When it comes to vegetable gardening, spinach planting is a great addition. Spinach (Spinacia oleracea) is a wonderful source of Vitamin A and one of the healthiest plants that we can grow. In fact, growing spinach in the home garden is a great way to get plenty of iron, calcium and vitamins A, B, C and K. This nutrient rich green has been cultivated for over 2,000 years.
Read on to learn how to grow and plant spinach in the garden.
Before Growing Spinach
Before you jump into spinach planting, you’ll want to decide which type you’d like to grow. There are two typical types of spinach, savoy (or curly) and flat leaf. Flat leaf is most commonly frozen and canned because it grows more rapidly and is much easier to clean than savoy.
Savoy cultivars taste and look better, but their curly leaves make cleaning difficult as they tend to trap sand and dirt. They also keep longer and contain less oxalic acid than flat leaf spinach.
Look for disease resistant varieties to ward off rust and viruses.
How to Plant Spinach
Spinach is a cool weather crop that does best in the spring and fall. It prefers well-draining, rich soil and a sunny location. In regions of higher temperatures, the crop will benefit from some light shading from taller plants.
Soil should have a pH of at least 6.0 but, ideally, it should be between 6.5-7.5. Before spinach planting, amend the seed bed with compost or aged manure. Direct sow seeds when outdoor temperatures are at least 45 F. (7 C.). Space seeds 3 inches (7.6 cm.) apart in rows and cover lightly with soil. For succession plantings, sow another batch of seeds every 2-3 weeks.
For a fall crop, sow seeds from late summer to early fall, or as late as 4-6 weeks before the first frost date. If need be, provide a row cover or cold frame to protect the crop. Spinach planting can also occur in containers. To grow spinach in a pot, use a container that is at least 8 inches (20 cm.) deep.
How to Grow Spinach
Keep spinach consistently moist, not soggy. Water deeply and regularly especially during dry periods. Keep the area around the plants weeded.
Side dress the crop at mid-season with compost, blood meal or kelp, which will encourage rapidly growing new, tender leaves. Spinach is a heavy feeder so if you do not incorporate or side dress with compost, incorporate a 10-10-10 fertilizer prior to planting.
Leaf miners are a common pest associated with spinach. Check the undersides of the leaves for eggs and crush them. When leaf miner tunnels are evident, destroy the leaves. Floating row covers will help repel leaf miner pests.
It doesn’t take long for spinach to grow, much like lettuce. Once you see five or six good leaves on a plant, go ahead and begin harvesting. Because spinach is a leafy vegetable, you should always rinse the leaves before using.
Fresh spinach is great mixed with lettuce in a salad or by itself. You can wait until you have enough and cook them down as well.