Monday, January 9, 2012
Nip it in the bud
While I was happily admiring the basil and enjoying its beautiful scent, Melanie suggested that instead of just daydreaming may be I should nip off the buds. Not questioning her divine knowledge of cause, but “Why?” I asked. She explained it was her understanding that it would give us a bigger, longer lasting, better tasting plant. It is our experience that when plants used for their leaf bolt to flower and then seed they become quite bitter tasting, tall and lanky. But would nipping off the flowering buds actually stop this from happening? I wondered. Again not at all questioning Melanie’s wisdom, but purely for the purpose of expanding it, I did a bit of web research.
What I found was inconclusive. It does appear to be common knowledge that nipping buds prevents/delays bolting, but there are a number of comments online from gardeners who have found this to not be true. What’s been your experience?
Out of interest, from my research I also discovered that the bitterness produced comes from the production of bitter alkaloids. The theory being that this is the plant attempting to protect its flowers, seed and fruit from pests. I must admit it works on me. Lettuces that do this in my garden do tend to get left alone. Apparently not all plants do it i.e spinach. So far I haven’t noticed any undesirable change in flavour of our basil so hopefully basil is also one of them.