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Spinach

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

Spinach“I’m strong to the finich, ’cause I eats me Spinach, I’m Popeye the sailor man! (toot, toot).” ― Popeye

Mineral-rich and a vitamin C powerhouse, spinach (Spinacia oleracea) is one of the first short-season, cold-tolerant salad greens 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). Plus growing your own will give you the satisfaction of knowing that it’s free of pesticides and food-borne diseases (think e-coli), unlike the pre-wrapped, factory-foods found in the produce aisle of the supermarket.

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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Planet Natural offers heirloom spinach seeds that are non-treated, non-GMO and NOT purchased from Monsanto-owned Seminis. Planting instructions are included with each packet and shipping is FREE!

Quick Guide: Planting, Growing & Harvesting Spinach

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

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 green leaves.

How to Plant

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. SPlants likes 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.

Harvesting and Storage

Harvest spinach when leaves are young or allow 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.

Tip: An extremely hardy plant, spinach 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 best flavor, pick in the early morning, rinse and eat fresh, or refrigerate immediately. Store, loosely packed in plastic bags, in the vegetable crisper.

Insect & Disease Problems

Floating row cover can be used when temperatures are cool to protect spinach from many caterpillar 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 and mosaic virus are two common foliar diseases. Select resistant varieties, provide plenty of air circulation, and water in the morning to help prevent fungal problems.

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.

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3 Responses to “Spinach”

  1. Karen Hermansen on May 22nd, 2014 at 2:11 pm #

    I grow spinach every spring. I give it a little manure tea now and then. One of the best things to make with baby spinach is a green smoothie, with 8-10 oz of almond milk, a handful of WASHED baby spinach, a handful of FROZEN GREEN GRAPES, a little honey, and some chia seeds or ground flaxseed. Looks like pond scum, but tastes wonderful and is very healthy!

    • Karen S. on May 22nd, 2014 at 5:20 pm #

      Your smoothie sounds good! I grow spinach in the fall because it gets too hot here to grow it in the spring.

  2. John on September 10th, 2016 at 9:16 am #

    I love fresh spinach! Just be very careful with the type of bug spray you use around it or don’t use it at all!

    Karen & Karen I am not sure I could stand to drink something that looks like Pond scum but I think i’m gonna give it a shot, maybe I could dye it?

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