Spinach has a bad reputation due to being a pungent vegetable. The thing is, it doesn’t deserve that bad reputation. Firstly, spinach is a very healthy vegetable. It is rich in calcium, iron, and vitamin contents, making it a great addition to daily food. Secondly, it can be cooked into delicious food, especially if you have fresh spinach to work with.
And what is the better way to get fresh spinach than growing spinach in your own garden? Don’t know how to do it? No worries. We got you covered. Here in this article, we will tell you how to grow spinach from start to finish. We will also give you some tips to help you further. Ready? Let’s start.
- 1 About Spinach
- 2 Cultivars to Grow
- 3 Growing Spinach from Seed
- 4 Growing Spinach Indoors
- 5 Growing Spinach in Containers
- 6 Growing Spinach in Pots
- 7 How to Care Spinach
- 8 Harvesting
- 9 Storing
- 10 Pests and Diseases
- 11 Growing Spinach Tips
Spinacia oleracea, better known as spinach, is a cool-weather crop. It is an annual crop that yields nutrient-rich leaves to consume. Spinach, despite its bad reputation, actually tastes great be it eaten fresh or cooked. Since it is a cool-weather crop, it can withstand winter better than it can summer. Some cultivars, however, are heat resistant.
Spinach can be grown in the garden, indoors, or containers. Although the placement is different, the growing process is mostly the same with several small differences. Wherever it is grown, spinach requires rich, well-drained soil, regular and consistent watering, and fertilizing to grow optimally. As for exposure, spinach needs either partial shade or full sun.
Growing spinach is similar to growing lettuce. The growing requirements as well as conditions are very similar between the two. The difference, however, is in the processing of the harvest. Spinach is much more versatile when it comes to nutrition and consumption, unlike lettuce. It is worth noting that spinach is an amazing source of vitamins A, B, and C.
Cultivars to Grow
There are many spinach cultivars to Grow. The most common are America, Bloomsdale Long Standing, Giant Noble, Malabar spinach, New Zealand spinach, and Tyee. Each one of these cultivars has unique characteristics. To help you decide which cultivar to grow, we describe these cultivars briefly below. If this is your first time planting spinach, consider choosing a popular cultivar.
A cultivar that reaches maturity in approximately 52 days. America cultivar is quite tolerant of heat and and drought.
2. Bloomsdale Long Standing
This cultivar produces crinkled leaves that can be harvested as early as 43 days. Bloomsdale Long Standing is mosaic virus tolerant.
3. Giant Noble
Giant Noble grows rather quickly (approximately 45 days) and has a resistance to mosaic virus
This cultivar grows vigorous climbing zone. While other cultivars have little tolerance to heat, Maladabar can withstand hot summer weather.
5. New Zealand
Like Malabar spinach, New Zealand spinach can withstand hot summer weather.
Tyee can be harvest-ready as early as 37 days after planting. Tyee has a resistance to downy mildew.
Growing Spinach from Seed
1. When to plant
- This depends on in which season you want to plant. If you want to plant in the spring, plant the seeds immediately once the soil can be worked properly. To grow best from seeding to harvest, spinach needs about six weeks of cool weather.
- If in your region the winter is mild, you can plant spinach in the fall. Don’t plant the seeds until the soil temperature is cool enough.
- Spinach is a cool-weather crop. As such, it cannot grow in midsummer. If you are inclined to growing spinach for a summer harvest, consider Malabar or New Zealand Spinach cultivars.
2. Preparing the planting site
- Before growing spinach from seed, you must first find prepare the planting site. The ideal planting site is where the plant can get at least partial sun exposure and grow on well-drained soil.
- To give the plants a good start, apply aged manure to the soil just a week before planting.
- Soil with a temperature of no more than 70 degrees Fahrenheit is ideal for proper germination.
3. Planting the seed
- You can choose either growing spinach from seeds or plant them indoors then transplant the seedlings. We recommend the former. Transplanting spinach seedlings is difficult because spinach doesn’t like its roots disturbed.
- To plant spinach seeds, sow them in the soil between 1/2 and 1 inch deep. After sowing, cover the seeds lightly with soil.
- To give enough space for the plants, sow around 12 spinach seeds per foot of row. Alternatively, you can sprinkle the seeds over a wide row or planting bed.
- Water the seedlings well.
Growing Spinach Indoors
Some gardeners can’t grow spinach outdoors. If you can’t grow spinach outdoors for whatever reason, you can always grow them indoors. The growing process is mostly the same except you need containers and more watering frequency. Others, such as preparing well-drained, rich soil, keeping the temperature, caring, and harvesting are the same.
Growing spinach indoors is not without its benefits, of course. For example, you may be able to grow the plant in unideal times like in the winter. Also, since you are growing the plant indoors, there is no need to worry about the plants getting too much sun exposure. You can protect them from heat a lot easier.
Growing Spinach in Containers
If there isn’t enough space for growing spinach in your garden, you can opt for growing it in containers. When it comes to size, spinach is not demanding. You can grow spinach in a container as small as 10 to 12 inches. Growing it in a window box will do, too.
The most important thing to keep in mind is that containers dry out faster. As such, you will need to water the plant more frequently. Other than more frequent watering, growing spinach in containers is the same as in the ground. You can follow the rest of the guide above.
Growing Spinach in Pots
While growing spinach in the ground is ideal, sometimes we cannot afford to do so. For example, for reasons like limited space or there are too many rabbits nearby that may eat the plant. In that case, growing it in pots is a viable alternative. Below is how to do it.
- First, decide what kind of pot you will use for growing spinach. If you decide to grow in a small pot, choose an 8-inch pot, and grow a single plant in each pot. If you decide to grow in a large pot, plant it on 10-inch centers. Whichever pots you use, make sure they have good drainage.
- Then, do the same steps as you would when growing spinach in the ground. The differences lie in the watering frequency and thinning.
- Pots, like any other containers, dry out faster than the ground. As such, you will need to water the plants more frequently and keep the soil moist. While you need to water more frequently, avoid water stagnation.
- One more thing to keep in mind: temperature. Pots not only dry but also heat faster than the ground. Unless you are growing spinach cultivar that is heat resistant, keep your eye on the temperature as the plant is sensitive to heat.
- Depending on the type of pot you use for the plant, you may or may not need to thin out the plants. If you use larger pots, you will need to thin out so there is enough space between plants. If you use smaller pots where you plant one seed in a pot, thinning out is not necessary.
- During hot days, move the containers to a cooler spot.
How to Care Spinach
- Spinach grows best in soil with neutral pH. If the soil pH where you plant spinach is inadequate, use a supplement to improve it.
- Water regularly and consistently. Try to keep the soil moist.
- To help to keep the moisture in the soil, try mulching.
- When the spinach seedlings grow to about 2 inches, you can thin them out so they are 3 to 4 inches apart from each other.
- If your spinach is growing slowly, feed the plants with fertilizer to increase its growth rate.
- Being a cool-weather crop, spinach is quite tolerant of cold. In fact, it can withstand low temperature as low (as 15 degrees Fahrenheit) as well as a frost. That said, young spinach plants should be protected with cover as it is more tender.
- Spinach’s roots are sensitive. Try not to disturb them.
- Weeds compete with spinach for water and nutrition. To suppress weed growth, spread a light mulch of grass clippings, straw, or hay. If the weeds are already growing, remove them by cutting them at the soil level. Do not pull them out as doing so can harm spinach roots.
- Other than thinning, spinach plants don’t need cultivation. Spinach roots are not only shallow but also easily damaged.
- This is probably the part that you have been waiting for. Harvesting, unlike planting, has no exact date when to do. Not only that, but harvesting can also be done by picking the leaves, cutting the plants at the base, or picking the entire leaves. In short, you can harvest spinach in more ways than one.
- In general, it takes spinach between 4 and 6 weeks from seed to harvest. That being said, you can harvest spinach once the leaves reach the size you desire. For example, some gardeners harvest their spinach early because baby leaves have a milder flavor, some others prefer to wait a bit longer until the leaves are larger.
- One important thing to keep in mind is that the older a leaf is, the more bitter it will taste. So, it is better to harvest spinach earlier than later.
- When you harvest, start by cutting the outer older leaves. Don’t cut the young leaves. Instead, let them continue growing to maturity.
- You can encourage new leaves to grow for the second harvest by cutting the leaves about 3 inches above the soil.
- After harvesting, wash each and every spinach thoroughly. This is to remove any grit that may stick to crinkled leaves.
- Storing spinach inside the refrigerator can keep them for up to one week.
- Alternatively, you can store spinach by dried and frozen canned.
Pests and Diseases
Because spinach is grown when the weather is damp and cool, fungal diseases like downy mildew can be problems. To prevent downy mildew, provide enough space in-between plants so there is good air circulation in the planting site. There are pests like aphids, leaf miners, slug, and even rabbits that can damage your plant.
· Downy mildew
To prevent this fungal disease, prepare compost tea, and pour it inside a sprayer bottle. Then, spray-mist the spinach leaves.
To remove aphids, pick your hose and know them off with a strong water blast.
A common pest for spinach. Check the leaves for eggs and if you find any, crush them. If you found leaf miner tunnels on the leaves, destroy the affected leaves.
Slugs also like to eat spinach. To keep them away, create a diatomaceous earth barrier around the plants.
Rabbits are cute and all but they are not so cute when they eat your spinach. If you have rabbits, keep them away from your spinach planting site.
Growing Spinach Tips
- If you want the best harvest from your spinach, you need to give them a good start. That means preparing a well-drained soil that is rich with organic content. Applying fertilizer can help, too.
- When you are growing spinach, make sure to provide ample space in-between plants. Avoid overcrowding. Overcrowding the plants not just stunt their growth but also may encourage them to go bolt or go to seed.
- Spinach doesn’t like its roots disturbed. If weeds are growing, cut them to ground level and don’t pull them out. Mulching with grass, straw or hay can help suppress weeds as well.
- If you are growing spinach for your family, grow 15 spinach plants per family member.
- Spinach doesn’t like heat. However, there are cultivars like Malabar or New Zealand spinach that are heat tolerant. If you live in a region with hot summer, consider growing these cultivars.
In general, growing spinach is not difficult. This is especially true if you know how to do it properly. And now that you do, it should be a cinch. With well-drained soil, regular, consistent watering, protection against weather, pests, and diseases, your spinach should grow optimally. So, what do you think? Ready to grow your own spinach in the garden?