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How to Plant and Grow Spinach at Home (Indoors or Outdoors)

Tips and tricks to grow this delicious (and nutritious) garden green at home.

Spinach

Growing spinach (Spinacia oleracea) is a lot easier than you think! By choosing summer and winter varieties and planting both of them in your home garden, you can enjoy fresh spinach leaves all year round.

This mineral-rich, vitamin C powerhouse is one of the first short-season, cold-tolerant salad green to show in home vegetable plots.

It’s a gardener’s mainstay for spring and fall since warm temperatures and longer days will quickly trigger spinach to go to seed (bolt)

This minimal-fuss vegetable is great for beginners and experienced gardeners alike, and this complete guide to growing spinach will teach you everything you need to know to easily plant and grow them at home (in your yard or even indoors!).

Fun Fact: Several components of this palate-pleasing superfood — potassium, folate, and various antioxidants — provide neurological benefits to people who regularly consume them.

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Spinach

Spinach Seeds

Mineral-rich and a Vitamin C powerhouse, spinach can be sown early in the season.

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Botanical Name: Spinacia oleracea

Common Name: Spinach

Family: Amaranthaceae

Plant Type: Annual, vegetable

Hardiness Zones: 2 – 11 (USDA)

Sun Exposure: Full to partial sun

Soil Type: Well-draining, loamy, moist soil

Soil pH: 6.5 to 7.0

Maturity: 40 to 60 days

Quick Guide: Planting, Growing & Harvesting Spinach

  • Plant seeds in early spring
  • Will tolerate cold temperatures, but hates heat
  • Direct seed into well-nourished soil located in full sun to partial shade
  • Harvest by cutting off leaves when mature, around 40-60 days
  • Pests and diseases include flea beetles, aphids, downy mildew, white rust, and mosaic virus

Spinach Plant Care

Spinach grows best in cool weather, like lettuce, but it has more nutrients and can be eaten raw or cooked, making it a more versatile crop.

It is one of the richest sources of vitamins A, B, and C and is higher in iron, calcium, and vitamins than other cultivated greens.

Spinach can grow in full sun or partial shade, depending on the variety. About a week before planting, mix compost into the soil for the best results. You can also prepare the soil in late summer or early fall when spinach can be sown in mild climates.

Spinach will grow back after you cut it, and if you keep picking a few leaves at a time, it will keep growing more leaves until the end of the season.

Many people assume that spinach is a tricky plant to grow, but it is one of the easiest ones out there! Like beets, it is a crop that requires little attention once you have the basics right.

If you’ve ever wondered if spinach is straightforward to cultivate, the answer is yes. It, like beets, is a cool-weather crop that requires little attention.

If you choose the right types and varieties of spinach, you can grow it all year long, and it also does well in pots.

Growing spinach from seeds is the cheapest way to do it, but you can also buy transplants at local nurseries or online during the main growing seasons.

Light

Plant spinach in an area that receives full sun to partial shade. On most days, it requires at least three to four hours of direct sunlight, though it could benefit from afternoon shade as well.

In general, if you are planting winter cultivars of spinach in the fall, they require full sun to thrive. Summer varieties prefer partial shade because the scorching summer sun can burn the foliage.

Soil

Spinach prefers loamy, organically rich soil that drains well. It also prefers soil with a pH that is close to neutral.

Water

Frequently water spinach to maintain evenly moist soil that is not soggy. In warm weather, regular watering is necessary to avoid plants from “bolting” or producing flowers, as the leaves will become bitter if this occurs.

Typically, spinach need between 1 and 1 1/2 inches of water per week. It’s better to water several times a week than to water deeply once a week. Putting a layer of mulch around the plants can also help keep the soil from drying out and retain moisture.

Temperature and Humidity

Temperatures between 50 and 60 degrees Fahrenheit are ideal for growing spinach. Light frosts won’t harm the plant, but heavy freezes will. Additionally, hot temperatures will cause it to bolt and wilt the remaining leaves.

As long as soil moisture requirements are maintained and there is adequate air circulation around plants, humidity is rarely a problem.

Fertilizer

Spinach is a heavy feeder since it grows so quickly. When planting, follow the label’s directions and incorporate a nitrogen-rich fertilizer into the soil. This will encourage the growth of healthy foliage.

Follow the directions on the package to keep fertilizing throughout the season. For organic spinach, fish emulsion and soy meal are both good options.

Pruning

The best way to prune a spinach plant to maintain its strength is to harvest the leaves frequently throughout the growing season.

Keep in mind that if your plant suffers from any plant diseases or pests, it’s usually recommended to remove the entire plant so that it doesn’t infect the surrounding plants.

Varieties of Spinach You Can Grow

Spinach varieties include savoy, semi-savoy, and flat-leafed varieties, each with many cultivars. Let’s look at each of them in more detail:

Savoy Spinach

Savoy Spinach grows well and does better in cold than most other types of spinach. However, it has leaves that are deeply crinkled and grows slowly. This makes it hard to clean the leaves, particularly in silty soils where sand spills onto the leaves.

Regiment: This variety produces a high yield and has deep green leaves that’ll be tender even when they grow large. It’s also resistant to mildew.

Bloomsdale: This is a classic variety that’s known for its thick leaves. It handles cold better than other varieties making it a good option if you live in a colder area. Bloomsdale also produces large yields in early summer but bolting can be an issue. This variety overwinters well.

Semi-Savoy Spinach

Semi-Savoy spinach types offer easier-to-wash leaves and a more upright habit that reduces the likelihood of mud splashes. Plus, they tend to be more resistant to disease and bolting, making them an ideal option for growing spinach at home.

Tyee: This is a great variety that’s resistant to downy mildew and grows vigorously with upright growth, dark-green leaves, and even offers great resistance to bolting. This variety can be grown all year round in areas with mild winters. It’s also a good variety for fall planting.

Catalina: This variety has thick, spear-shaped leaves and offers moderate resistance to bolting.

Teton: As with other semi-savoy varieties, this one is also resistant to downy mildew and produces upright, deep green oven leaves. Although it bolts, it’s slow to it and can be handled easily.

Indian Summer: This is a three-season variety that’s best for spring, summer, and fall production. It featured flattened, semi-savoy leaves that have a smooth-leaf-like appearance. It’s also slow to bolt. This is a good variety for fall planting.

Smooth-Leafed Spinach

Smooth-leafed spinach is the most popular variety for processed spinach because its flat, smooth leaves are simpler to clean. So if you plan on storing yours in the freezer or processing them, this is a good type to go for.

Space: This is a downy mildew-resistant variety that bolts slower than other smooth-leafed varieties.

Red Cardinal: This variety has red veins in the leaves and the stems are of deep red color, similar to beet leaves. When picked as baby greens, they are a lovely addition to a salad, but they must be harvested quickly because they bolt more quickly than any type of green-leafed spinach varieties.

How to Plant and Grow Spinach

Site Preparation

Spinach requires full sun and regular water and should be planted in rich, loose soil. Before planting, work in 10-15 pounds of organic compost per 100 sq. ft. to a depth of 8 inches.

Work the soil thoroughly, taking care to break up any large clumps. Rocks should be removed from the planting area. Add a source of organic nitrogen, such as blood meal or alfalfa meal to develop large, deep dark-green leaves.

How to Plant Spinach

Sow spinach seeds directly into the ground, 1/2 inch deep in early spring or late fall. Thin seedlings to 6 inches apart when they are 4 to 5 inches tall.

Spinach plants like water, so keep the soil evenly moist, but not wet. Constant moisture promotes rapid growth and helps prevents bolting. Mulching with compost will help deter weeds and prevent moisture loss. Fertilize with fish emulsion or other organic fertilizer when plants have four true leaves.

Tip: To speed germination, soak seeds for 15-20 minutes in a liquid kelp solution or compost tea.

How to Grow Spinach Indoors

Growing spinach indoors on a windowsill is simple. Place your spinach plants near your indoor herb garden so you can tend to both at once.

As there are less hours of sunlight in the fall, position the pots on a windowsill that receives more sunlight. Avoid exposing the plants to extreme temperatures, such as placing them immediately above a radiator.

If you’re growing spinach in the spring, make sure it gets some shade.

Plant spinach seeds 1/2 inch deep and 3 inches apart in a pot that’s at least 6 inches deep. Be sure to water the spinach plants well, but don’t let the soil get too wet.

Harvesting and Storage

Harvest spinach when leaves are young or allow it to mature and harvest outer leaves. Plants will reach maturity 40 to 60 days after direct seeding.

Harvest young, tender leaves before it gets too hot. Summer heat will cause bitter leaves and bolting. Cover with shade cloth and water frequently if temperatures exceed 80˚F.

You can harvest summer spinach varieties from May to October, depending on the area you live in and the climate conditions. Winter varieties can be harvested between October and April.

So, with the right combination of varieties, and the right plant care, you can grow spinach year-round, making it a great annual vegetable that’s rich in nutrients and tastes great too!

Spinach is an extremely hardy plant, and can be harvested as late as December in many areas and will overwinter in warmer locations. If you use a cold frame, you can harvest it almost all year long.

For the best taste and flavor, pick in the early morning, rinse and eat fresh, or refrigerate immediately. Store, loosely packed in plastic bags, in the vegetable crisper.

Seed Saving Instructions

Spinach will cross-pollinate with wind-blown pollen from other varieties. Commercial seed crops are separated by 5 to 10 miles to ensure purity, but backyard gardeners can reduce that distance.

Harvest seeds when they are completely dry on the plant. It may be necessary to wear garden gloves because the seed can be very prickly

Companion Plants for Spinach

Spinach is also a fast grower, therefore when choosing companion plants, pair it with slower-maturing crops like tomatoes and peppers. In this manner, the plants that mature later will have space to grow after the slower-growing spinach is harvested.

Spinach grows well with beans and peas as companion plants. In addition to adding nitrogen to the soil, legumes also help provide shade to the spinach plants and prevent it from bolting.

Other vegetables and fruits that are great companion plants for spinach include cabbage, cauliflower, onions, chard, and strawberries.

Common Pests and Plant Disease for Spinach Plant

Floating row covers can be used when temperatures are cool to protect spinach from many caterpillars and beetle species. Remove covers as soon as temperatures begin to warm.

Keep an eye out for flea beetles early in the gardening season. They are small (1/10 inch long), shiny, dark brown, or black beetles that damage plants by chewing numerous small holes in the leaves.

Occasional aphids may attack, however, this will typically occur later in the season when the plant is less appealing.

Downy mildew, mosaic virus, and white rust are three common foliar diseases. Select resistant varieties, provide plenty of air circulation, and water in the morning to help prevent fungal problems.

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