Bolting Radishes #381065 - Ask Extension

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Bolting Radishes #381065

Asked January 03, 2017, 4:23 PM EST

My husband and I have built a greenhouse and I love it even though it is a learning experience.  I have planted German Giant Radishes 3 times in my planter boxes and they sprout quickly, grow 4 inches tall in a week and lay over and never make radishes,  What is the problem?  My lettuce did the same.  Help!!!

Howard County Texas

Expert Response

Thanks for the question.  Plants that tend to bolt usually do so when warmer soil temperatures and or increased exposure to light triggers chemical changes.  Once they begin to bolt, it can't be reversed. They are usually inedible once they begin to bolt.

Bolting may be prevented by controlling soil temperature or light exposure.  By planting very late in the summer or early spring, cool season vegetables will be more productive and produce their best flavor.  Many cool season plants thrive best when soil temps are in the 50's and days are short.

Another way to control soil temperature is to water regularly and cover the soil with an organic mulch such as shredded wood, straw or pine needles.  Many people express a concern with the possibility of introducing pests or diseases to their plants with mulches, and while this has been documented it is very rare.  Research has repeatedly demonstrated the advantages of water conservation, weed suppression, and temperature moderation far outweighs any perceived risks.  

Regular watering does not mean keeping the soil soaked at all times.  Rather it means to water consistently, using about the same amount of high quality (low salt) water each time you irrigate.  Many cool season plants perform well in soil that remains about as wet as a very well wrung-out sponge.    

If your greenhouse can be managed to recreate these favored conditions, you should be able to improve the productivity of your cool season vegetables.
Jeff Floyd Replied January 07, 2017, 9:01 AM EST

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