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Spinach

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Botanical name: Spinacia oleracea

Plant type: Vegetable

USDA Hardiness Zones: 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9

Sun exposure: Full Sun

Soil type: Loamy

Soil pH: Neutral


This super-cold-hardy vegetable is a tender crop that can be planted in very early spring as well as fall and winter. Spinach has similar growing conditions and requirements as lettuce, but it is more versatile in both its nutrition and its ability to be eaten raw or cooked. It is higher in iron, calcium, and vitamins than most cultivated greens, and one of the best sources of vitamins A, B, and C.

Planting

  • Prepare the soil with aged manure about a week before planting, or, you may wish to prepare your spot in the fall so that you can sow the seeds outdoors in early spring as soon as the ground thaws.
  • If you live in a place with mild winters, you can also plant in the fall.
  • Although seedlings can be propagated indoors, it is not recommended as seedlings are difficult to transplant.
  • Spring plantings can be made as soon as the soil can be properly worked. It's important to seed as soon as you can to give spinach the required 6 weeks of cool weather from seeding to harvest.
  • Select a site with full sun to light shade and well-drained soil.
  • Sow seeds 1/2 inch to 1 inch deep, covering lightly with soil. Sow about 12 seeds per foot of row, or sprinkle over a wide row or bed.
  • Soil should not be warmer than 70º F in order for germination.
  • Successive plantings should be made every couple weeks during early spring. Common spinach cannot grow in midsummer.
  • For summer types, try New Zealand Spinach and Malabar Spinach.
  • Plant in mid-August for a fall crop, ensuring that soil temps are cool enough.
  • Gardeners in northern climates can harvest early-spring spinach if it's planted just before the cold weather arrives in fall. Protect the young plants with a cold frame or thick mulch through the winter, then remove the protection when soil temperature in your area reaches 40º.
  • Water the new plants well in the spring.

Care

  • Fertilize only if necessary due to slow growth, or use as a supplement if your soil's pH is inadequate. Use when plant reaches 1/3 growth.
  • When seedlings sprout to about two inches, thin them to 3-4 inches apart.
  • Beyond thinning, no cultivation is necessary. Roots are shallow and easily damaged.
  • Keep soil moist with mulching.
  • Water regularly.
  • Spinach can tolerate the cold; it can survive a frost and temps down to 15ºF.

Pests

Harvest/Storage

  • Keep an eye on your plants. Harvest when leaves reach desired size.
  • Don’t wait too long to harvest, or wait for larger leaves; bitterness will set in quickly after maturity.
  • The whole plant can be harvested at once, and cut at the base, or leaves may be picked off plants one layer at a time, giving inner layers more time to develop.

Recommended Varieties

  • 'Giant Nobel' is a plain leaf variety.
  • 'Winter Bloomsdale' is a crinkled Leaf, fall variety, tolerant to mosaic viruses.
  • 'Tyee' Can be planted in spring or fall, and is resistant to downy mildew.

Recipes

Cooking Notes

A pinch of baking soda in the cooking water keeps spinach greener.

Spinach boosts your brainpower; it can hinder iron absorption. For better absorption of iron, eat spinach with orange slices.

Wit & Wisdom

On March 26, 1937, a Popeye statue unveiled during spinach festival in Crystal City, Texas.

Where lilacs grow, old-time farmers say to plant spinach when lilacs are in first leaf.

Scatter spinach or lettuce seeds around emerging bulb foliage to make wise use of your garden space, and have a leafy green crop at the ready to cover the bare spots left by deadheaded spring flowers.

Comments

Spinach and lettuce in

By Amanda In SoFLa

Spinach and lettuce in shade?
I'm looking to utilize my empty wall by my front door. 6'x9'. I wanted to go vertical and plant rows of lettuce and spinach in this area. I live in south florida. It's hot and humid most of the year. Can I achieve success with these two plants? It is there another veggie fruit or spice to plant in this area. It's west facing with minimal direct sun. I am just getting into gardening and really love it. Thank you for your help.

Also. I was looking to use

By Amanda In SoFLa

Also. I was looking to use gutters to create the rows. Is this a good idea and healthy? Just seems to make sense.
TY again.

I live in Oklahoma and i'm

By shane stewart

I live in Oklahoma and i'm running a similar system. I used four 4' lengths of gutter on a 6'x 50" wood frame. I also found it difficult to water after 2 weeks of growth so i ran a length of schedule 40 pvc along the back of the gutter for easier watering. I've been growing black seeded simpson well in my indoor rack and simpson select on my outdoor rack.

I started a garden this year

By Clobsmom

I started a garden this year for the first time ever. Normally if it doesn't 'meow' I have no idea how to keep it alive.. But my garden is doing beautifully. My spinach was planted a few days after the last snowfall (which in Calgary, AB is late May)I have been harvesting steadily as I need the spinach, but now I have leaf miners. I've been removing the leaves that have been affected and am careful to clean each leaf before feeding it to my family but now a few plants are bolting and I was wondering if I should harvest the whole crop. And if I do will this kill off the leafminers before I try and plant a new crop in the fall? Any advise is appreciated..

I would harvest the entire

By Amber S

I would harvest the entire crop. If one spinach had started to bolt, it is likely because of the heat. Here in Southern California, my spinach bolted in March. If one has started to bolt, the rest will follow shortly after. If you wait, they will be too bitter to eat

I sowed my spinach Viking

By Catherine Cullinan

I sowed my spinach Viking from seeds in the ground in March, they are still small plants. It's my first time sowing spinach so I don't know when to pick them.

Spinach does not like hot

By Almanac Staff

Spinach does not like hot weather, so hopefully you have your plants in the shade. Harvest the leaves when they reach desired size. Don’t wait too long to harvest, or wait for larger leaves; bitterness will set in quickly after maturity. The whole plant can be harvested at once, and cut at the base, or leaves may be picked off the plants one layer at a time, giving inner layers more time to develop.

I planted some spinach last

By Roy Goodall

I planted some spinach last year and had a wonderful crop. I left it in and this year it is about 7 foot tall, is this a record?

Roy, I don't think this was

By Almanac Staff

Roy, I don't think this was spinach unless it was born in a fictional land for Popeye the Sailor! The height for most varieties is 10 to 12 inches.

I had bought 4 spinach

By Jen12345

I had bought 4 spinach seedlings from a grocery store in a 4-pack, which were each about as tall as my finger. I planted them in pots on my porch in early May. They are all healthy and fully green. However, almost every leaf on every plant is arrow-shaped (and has been since I got them) and stalks with buds on them are growing, and they got much taller within only a few days. A search online tells me that this means they are about to become bitter, seed, and die. Right now the leaves are green and not very bitter. My question is, if I bring the spinach pots indoors, can I still save the plants and get them to produce big, edible leaves over the summer? Or is it already too late to do that?

Unfortunately, as I

By Almanac Staff

Unfortunately, as I understand it, once a spinach plant starts to bolt, you can't reverse it. Spinach begins to bolt due to increasing daylight (about 14 hours or longer) as well as warmer temperatures. You can continue to harvest the leaves for now until they become too bitter; in late summer (after temperatures have cooled a bit) or early fall, you can plant some more for a fall crop.

I bought some spinach plants

By LynetteM

I bought some spinach plants from my neighborhood nursery and they have taken off! the leaves arent as big as i was expecting, more the size of baby spinach. im just wondering when i can harvest and how to do that without destroying the entire plant, i want it to be around for a while. and also there are the seed things on the plant as well. what do i do with those? any and all help is greatly appreciated!

In general, harvest the outer

By Almanac Staff

In general, harvest the outer leaves to allow the inner ones to develop further. However, if the plant develops a large stalk with buds/flowers/seeds (called bolting), then you should pull the entire plant and use the leaves as you can. The leaves on the stalk will look narrower. When a spinach plant starts to bolt, it makes the leaves bitter. You can try to slow the bolting by pinching off the flower/seedheads as they appear, or keeping the plant moist and providing a little shade if the weather gets too warm.
 
Bolting can be caused by stress, warm temperatures, or daylight longer than about 14 hours (which happens in many areas of the US around May). Because of this, spinach is best planted in early spring or fall, when it is cooler and the days are shorter.

how many times can i harvest

By haifa

how many times can i harvest the spinach??

There is no limit to your

By Almanac Staff

There is no limit to your harvest, Haifa. The plants might wilt in high heat and low moisture and that could signal the end. But pick leaves of any size (always leaving a few little ones on there), keep the plants well watered, and—depending on the variety—you should have many weeks of harvest. Depending on your first frost date (if indeed you live in an area that has frost), you might even squeeze in a second season. Check your frost date here (this is set for Kansas City; key in your location on the page): http://www.almanac.com/content/frost-chart-united-states/KS/Dodge%20City
Then, if you are likely to get a fall frost, count the days that back into summer based on the growth-to-maturity period of your spinach, and plant that second crop.
Enjoy!

Still chance of snow, in

By Margaret Outlaw

Still chance of snow, in Hampton roads VA. Wsnt to plant spinach. Should I wait until later in Spril

Spinach is quite hearty. You

By Almanac Staff

Spinach is quite hearty. You can even spread seeds over frozen ground or snow cover in late winter and it will germinate as the soil thaws. We'd plant in early spring!

what happens to spinach if it

By Simiso Dlamini

what happens to spinach if it is planted under shade?

Spinach is shade-tolerant as

By Almanac Staff

Spinach is shade-tolerant as it bolts easily in full Sun. It grows best with 3 to 4 hours of Sun.
Try baby spinach and harvest the outmost leaves of each plant and it should last longer.

Does spinach make a suitable

By Chris Noble

Does spinach make a suitable alternative to horseraddish? Also can it survive summer heats of 35c & winter temps of -20c? Horseraddish grows vigorously in our garden in Bulgaria.

Hi, Chris, Thanks for

By Almanac Staff

Hi, Chris, Thanks for consulting us from Bulgaria!
Horseradish and spinach are entirely different in the ground, in cooking, in your mouth. Horseradish is a perennial—it will come back every year, proof that it can survive just about any temp. It has a very strong flavor. Here are a bunch of recipes using it: http://www.almanac.com/search/apachesolr_search/horseradish?filters=type:recipe
Spinach is an annual: It will die with the first frost. So no, spinach will not survive the temps you cite. It can be used in salads and numerous other dishes. Put the word "Spinach" into the search box on this Web site and you will get lots of advice and ideas and recipes about it.
Hope this helps! Thanks again for reaching out from so far!

So my cilantro is flowering.

By Jimbolee11

So my cilantro is flowering. My green beans are getting white flowers. My spinach is growing these weird Christmas tree looking seed pods. I planted all of these guys from seeds at the start of the season. I don't have the first clue on how to cure & maintain all my herbs & vegetables so that I can maintain a healthy plant that will not only continue to thrive but yield great harvests too??

Once spinach develops pods,

By Almanac Staff

Once spinach develops pods, it's done producing but you can let the pods develop and once the plant turns yellow, collect the seeds to replant next season. Your cilantro is also done. Those white blossoms on the green beans are good; the blooms develop into the bean pods.

Ok thank you for your

By Jimbolee11

Ok thank you for your response on the 3 different vegetable questions I had, I do appreciate it, yet I'm still confused as to why my spinach & my cilantro started seeding before I was able to harvest anything. I mean, I went from planting the seeds in April, to having a plant with a minimal amount of small leaves in May-June, too having seed pods come July?????? I never got to harvest anything ????? What did I do wrong? Am I missing something????? Is their something I am supposed to do to "ALL" my vegetable plants as they are growing to keep them from seeding so that they can continue to produce edible harvests throughout the growing season???????? It doesn't make any sense to me how I can plant a vegetable seed watch it grow a little then all of a sudden it goes to seed. Please tell me what I'm doing wrong or what I need to do from now on please thank you....

You are not alone with

By Almanac Staff

You are not alone with cilantro and it's just a learning process. Cilantro is really a cool-weather plant (spring and fall) and can't grow in summer heat so planting times depend on where you live and your climate. When the weather gets warm, the plant bolts and sends up a long, lanky flower stalks that will later seed. Even in cool conditions, cilantro yields a fast crop; plants are barely up before they try to flower and set seeds. Two weeks tops. So those tasty leaves aren't around long, especially in warm weather. We're not sure where you live but if you lived in the Southwest, for example, it may be best to plant in the fall and it may keep growing until spring when the weather heats up again. We would suggest you contact your county's cooperative extension for free, local, in-person advice. Here's a link to get you started: http://www.almanac.com/content/cooperative-extension-services

I planted spinach for the

By Lorelei Lee

I planted spinach for the first time this year. We were having a very cold spring, and I was getting tired of waiting to plant my normal crops, so near the end of April I bought some spinach, and romaine lettuce seeds on impulse. One end of my planting beds gets a fair bit of shade, thanks to my neighbor's tree, so my thinking was that even if it started getting too hot, the shade might prevent it from bolting too soon. I just harvested some fairly big leaves which I've incorporated into tonight's dinner. I expect they will all have been harvested by the time the butternut squash decides to take over the garden.

Spinach at 10250 feet

By Anonymous

Hi,
How can I keep it from bolting before I get anything to eat? The sun (aka death rays) is very misleading at this altitude. Topping didn't seem to work - still 2 feet tall with 6 leaves. They were tasty leaves though :)

Spinach

By Almanac Staff

Spinach is a cold season crop and grows best in spring early-summer and in the fall when temps are cooler. New Zealand Spinach and Malabar Spinach do tolerate some hot weather. Plant the spinach in semi-shade or protect the plants from the hot sun with an umbrella or screen. Depending on where you live you can start some seeds now and hopefully you'll get some nice leaves before the ground freezes.

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