Spinach is a popular cool-weather crop. It is one of the most satisfying fast-growing, low maintenance vegetable. It’s high yields are packed with iron, vitamins A and C, potassium, thiamin and folic acid, just to mention a few. Oh, its dark green leaves also taste great when eaten fresh or cooked. To grow your own , Learn how to grow spinach.
Despite there being numerous varieties with varied leaf shapes and textures, there are two main categories of spinach-Savoy and smooth leaf.
For beginners, growing spinach can be challenging but in real sense it’s actually super easy. You just need to know how and when to do it, timing is everything. So, in this read we’ll show you how to grow spinach and care for them. Once you know the secret, you’re guaranteed of a garden full of these delicious greens.
Origin of Spinach
Spinach is believed to have originated from Iran. It began being cultivated in various countries in the eighteenth century. It was brought to the America by the Spanish.
Spinach Seeds of Plants? Which should you plant?
Honestly, this is a personal choice. However, most gardeners prefer starting with seeds. Transplants are often available at most nurseries but we suggest you nurture your own.
Which Spinach Variety Should You Plant?
Again, this is a personal choice. However, we recommend getting a popular variety from renowned seed grower. Such vendors can be sourced online or various stores. Below are some popular spinach varieties.
- Giant Nobel. It has plain leaves.
- Winter Bloomsdale. Has crinkled-leaves and is highly tolerant to mosaic viruses.
- Best when planted in spring. It’s very resistant to downy mildew.
- Malabar Spinach and New Zealand Spinach. Quite tolerant to heat. Grow them during summer when the other varieties can’t withstand the heat.
Tips When Growing Spinach
- Buy fresh seeds every season. This is because spinach seeds does not store well.
- If possible, plant only during cool fall conditions. This is when spinach produces best. It’s tricky to grow spinach in hot summer conditions. During warm weather, sow the seeds heavily since their germination rate is very low. Also, water the seed beds more frequently to cool the soil.
- Wash them well before use.
- Don’t store spinach in the refrigerator with fruits such as melons, apples and tomatoes. They’re very sensitive to ethylene gas that’s emitted by such fruits.
- Freeze them for later use. Such can last for 3-6 months.
- Always plant the right varieties depending on your ecological conditions.
How to Grow Spinach
Spinach is propagated solely by seeds. Start by raising them in a nursery then transplant them into the main garden afterwards.
Even though you can start your spinach seeds indoors, we wouldn’t recommend that. That’s because such seedlings are hard to transplant.
1. Establish the nursery
- Prepare a nursery bed of approximately one meter width against the desired length.
- Drill lines on the bed at a depth of about one centimeter.
- Place the seeds and cover them slightly with soil and thin layer of mulch-dry grass.
- Water the nursery bed regularly.
- Allow the seeds one week to germinate.
After a month, your seedlings will have developed 3-4 leaves thus being ready for transplanting. Transplant on a cloudy day or in the evening when it’s not sunny.
- First, wet the seedlings before uprooting them from the nursery bed. This prevents the roots from possible damage.
- Choose the healthiest seedlings for transplant. Spray some water on them to avoid transplanting shock.
3. Start by preparing the Planting Site
- Choose a site with well-drained, nitrogen rich soil.
- Dig down deep (at least one foot) to loosen the soil.
- Prepare raised beds. These enhance drainage and root development.
- A week before planting, mix your garden soil with manure. Alternatively, you can use fertilizer. If such a case, apply one handful in every square meter of soil.
- Level the ground using a rake.
4. Read the nursery recommendations on the seed packet and put the seedlings into the ground. Normally, the sowing depth should be approximately half inch to one inch and to inches apart in rows. This allows the leaves to reach full size
5. After sowing your seedlings, cover them lightly with soil and water your new plant.
Under favorable weather conditions, spinach seeds germinate in 5-9 days.
How to Care For Spinach
- Water them regularly. We recommend flood irrigation, a hosepipe, sprinkler or drip irrigation. Let the water be enough but not soggy.
- Do mulching in order to keep the soil moist. Additionally, it helps suppress weeds since hand pulling or cultivating them can harm the roots.
- Fertilize. This should be done when the spinach develops four true leaves, if you observe slow growth or if your soil pH needs some upgrade.
- Thinning. This helps reduce overcrowding thus ensuring your plants get all the necessary amount of nutrients. It should be done when seedlings reach two inches. You should let thin them to four inches apart.
- Top Dressing. This should be done after five weeks. Spinach requires large amount of nitrogen in order to develop broad and high quality leaves. We suggest you use LAN or chicken manure. Apply the top dresser between the rows then work it a little bit.
- Get rid of any weeds This also helps reduce competition for the much needed nutrients thus helping your spinach thrive. However, be keen not to damage the shallow roots of your spinach.
- Even though spinach can survive in adverse frost and cold temperatures (approximately -9 0C), young spinach should be covered in during extreme cold temperatures-they’re very tender.
- Regular harvesting. Remove the older (outer) leaves regularly with a sharp knife and always be keen not to damage the new leaves. If you don’t intend to use them immediately after harvest, put them in water to preserve them for later use.
- Crop rotation. Avoid planting spinach on the same site over and over. Doing so can cause build up of spinach pests and diseases in the soil. So, purpose to rotate your spinach with other veggies.
Common Pests and Diseases
These are usually not a major problem since most varieties of spinach thrive in cool weather. However, below are some common pests and diseases that you need to be on the look out for when growing spinach.
- Slugs and snails.
- Cutworms and wireworms.
- Blight/ Mosaic Virus. Normally spread by aphids. It results to stunted spinach with yellow leaves.
- Downy Mildew. Usually occur during wet weather conditions. IT manifests as yellow spots on leaves and mold under the leaves. To control it, avoid working around wet plants and plant resistant cultivars.
- Leaf Miners. These burrow the leaves and leave tan patches. You can prevent them by covering your spinach with floating row cover. Remove and destroy the affected plants to curb the spread.
How to Harvest Spinach
Harvest when the leaves reach the right size-normally after 6-8 weeks. Using a sharp knife, remove the older leaves from any plant that has at least four inch leaves. Spinach usually turn bitter if it it’s not harvested after maturity, so don’t wait too long.
You can harvest the whole plant at once by cutting the base or pick off the leaves one layer at a time. We recommend the later since it allows the inner layer ample time to develop.
In case you notice any bolting, harvest the whole crop by cutting the whole main stem slightly under the soil surface.
To many of us, spinach is nature’s super food. It’s best enjoyed in its purest form. Spinach can miraculously liven up any dull meal and provide untold nutrients to our bodies. We highly recommend this amazing veggie for any culinary lifestyle or diet. Hopefully, your inner queries on how to grow spinach and take care of them have been answered. The ball is now in your court.
Finally, we wouldn’t mind knowing which spinach variety you plan to grow. Also, if you have any memory of spinach, kindly share in the comments section below.