If you're short on garden space but committed to eating a healthy, balanced diet and would like to take part in growing your own produce, container gardening is the answer. Almost anything that grows in a garden can be grown in a container. Growing spinach in containers is an easy, nutrient-rich, fast-growing crop to start with. Read on to find out how to grow spinach in containers and the care of spinach in pots.
How to Grow Spinach in Containers
Spinach, for good reason, is Popeye’s favorite food, boosting his strength and energy. Dark leafy greens, such as spinach, contain not only iron, but vitamins A and C, thiamin, potassium, folic acid, as well as the carotenoids lutein and zeaxanthin. These carotenoids keep eyes healthy, reducing the risk of macular degeneration and cataracts as you age. The antioxidants, vitamins A and C, help maintain a healthy cardiovascular system, reducing the risk of heart attack and stroke while folic acid shows promise in reducing the risk of certain cancers. Plus, spinach tastes good and is so versatile it can be used in a multitude of dishes either fresh or cooked. Growing spinach in a pot or other container is ideal. It allows you to harvest all of the delicious leaves for yourself before some other four-legged critter dines on your greens before you get to them. Growing spinach in a pot will also thwart nematodes and other soil borne pests and diseases. Container grown spinach is easily accessible too. It can be grown on the window sill, right outside the kitchen door or on a balcony. It's easier to harvest and eat fresh greens when they are practically right in front of you. Spinach only takes between 40-45 days to reach harvesting potential. This often allows for successive plantings depending upon your climactic region. Spinach is a cool-season crop and tends to bolt in warmer temps and is most suited to USDA zones 5-10. Provide the plants shade if temperatures exceed 80 F. (26 C.). A huge bonus of container grown spinach is that it can be easily moved around. Also, look for varieties that can take the heat if you live in a warmer region. Spinach can be grown from seed or starts. Some of the smaller varieties of spinach, such as ‘Baby’s Leaf Hybrid’ and ‘Melody,’ are particularly suited to container growing. Plant your container grown spinach in pots that are 6-12 inches (15-30 cm.) across in soil amended with compost to aid in water retention and place in full sun. The soil pH should be around 6.0 to 7.0. Sow seeds one inch (3 cm.) apart indoors and about three weeks before transplanting them outside. When they are 2 inches (5 cm.), thin them to 2-3 inches (5-8 cm.) apart. For transplants, set plants 6-8 inches (15-20 cm.) apart and water in well.
Care of Spinach in Pots
You can plant spinach alone or in conjunction with other plants with like requirements. Annuals, like petunias or marigolds, can be tucked in among spinach. Be sure to leave enough space for growth between the plants. The annuals will brighten up the container and as the weather warms and the spinach harvest comes to an end, continue to fill out the container. Parsley also likes to be kept cool, so it is a perfect companion to spinach as well. You could also teepee pole beans in the center of a large container and plant the spinach around it. As the spinach season wanes, the weather is warming and the pole beans begin to take off. Anything grown in a pot tends to dry out more quickly than in the garden. Spinach needs consistent moisture, so be sure to water frequently. Spinach is also a heavy feeder. Fertilize with a commercial food that contains plenty of nitrogen or use an organic fish emulsion or cottonseed meal. Initially, incorporate fertilizer into the soil prior to planting. Then feed the spinach after it has been thinned and again by side-dressing. Spread the fertilizer around the base of the plants and gently work it into the soil. Be careful, spinach has shallow roots that can be easily damaged.
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Amy Grant has been gardening for 30 years and writing for 15. A professional chef and caterer, Amy's area of expertise is culinary gardening.
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