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Bolting Brassicas

June 9th, 2012

This spring has been HOT, HOT, HOT here in NE Ohio. We’ve already had days in the 90’s and next week looks to be just as hot. We never really have a spring as most people think of it, we go from winter directly into summer here. It makes growing brassicas a bit of a challenge. These little napa cabbages never had a chance. I planted in a raised bed in the back where they get some shade, but that wasn’t quite enough.

I suppose I could still harvest some of the leaves, but I decided to pull them all out and use them as mulch instead. They were replaced with celery, which will come in handy when making quarts of my homemade tomato soup.

In the Midwest, growing brassicas can be challenging. This year a few of my broccoli plants produced nice heads and the ones that started producing after the heat stroke hit are producing little button heads instead.

Of course that’s what we get when we try to grow things outside of their comfort zones, so we take a risk and roll the dice on what kind of summer we’ll have. Tomatoes and peppers don’t like the cold, brassicas and peas don’t like the heat. Different varieties also fare differently in weather extremes, thus it’s worthwhile to try a few different kinds. I have one type of broccoli that’s definitely weathering the heat better than the other. I bet the other one does better as a fall crop.

The beautiful thing is, I can simply pull out the bolting brassicas and replace them with something that’s going to LOVE the hot dry summer ahead – like peppers, tomatoes and squash. Sometimes it’s best to go with the flow and take advantage rather than trying to fight it! Looks like my pantry will be stuffed with lots of fire roasted peppers for the winter!

Are there any plants that you would love to grow but can’t because of the zone/climate you live in?

20 Comments to “Bolting Brassicas”
  1. kristin @ going country on June 9, 2012 at 6:14 am

    Citrus. How I miss the tangerine tree from my house in Arizona.

    Reply to kristin @ going country's comment

  2. jennifer fisk on June 9, 2012 at 6:39 am

    Sweet potatoes don’t grow very well here and I love them. On the other hand, brassicas do very well in our cooler climate. We usually have cool wet springs and the broccoli is loving it.

    Reply to jennifer fisk's comment

  3. tami on June 9, 2012 at 7:13 am

    I was just whining about this very thing! Attack of the SVB’s this year …again! We’re usually very hot here. Now we’re having an Ohio Summer, cool and wet. Everything is slow going. I love all brassicas but have NO luck with them here in NC. But I bet I’d have done great with them THIS year…sigh.

    Reply to tami's comment

  4. Peggy on June 9, 2012 at 9:08 am

    I miss all the brassicas and the spinach we grew in Alaska… now in Indiana we have having insanely hot summers (even for this area..) About to pull the lettuce and use it as mulch because it is so bitter (and my family doesn’t care for bitter.)

    Reply to Peggy's comment

  5. Allison on June 9, 2012 at 9:10 am

    No sun here. We’ve just had rain for the last two weeks. It makes me worried about diseases and bugs breeding. Our tomatoes have not grown, but our onions and brassicas are really happy. Do you have any tips for celery? I grew it from seed, but is just stops growing at a point and dies. I only have two left.

    Reply to Allison's comment

    • Susy on June 9, 2012 at 9:31 am

      I don’t know if I have any tips for celery. It likes lots of moisture and is a heavy feeder. I add extra chicken manure in the bed I’ll be planting celery in and make it gets a lot of water several times a well. I also try to plant it in a cooler shadier part of the garden, usually in the shade of tomatoes or other tall plants.

      Reply to Susy's comment

  6. Amy on June 9, 2012 at 9:17 am

    We have a hard time with tomatoes here in Western WA, and peppers absolutely can’t be grown outside of a greenhouse. Our cool late spring weather here continues. Yesterday we had a ten-minute torrential downpour and I was nervous to go out and see how the seedlings fared. Nothing damaged, thankfully, and to my surprise, the lettuce seeds I planted throughout several seeds sprouted sometime between leaving for work (6:30 a.m.) and evening (6:00 p.m.).

    This weekend we’re going to spread plastic over the hoops in our tomato bed and see how the plants do with a little extra heat (and less rain exposure). I wonder if your brassicas might do better with shade cloth spread over your hoops?

    Reply to Amy's comment

    • Susy on June 9, 2012 at 9:29 am

      I think if I had deep rich soil I could use shade cloth to eek out some brassicas, but I think the heat coupled with our lean sandy dry soils make it extra difficult. My mom has lovely rich soil and her brassicas do OK when planted in the cool spot in the shade.

      Reply to Susy's comment

  7. elizabeth on June 9, 2012 at 11:05 am

    I can grow napa cabbage all summer long, its the heat loving crops I have problems with. I’ll be happy later this month when we get out of the 30’s at night and things start really growing. For now I’m loving the tender lettuces and green garlic. I noticed you have a lot of bug damage on those plants, could you cover the bed with a lightweight row cover? The row covers really help me, leaf miners would ruin my beet greens, etc., if I didn’t use them.

    Reply to elizabeth's comment

  8. Maybelline on June 9, 2012 at 12:10 pm

    I would love to be able to grow lettuce in the summer ala Salinas; but I must resign myself to the fact that I can only grow it 3/4 of the year.

    Reply to Maybelline's comment

    • Maybelline on June 9, 2012 at 12:13 pm

      Peonies. Peonies would also be great.

      Reply to Maybelline's comment

  9. Rhonda on June 9, 2012 at 1:03 pm


    Reply to Rhonda's comment

  10. Alyssa on June 9, 2012 at 1:31 pm

    oh my gosh, I’d give up spring for summer any day! Here in southern BC (near vancouver) we usually miss summer altogether, sliding from spring to fall with a few days over 30 degrees (90F) in late August. So no peppers here, ever. It’s still cold in June, we’ve had rain for the last 8 months and the hottest day of the year so far has been 20 C (70F). I always wish for sun. Glad to hear the sun is our where you live!

    Reply to Alyssa's comment

  11. tj on June 9, 2012 at 1:33 pm

    …Holy Bolting Brassicas Batman! *giggle* ;o)

    …I dunno why I said that up there, it’s the first thing that came to my mind when I read the title. I can’t help myself. *sigh*

    …Yeah, we’re having hot and very, very dry conditions here. Our ground has cracks in it that are unbelievable. We so need rain and now. I shudder to think that this is how this Summer is gonna be but what can I do about it? Nothin’. Oh well. *shrug*

    …Peppers are looking wonderful Susy! I’ve saved your Tomato Soup recipe and am gonna give it a whirl this Fall.

    …Enjoy your day you two!

    …Blessings :o)

    Reply to tj's comment

  12. KimH on June 9, 2012 at 1:48 pm

    For me, this was the hottest & driest spring I’ve experience since I moved to NE Ohio 14 years ago. Usually spring hangs on and is cold & damp well into May and the beginning of June. Not this year. It was beating records in March & April.. which was nice, but not normal weather for this part of the country.

    The three things I have the worst time with are
    1. Okra- not hot enough, long enough- gonna try again this summer
    2. Sugar snap peas- I cant get into my garden early enough I think, and it closes too early to put a fall crop in,
    3. Figs-however, I just ordered a Chicago Hardy Fig a couple days ago, and Im hoping & praying it will do wonderfully here by the lake. We’re just in an awesome little micro-climate and I dont have room for much, but I’d get rid of most everything for fresh home grown figs again..

    Reply to KimH's comment

    • Susy on June 10, 2012 at 8:33 am

      A hardy chicago does very well here at Chiot’s Run, we too have a microclimate living on top of a hill by a lake. We don’t get late spring or early fall frosts.

      Reply to Susy's comment

  13. Domestic Executive on June 9, 2012 at 4:29 pm

    It drives me crazy when my brassicas bolt. I shall try and have an attitude a little like yours next time :o)

    Reply to Domestic Executive's comment

  14. Stone Soup on June 11, 2012 at 6:22 am

    Seriously 90’s? Oh . . . it’s still cold here in Maine. It’s been rainy, wet and in the 50’s. Yes 50’s for days on end! Yesterday was actually beautiful and in the low 70’s. Just waiting for the bugs . . .I could actually skip springs like this and move right to summer! NO MORE RAIN! lol

    Reply to Stone Soup's comment

  15. Jaye Whitney on June 12, 2012 at 1:07 pm

    When you put in your squash, do you have trouble with squash bugs? If so, I would appreciate any suggestions you might have. Or, if you’ve posted on it previously..?

    Reply to Jaye Whitney's comment

  16. Stephanie on June 22, 2012 at 7:10 am

    I have the same trouble here in WV. My problem is I usually can’t get my cool weather crops in early enough in the spring. Heavy clay and spring mean wet wet garden. I’ve found my Brassicas do much better in the fall. I started planting fall crops in late July.

    Reply to Stephanie's comment

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This is a daily journal of my efforts to cultivate a more simple life, through local eating, gardening and so many other things. We used to live in a small suburban neighborhood Ohio but moved to 153 acres in Liberty, Maine in 2012.

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