Planting, Growing, and Harvesting Spinach

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Spinach, a super–cold-hardy vegetable, is a tender-leafed crop that can be planted in very early spring, as well as in 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.


  • 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. (Learn more about preparing soil for planting.)
  • 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 ½ 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 a summer harvest, try New Zealand Spinach or Malabar Spinach, two similar leafy greens.)
  • 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.


  • Fertilize only if necessary due to slow growth, or use as a supplement if your soil pH is inadequate. Use when plant reaches ⅓ 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. (See local frost dates)


  • Leaf Miners: Radishes attract leaf miners away from spinach. The damage that the leaf miners do to radish leaves doesn’t prevent the radishes from growing underground.
  • Bolting
  • Mosaic Virus/Blight
  • Downy Mildew


  • Keep an eye on your plants. Harvest when leaves reach your 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

Wit & Wisdom

  • On March 26, 1937, a Popeye statue was unveiled during a 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.
  • Embrace your leafy greens! Learn more about the health benefits of going green!

Cooking Notes

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

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

Reader Comments

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How to tell the health of your spinach

Hi I am trying to grow spinach and I am unsure how to tell if I am giving my spinach plant too much or too little nutrients? how can I tell if they are super saturated or unsatured?
Thanks for all your help

spinach nutrients

Basically if your spinach looks healthy, then it is probably happy. But if you suspect a problem, a good place to start is to get your soil tested. The results will tell you if your soil has any deficiencies. You might check your county’s Cooperative Extension Service (see http://www.almanac.com/content/cooperative-extension-services ), which may offer information on this topic. In general, spinach likes quite a bit of nitrogen and moist, not soggy, soil. A soil pH of between 6.2 to 6.8 also helps. Nutrient deficiencies may appear as yellow or pale leaves, stunted or distorted growth, purpling or bronzing of leaves, leaves dropping early, or other symptoms. Hope this helps!

Spinach varieties

Is there a difference between Malabar spinach and mailbag spinach. Anyone have a good reference for types of spinach although I know the one o mentioned isn't a "real" spinach.

- thanks

Todd Charske

storing spinach

pls how do I freeze excess spinach

Harvesting time

I'm trying to get the most use out of my garden space. I live in zone 7-8. I planted the spinach and kale on March 12. Once it matures, how long will I be harvesting the plants? I want to grow okra there. Thank you. I'm still learning.

how long to harvest?

Spinach likes cook conditions; too hot for too long and it will bolt. But even in the best conditions, it won’t produce leaves endlessly. The harvest season, and the best conditions, also depend on the variety. Ballpark estimate of harvest season in ideal conditions: six to eight weeks. You might find more help below—there is lots of information there, including, maybe, the variety you are growing.

Kale starts best in cooler conditions, and it might appear to slow down in heat. Here, too, the harvest season, and the best conditions, also depend on the variety. You might find more help here; be sure to read the questions and answers at the bottom of the page, too—there is lots of information there, including, maybe, the variety you are growing: http://www.almanac.com/plant/kale


used to get a spinach from Gurneys, I believe it was "australian or new zealand ....like a bush spinach , grew almost 3' tall and could pick all summer... can't find it anywhere ...any ideas? THANKS

New Zealand spinach

You can find New Zealand spinach (not a true spinach) offered by various mail-order companies, such as Burpee, Victory Seeds, etc. Search the Web for “New Zealand spinach” and it should turn up a few options for companies.

Tips for freezing my spinach?

Tips for freezing my spinach? I harvested quite a bunch that i'd like to freeze for future--thanks!

There are many methods for

There are many methods for prepping spinach for the freezer, but we prefer to steam it. Thoroughly wash the spinach and then dry completely. Trim the stems, chop leaves if desired, then steam in batches for 2 minutes each bunch. Place the leaves in ice water for about 1 minute after steaming. Thoroughly dry (a salad spinner is good for this part) and then measure and put into freezer bags, labeling each bag with the amount of spinach.

I live in NW Arkansas, and

I live in NW Arkansas, and it's the middle of January. I'm looking to plant some spinach and other salad greens soon for early spring harvest.

1) In my area, is it feasible to start planting spinach and other salad greens this early?

2) If so, what other salad greens might be a good choice for such early planting?

(Thank you Almanac Staff for such thorough responses on all these comments! I'm really impressed and have learned so much already from this comment thread!)

Glad to hear that the info

Glad to hear that the info here is helpful.
Hope this is too: Your geography is not as important as your soil temperature. So, January or February, early-spring harvest spinach seeds shouldn't get planted until the ground is thawed and will be 40°F or warmer (but not over 70°; see above).
As for other options, most leaf greens seed packages suggest that planting is possible "when the soil can be worked" but even then you need minimum temps. Browse the seed packet displays, choose a few that appeal, and follow the instructions. (Not sure if we have guidance on every single one but you can check.) It's important that the ground not refreeze one the seeds are sown. All of this also presumes that you have ideal soil conditions and sun, of course.
Nothing stirs interest in salad greens quite like the longer days of midwinter. Good luck!

Hi! I live in Arkansas around

Hi! I live in Arkansas around the Clinton area. You can also plant spinach in hanging baskets or window planters if you want to save space in your garden for other veggies :). This is our first year to plant a garden (fingers crossed!) . The guy we bought plants from (who sells to every successful gardener I know) suggested to soak 1/8 teaspoon seeds in 1teaspoon sugar for 1 minute. Then sprinkle the sugar mix in the baskets and gently brush hands over dirt. Once seeds sprout good, thin to 10-12 plants in your 10-12" basket. Also for our area in NWA, when the hickory tree buds swell, plant your cabbage, squash (plant 1 dill next to squash), broccoli, oh I'm forgetting a few others. Once a squirrel can hide in the
hickory tree foliage, plant your climbing veggies: cucumber, tomato, pole beans, etc & seeds to other veggies (that's all we can fit in 1 of our first small garden beds). If it's worked for decades for this guys family I'm going to try it! Thought I'd share :). I'm excited to see what our harvest will be like!

Spinach and lettuce in

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

how many times can i harvest the spinach??

There is no limit to your

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...
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.

Still chance of snow, in

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

Spinach is quite hearty. You

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

what happens to spinach if it is planted under shade?

Spinach is shade-tolerant as

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

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

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/...
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.

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,

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

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

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...

I planted spinach for the

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

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 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.

Botanical Name: 

Spinacia oleracea

Plant Type: 

Sun Exposure: 

Soil Type: 

Soil pH: 

Hardiness Zone: 

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