This site is an archive of For the latest information about Susy and her adventrures, visit the Cultivate Simple site.
Thank you for all your support over the years!

Know When to Quit

March 26th, 2014

“A gracefully executed quit is a beautiful thing, opening up more doors than it closes.”

Kio Stark – Don’t Go Back To School: A Handbook for Learning Anything

5x5challenge wide
Today’s 5×5 Garden Challenge lesson is all about quitting or giving up on plants when the time has come!  As a gardner, you have to learn how to give up on something in the garden. If your tomatoes are starting to get blighted you must pull them up and dispose of them. If your lettuce is starting to bolt away it goes. Be ruthless about pulling plants that are past their prime and plant something else in their stead.
spinach harvest 2
This can be tough, especially if they start to bolt or get diseased before you get a harvest.  Learn to recognize the signs of bolting, plants sending up vertical growth, flower buds forming, bitterness, and others depending on the plant.   If a plant becomes diseased and it looks like it won’t pull through, pull it out!  You don’t want to risk disease spreading to other plants.  If one particular plant isn’t thriving while all the other are – away it goes.  Learning to be ruthless in the garden will save you lots of heartache.
bolting cabbage 2
This is something I always stubbled with in the beginning when I only had a small garden space. I wanted to eek a little more out of everything, but instead I ended up with vegetables that weren’t great and I wasted valuable time that could have been used for another crop.

Do you ever have issues pulling plants that are past their prime?

14 Comments to “Know When to Quit”
  1. daisy on March 26, 2014 at 5:59 am

    I’ve learned through my volunteering with a farmer that it’s better to just pull it and start something new in its place. If a plant doesn’t want to grow, something else will. It’s not personal. ;0)

    Reply to daisy's comment

  2. Linda on March 26, 2014 at 6:23 am

    Sometimes I have a problem with culling “used up” plants, but not too often. My biggest problem is thinning… ending the lives of all those potential veggies just because they’re too close together. Experience has taught me how necessary it is, but that doesn’t make it easier.

    Reply to Linda's comment

  3. Marina C on March 26, 2014 at 7:19 am

    I agree with Linda, it is hard to thin, but eating the thinnings in salads is often a nice option.
    Spent vegetables look less nice and are not longer tasty, so it is easier to put them on the compoist heap.
    My real problem is to put off harvesting beauce it looks so beautiful in the plot! That happens mostly with lettuces…
    Good thing I love salads so much, one a day eventually does get the chop.

    Reply to Marina C's comment

  4. Sara on March 26, 2014 at 7:33 am

    I definitely have that problem, especially when pulling plants for fall/winter crops. Less so with greens/bolting, as I have chickens, which helps me feel like they are going to waste, but pulling stragglers in the fall is harder for me somehow, especially if they are still producing somewhat.

    Reply to Sara's comment

  5. Nebraska Dave on March 26, 2014 at 8:44 am

    Susy, I always leave plants in the ground way too long. Maybe it’s because I, myself, am way past my prime and have a few aches and pains with wrinkle or two. Too much identification with the season of life for the plant. Nah, I think it’s just due to being lazy. When that time of the season rolls around the newness of the gardening has worn off and what was once a sweet time in the garden begins being just labor to keep the weeds down.

    Have a great garden preparation day.

    Reply to Nebraska Dave's comment

  6. Amy P on March 26, 2014 at 10:07 am

    Thanks for this quote, I stole it for my post today. I am in the process of leaving a job that I absolutely love for the complete unknown. This quote was perfectly timed and the parallels between what you had to say about the garden and what is going on in my life was so well timed it was like you were talking specifically to me. :) Thanks again, I needed to hear it.

    Reply to Amy P's comment

  7. Julie on March 26, 2014 at 10:57 am

    After the Spring lettuce bolts, I’m awful at ripping it up and putting in something heat tolerant.

    Reply to Julie's comment

  8. Susan on March 26, 2014 at 11:52 am

    I’m facing this exact dilemma now. I live in LA and so I can grow year round which is wonderful. But it really causes this exact problem. I’m ready to start putting in Summer but my Fall/Spring is still going. My biggest problem is often my husband, he really hates for me to pull out things that are still doing something. But I think I’m going to have to just bite the bullet and pull up what I need to in order to let the summer planting begin!

    Reply to Susan's comment

  9. Becky on March 26, 2014 at 1:20 pm

    I have a terrible time with this. I want to save every single plant and nurture it along as long as possible. Intellectually, I know it is a waste of time and space, but it is a compulsion. Reading posts like this help me work towards changing. Thank you!

    Reply to Becky's comment

  10. Jaye on March 26, 2014 at 5:01 pm

    This was an excellent post and I’ve never seen it covered before. Thank you Suzy!

    If it helps, always think of it as an extra boost for your compost or a treat for your chickens…that way nothing is wasted!

    Reply to Jaye's comment

  11. Tommy on March 26, 2014 at 5:43 pm

    So true! I hate pulling plants or admitting that the harvest is through because things have bolted!

    Reply to Tommy's comment

  12. Colleen on March 26, 2014 at 6:53 pm

    Oh yes…this is one of my worst gardening traits. As well as thinning seedlings, or not. I worked on this issue last year and im hoping this season will be better.

    Reply to Colleen's comment

  13. Shirl on March 26, 2014 at 6:56 pm

    the winter crops are our favorites but in Florida it doesn’t take long for the weather to get too hot for lettuce, mustard greens, and collards. Out they go and in with squash, zucchini, and our favorite eggplants.

    Reply to Shirl's comment

  14. Norma on March 30, 2014 at 2:08 am

    Like Susan, I live where you can grow plants year round and this has been a hard lesson for me to learn…….once Spring comes I must pull out all the cabbages, kale,sprouts, broccoli, cauliflower etc to stop white fly from reproducing! It’s just not worth it. A few years back I had huge tuscan kale that were lousy with them.

    Reply to Norma's comment


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.

Read previous post:
Maple and Mush

Last monday I finished my first batch of maple syrup and yesterday I finished my second. Both were two cups...