How to grow spinach
Spinach (Spinacia oleracea) is a leafy green plant that is popular in gardens, as it’s fairly easy to grow. Not only can it be grown in an outdoor garden, but it will also thrive in a pot inside or on a porch, making it convenient for those living in apartments or otherwise lacking backyards. It also means you can have fresh spinach year-round if you continue plantings in a container!
While spinach can be grown outdoors throughout the planting season, it truly thrives in cooler weather. It can be planted as an early spring crop and continue well into the cooling weather of autumn.
Spinach is chock-full of nutrients, such as Vitamins A, C, E and K. It is also a great source of antioxidants, magnesium, folate, folic acid, calcium and iron, among others. Eating spinach raw or lightly steamed will preserve these nutrients, but you can also boil it and use it in various recipes. Current popular uses of spinach include salad, smoothies, quiches, casseroles, lasagna and egg dishes. It is also an excellent addition to meat loaf and homemade meatballs.
Now for the basics of growing spinach at home:
Spinach will germinate better in soil that is less than 75 degrees. Once the danger of frost is past, you can plant outside immediately. Otherwise, you can start spinach indoors and transplant it once it’s warmer.
Choose your seeds
There are many different varieties of spinach. Take the time to read the back of seed packets or research the various types. Some things to look for include bolt resistant forms (if your spinach will be exposed to hot temperatures), leaf type (savoy, flat-leaf, semi-savoy and baby) and sowing period (spring, summer or winter).
Prepare your soil
Spinach prefers a higher pH in the soil, around 6.0 to 7.0. Lime can be added to increase acidity, while compost or manure is a good addition to increase nitrogen and water retention (in case of sandy or clay-filled soil). Your soil should also have good drainage, as spinach does not do well sitting in too soggy of soil.
Check the sun
Spinach enjoys partial to full sun, but not too much heat. If you can, plant spinach where it will be in partial shade during the hottest months and full sun in the coolest months.
Sow the seeds
Plant spinach seeds 1/2 inch deep. Rows should be spaced about twelve inches apart. Lightly cover with soil. You can re-sow every couple of weeks to insure a constant crop.
Keep soil moist, but not soggy. An inch of water per week should be sufficient unless your soil is drying out too fast.
Spinach is a hungry, fast-growing plant, so it’s recommended to use fertilizer or fish emulsion at the beginning (if chosen soil does not include some form of fertilizer) and every ten days until the spinach has reached a sufficient size.
Thin the crop
When your spinach has leaves, carefully thin to about six inches between plants.
Harvest your crop
Spinach should be ready to pick within about six weeks. You can cut leaves off as soon as they look an appealing size to you, or you can remove the entire plant and re-sow in its place.
Put spinach into your favorite foods and enjoy!