The lovely dark green leaves of spinach are delicious cooked or raw and high in nutritional value. Spinach has been cultivated for centuries and thought to have originated in southwestern Asia. It was introduced to Europe in the Middle Ages and brought to North America by colonists. This cold hardy annual herb is a cool season crop that will quickly flower and die once temperatures heat up.
Spinach forms a rosette of thick, fleshy, lobed leaves when young. The leaves may be flat and smooth, wavy or wrinkled. Plants mature quickly and elongate and produce stems of tiny, inconspicuous flowers when they do. Warm weather hastens bolting. It allowed to bolt and set seed, the plants will self-sow.
This easy to grow crop may be planted as seedings or directly sown in the garden. It prefers full sun and fertile, neutral to slightly alkaline garden soil. Spinach can be started very early and will even tolerate light frost. Plant in early spring in temperate zones and winter in warm frost-free areas. High soil temperatures will keep spinach seeds from germinating. Feed with a balanced fertilizer once plants begin to leaf out. Spinach grows best when provided regular, but not excessive, moisture.
Harvest spinach leaves starting 35 to 70 days after seeding by cutting the oldest leaves on the outside of the rosette every few days. Harvest the whole rosette of leaves if it shows signs of beginning to bolt. The days to harvest are dependent on cultivar (of which there are many). Choose varieties best adapted for your growing area. Newer cultivars tend to be the easiest to grow. Heirlooms tend to have narrower leaves, less vigor and bolt more quickly, though they often have excellent flavor.
Spinach is a traditional garden ideal for any vegetable garden, big or small. Try growing spinach with your children in containers. It’s a great way to introduce them to the joys gardening for fresh vegetables.
Winchester Gardens generally stocks this item.
Annual – Edible
Green, Dark Green
Select a site with full sun to light shade and well-drained soil. Prepare the garden bed by using a garden fork or tiller to loosen the soil to a depth of 12 to 15 inches, then mix in a 2- to 4-inch layer of compost.
Plant seeds outdoors 4 to 6 weeks before your last spring frost date, and again 4 to 6 weeks before the first fall frost date. Spinach bolts when days are 14 to 16 hours long; warm weather makes it bolt even faster. Sow seeds 1/2 inch deep, about 12 seeds per foot of row, or sprinkle them over a wide row or bed.
When seedlings are 1 inch tall, thin to stand 4 inches apart. Water every few days during dry spells; mulch spinach planted in rows to retain soil moisture. Contact your local County Extension office for controls of common spinach pests such as leaf miners and aphids.
Begin harvesting individual leaves 20 to 30 days after sowing for use as baby greens. Continue harvesting leaves until hot weather forces seed stalks to form. Harvest whole plants 35 to 50 days after seeding by pulling or cutting at the soil line.
Cabbage family, strawberry.