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

how many times can i harvest

By haifa on April 11

how many times can i harvest the spinach??

Still chance of snow, in

By Margaret Outlaw on March 24

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 on March 24

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.

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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