I love spinach. When I first began gardening, I looked forward to getting the spinach in the ground first thing in the spring.
I figured it was one of those “hardy” vegetables that could take a bit of frost or cold and it would be on my table in no time. It’s true, it did come right up but it also went immediately to seed. So I searched the catalogues for “bolt resistant” varieties and I planted them. Sure enough, though, these “bolt resistant” varieties seemed to go to seed just as fast.
So I gave up on planting spinach. I do believe that there are some plants that don’t like particular individuals. I can’t seem to grow rosemary to save my life or hollyhocks, either.
Then, one day, I saw an article about spinach that explained that spinach planted while the days are getting longer will go right to seed. It’s best to wait until after the solstice to plant this particular vegetable. Yet, spinach also doesn’t like heat. It took me awhile to figure out, but now I see spinach as a terrific fall crop.
I actually plant it the second week of August in the bed or beds from which the onions have just been pulled. Last fall, we had great spinach in September, October, November and into December. We actually ate some of our own spinach two days before Christmas last year. Once it got cold, we needed to cover it with plastic to help it fight off the cold. It survived our 20 inches of snow last October and did just fine.
The best news of all, though, is that some varieties of spinach also come back in the spring. I was actually astounded to discover when I got back from a visit to California (to visit my new granddaughter), that the spinach in our garden was already edible on March 25th. That’s the spinach in the picture here.
Read the catalogues carefully in order to find a cold-hardy and returning variety if this interests you. One other unusual aspect about spinach.... When the cold weather comes and nights dip below freezing, spinach turns a bit mushy. If you try to pick it in this state, it will be just mush. However, if you wait until it warms up, it turns back into spinach! Of course, once it gets really cold, this no longer occurs. It truly fascinates me that this is even possible...
We had some really warm weather here in the middle of March. I know it’s tempting to get out in the garden when the weather seems to be cooperating, but I’ve never had good luck with crops planted in March. I think it might have to do with germination. Seeds generally need a specific temperature in order to start to grow and, at least here in New Hampshire, March is just too cold. Other areas of the country might be just fine beginning their gardens already.
The onions are also coming along nicely.
They need to be trimmed back to three or four inches in order to encourage them to develop a strong root system.
In about four weeks, they will be ready to transplant into the garden. I’m still eating onions that I picked the second week of August last year. A few have started to sprout, but most of them are just fine.
And, just because....
Apprentice with Celeste
Celeste will be offering quite a few opportunities for individuals to spend “a day at the farm” with her this spring, summer and fall. Starting on April 21 (rain date April 22), folks will be invited to come to her home and join in her daily activities. These should include many (but, not all) of the following: soil preparation, planting, transplanting, weeding, watering, thinning, bug elimination, pruning, cooking, woods management and chicken related duties. Freezing, canning, fermenting and root cellaring will be their own special days. She will provide written instructions as well as a locally-grown (much from her own garden) lunch. As her operation is not large and she wants to give everybody individual attention, these workshops will be limited to six people. Registration is on a first-come, first-served basis.
Please be prompt and arrive ready to work. She recommends covering up with lightweight long sleeved shirts, pants and hats. She will provide a superb pair of gloves. Wear clothing that you don’t mind getting dirty.
Cost: $150 per person.
Hours: 7 AM until 4 PM (EDT).
Individuals requiring Celeste’s full attention can do day-long apprenticeships for $250. These are by appointment.
To register, leave your phone # and a good time to reach you with Celeste at firstname.lastname@example.org
Celeste Longacre has been growing virtually all of her family’s vegetables for the entire year for over 30 years. She cans, she freezes, she dries, she ferments & she root cellars. She also has chickens.
Celeste has also enjoyed a longtime relationship with The Old Farmer’s Almanac as their astrologer!
Celeste's new book on living lightly on the Earth is due out September 25, 2014.