How to Grow Spinach

Spinach in the gardenSpinach is a cool-season annual. Sow spinach indoors 6 to 8 weeks before the last average frost date in spring. Sow spinach outdoors or set out transplants 4 weeks before the last average frost date. In mild-winter regions, grow spinach in late summer or early autumn for harvest in autumn or winter.

Description. Spinach is a cool-season annual grown for its leaves. Spinach forms a rosette of dark green leaves that can be flat or crinkled (savoy leaf spinach).

Yield. Plant 15 plants per household member.

Site. Plant spinach in loamy soil rich in organic matter that is well-drained with a pH of 6.0 to 6.8. Grow spinach in full sun or partial shade in warm regions. Spinach is hardy and thrives in cool weather; ideal spinach weather is 50°F to 70°F. Warm weather and long days will cause spinach to bolt or go to seed.

Planting time. Spinach is a cool-season annual. Sow spinach indoors 6 to 8 weeks before the last average frost date in spring. Sow spinach outdoors or set out transplants 4 weeks before the last average frost date. In mild-winter regions, grow spinach in late summer or early autumn for harvest in autumn or winter. Plant succession crops of spinach every 2 to 3 weeks. Refrigerate seeds 1 week before sowing to help germination.

How to plant. Plant spinach seed ½ inch deep, 2 to 4 inches apart, in rows 12 to 14 inches apart . Thin spinach to 12 inches apart when seedlings are 3 inches. Thin to the strongest seedlings.

Water and feeding. Spinach grows best when the soil is kept evenly moist. Avoid splashing muddy water onto leaves or mulch around plants to avoid getting soil on leaves–they may be difficult to clean after harvesting. Side dress spinach with aged compost at mid season

Companion plants. Strawberries. Not corn or pole beans.

Care. Keep planting beds free of weeds to avoid competition for light, water, and nutrients. Cut weeds at soil level to avoid damaging the shallow roots of spinach. Spinach will bolt in temperatures greater than 75°F.

Container growing. Spinach will grow in a container. Allow one plant for each 8 inch pot; in large containers plant spinach on 10 inch centers. Spinach is heat sensitive; move containers into the shade on warm and hot days. Containers will warm more quickly than garden soil in spring.

Pests. Spinach can be attacked by aphids and leafminers. Pinch out aphid infested foliage. Remove leaves in which leafminers have laid eggs–look for the eggs on the underside of the leaves.

Diseases. Spinach is susceptible to rust. Plant rust- and disease-resistant varieties. Keep the garden clean of debris. Remove and destroy diseased plants.

Harvest. Spinach will be ready for harvest 40 to 52 days after sowing. Cut leaves 4 to 7 inches long from plants with 6 to 8 leaves. Allow young leaves to grow on to maturity. If you take all of the leaves, cut them 3 inches above the soil and they will grow on for a second harvest. Wash spinach thoroughly to eliminate the grit that sometimes sticks to crinkled leaves.

Varieties. Spinach: America (52 days); Bloomsdale Long Standing (43 days); Skookum (41 days); Tyee (37-53 days)

Storing and preserving. Both types of spinach can be refrigerated for up to one week. They can be frozen canned or dried. Spinach seeds also can be sprouted.

Common name. Spinach

Botanical name. Spinacia oleracea

Origin. Asia

Grow 80 vegetables: THE KITCHEN GARDEN GROWERS’ GUIDE