’’