How to Grow Spinach
and Tips for Growing Spinach
Learn how to grow spinach and find out which spinach varieties are best for your neck of the woods. Also, harvesting spinach seeds does require knowing if your plant is male or female.
One of the main tips for growing spinach successfully is choosing the right time of the year to start planting your spinach seeds.
Planting spinach at the wrong time can result in a very short season or even total failure. There are certain spinach varieties that like cold weather and others that prefer warmer weather.
Learn how to grow spinach and enjoy this very nutritious leafy green that is full of important minerals plus essential vitamins.
Tips for Growing Spinach
Spinach seeds germinate well in cool soil, so growing spinach is best done in cooler months or temperatures.
Since both hot weather and long days trigger spinach to bolt or send up a seed stalk, the secret to "how to grow spinach" is to start planting spinach seeds as soon as possible in the spring or wait until the fall.
How to Grow Spinach during Winter - Spinach can tolerate light frosts with ease and if you plant a late fall crop - you can even mulch it over with hay during winter for a very early crop to begin next spring.
In places where the soil doesn't get too cold, growing spinach in the winter months of January, February or March is very possible.
How to Grow Spinach during Summer - In warmer months or climates, make sure you are planting spinach in the shade or choose spinach varieties that can tolerate the heat.
Spreading a light mulch will help to suppress weeds and help retain more moisture in the soil.
Basics of How to Grow Spinach:
- Plant spinach in nitrogen-rich, well-drained soil that is not too acidic and is able to retain moisture
- Space your spinach seeds 2 to 4 inches apart depending on the type of spinach you are planting
- Cover your seeds with 1/4 to 1/2 inch of soil or compost, pat it down to make sure seeds are in contact with soil
- Water to start the germination process and keep in mind that spinach likes moist soil - not waterlogged soil
- Spinach grows well in partial to full sun and germination will take place in approx. 7 to 14 days
Overcrowding can stunt growth and encourage spinach plants to go to seed. If planting your seeds close together, after the seeds become seedlings - thin your plants to allow the necessary space for them to grow.
Also, spinach is a heavy feeder and growing spinach will require some sort of nitrogen rich fertilizer during the growing season.
Spinach will be ready to harvest in approx. 40 to 50 days depending on the variety and you can plant spinach successively to get a continual harvest.
Planting Spinach in Containers
You can start planting spinach early in the season indoors about 3 to 6 weeks before the last frost-free day in your area.
Then you can transplant your seedlings to a container of your choice - just make sure the container is large enough.
Rabbits and other four-legged creatures seem to like spinach too. They will have a much harder time reaching your spinach plants if you grow them in pots that are placed on your deck or rooftop.
Spinach varieties vary in size, shape, and texture of the leaves. There are even a couple of varieties that can withstand high temperatures.
Malabar Spinach - a very warm weather plant that is a fast growing vine with very fleshy thick leaves. Even though Malabar resembles regular spinach especially when cooked, it is not considered a true spinach.
Malabar spinach is from India and will need a trellis to help reach its full potential. Its large green leaves can be eaten raw or cooked.
New Zealand Spinach - this plant grows wide instead of tall and will spread out by at least 2 feet. Plant this type of spinach in the warm time of the year when regular spinach will not grow.
Leaves are triangular in shape and smaller compared to regular spinach leaves. They are also succulent and somewhat fuzzy.
Although, New Zealand spinach is not a true spinach it can be eaten like regular spinach.
Bloomsdale Spinach - this spinach is an heirloom variety of spinach. Its leaves have a dark green color and are crinkled. Its sweet tasting crunchy leaves will make a great spinach salad.
This plant has moderate bolt resistance and does really well in the colder months.
Harvesting Spinach Leaves
Leaves can be harvested whenever they look big enough to eat or when your plants have at least 5 to 6 full sized leaves.
You can then pinch or cut off individual leaves, but make sure to leave at least a quarter of your plant - so that it can regenerate.
Also, be sure to pick the leaves on the outside of your plant and leave the inner leaves alone.
Spinach can also be harvested using the "Cut and Come Again" method. Just cut approx. 1 inch above the soil line and plants should regrow for another cutting or two.
By harvesting with one of these methods, you will extend the period in which your plant produces leaves before it sends up a flower.
However, you may want to uproot the whole plant at the 2nd or 3rd cutting if warm weather starts approaching or you can let your plant go to seed.
Harvesting Spinach Seeds
Make sure to select an heirloom variety when planting spinach seeds or you may end up with sterile male plants. Also, be careful of growing more than one type of spinach as different spinach varieties may cross pollinate in your garden.
Spinach plants produce separate male and female plants. Only the females have seeds and one female plant can produce hundreds of seeds for future plantings.
The female plant will have longer round shaped green balls and if you see little yellow balls - that's a male plant.
It is best to allow your spinach plants to dry out in the soil if at all possible. Then remove your plant from the garden - discarding any male plants.
You can also completely dry your female plants upside down in a dry location and then loosen seeds in a big paper bag.
Make sure to remove as much debris as possible and store spinach seeds in a cool dry area.
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