Some spinach varieties can be harvested just six to eight weeks after planting. You can enjoy spinach year-round by planning ahead and planting different types successively.
How to Grow Spinach
The best way to grow spinach depends on your location and personal preferences. If you live in a place with a lot of sunshine, you can grow spinach outdoors. If you have limited space, you can grow spinach in pots on a terrace or courtyard. You can also grow spinach in raised garden beds.
You can choose from three different types of spinach – curly leafed savoy, flat-leafed, or slightly curly semi-savoy. The flat-leafed types usually have the mildest flavor, and the smallest leaves are sold as baby spinach.
When is the Best Month to Plant Spinach?
The best month for growing spinach will vary depending on the climate zone you live in. spinach thrives in cool weather, so aim to plant it during the spring and fall.
Plant in succession to have a steady crop until fall. To have a steady crop of summer spinach until fall, plant varieties of spinach every few weeks from early until late spring.
Some winter spinach cultivars can be sown as late as mid-summer to early fall and still be harvested before the first frost.
The experts at Bonnie Plants suggest planting spinach four to six weeks before the last spring frost and again six to eight weeks before the first fall frost for two annual crops.
You can have a constant supply of spinach throughout the growing season by planting seeds every three to four weeks.
How to Grow Spinach from Seed
Choose a location for your spinach crops. Some varieties of spinach are well suited to containers.
To grow spinach successfully, enrich the soil by adding homemade garden compost and a general fertilizer before planting the seeds. This will help the spinach grow well and prevent the leaves from tasting bitter.
You can never add too much compost to garden soil, according to Simon Crawford, a breeder at Burpee Europe. Mixing in 2-4 inches of compost before planting is the minimum you should do.
The key to success begins with getting the plants off to a good start according to Simon. The right varieties should be planted in rich, organic soil and supplied with lots of moisture. Fertilizing should not be overlooked either for vigorous and tasty spinach.
Follow these steps for how to grow spinach from seed:
- Grow spinach in moist but well-drained soil or compost.
- Winter spinach cultivars need a sunny position; summer spinach varieties are better in partial shade so are among the easiest vegetables to grow in shade
- Sow seeds thinly in a shallow drill – about 1inch deep.
- If sowing more than one row then space each row about 14 inches apart.
- Cover seeds lightly with soil.
- After the seeds germinate thin them to 3-5 inches apart. ‘Thinning is very important and you must be ruthless,’ says Simon Crawford.
- Fertilize plants regularly with water-soluble plant food.
- Sow seeds every three to four weeks for a regular supply through the growing season.
- Keep spinach crops well watered – watering at the base of the plant.
You can cut spinach multiple times and it will last for a long time. Monty Don suggests planting the seeds close together so you can keep harvesting it as a salad crop. It’s important to keep the spinach watered so it will continue to grow well.
It’s Good for You
While spinach is not as high in iron as previously thought, it does contain beta carotene, ascorbic acid, thiamin, riboflavin, niacin, and folic acid, as well as respectable amounts of calcium, potassium, and protein. These vitamins and nutrients help fight various types of cancer and promote good cardiovascular health.
Spinach is a good source of lutein and zeaxanthin, which may help prevent macular degeneration and cataracts. Spinach is a healthy green vegetable that can help you stay well nourished and fit.
Growing Great Spinach
Spinach is difficult to grow compared to other vegetables. It prefers a high pH, needs consistent soil moisture, but can’t handle extremely wet soil.
If you garden in the eastern parts of the state, where soils tend to be more acidic, adding some lime to the soil can help make it more hospitable for spinach. Have your soil tested to determine how much lime is needed; as a general guide, if you know your soil is on the acidic side, you should add about 5 pounds of agricultural grade lime per 100 square feet.
Grains like wheat, rice, and corn grow best in sandy soils. Sandy soils need some compost mixed in to increase their ability to hold water and nutrients, which is beneficial for plants with a limited root system like spinach. Clay soils can also use some compost mixed in deeply, and raised beds may be needed on clay soils and any areas with marginal drainage to keep the roots up out of soggy conditions. Grains like wheat, rice, and corn grow best in sandy soils.
To make the most of your garden space, plant several rows of plants along or across wide-topped raised beds. Leave 8 to 10 inches of space between rows of plants across or down the bed. For a continuous supply of fresh produce, stagger plantings by 10 to 14 days.
Although spinach prefer full sun, it will still grow in areas with less sunlight.
Spinach does not germinate well in warm soil, which is a problem for many Texas gardeners. The soil should be around 75 degrees or cooler for good germination. Sunlight or shade can also make a big difference. Placing a shade cloth over the planting area can help improve germination when conditions are not ideal.
As a general guide, you can begin planting spinach about two months before the first fall frost in your area. In central portions of the state, we begin planting in about mid-September, although those early stands are often hit and miss. Northern and southern areas of the state may begin planting a month earlier or later, respectively. Just remember that weather is a major factor in determining how early you can plant. Areas that are shady may be ready to plant a bit earlier.
If you want your seeds to germinate, soak them in water in the refrigerator for 24 hours prior to planting. Before you plant the seeds, water the soil in the row to soak it deeply. Plant the seeds about 1/4 inch deep, and put a row cover fabric over the row. This will help hold in soil moisture and allow the seedlings to get off to a good start. Remember not to let the seedlings dry out. They should germinate in about 7 to 10 days. When they’re about 2 inches tall, thin them out to about 6 inches apart.
I sometimes start spinach seeds indoors to get an earlier start to the season. This is especially effective if you only want to grow a small patch of spinach. Transplants are also great for gardeners wanting to grow spinach in containers or in ornamental beds. Spinach does well in containers and as green filler in ornamental beds. Choose a container that has a diameter of at least eight inches for best results.
To grow your own transplants, follow these steps: 1. Wet a quality seed starting mix well prior to planting. 2. Cover seeds about one-quarter inch deep, then lightly mist the tray again. 3. Place the tray in a clear plastic bag (such as a dry cleaners bag) to hold in moisture until seedlings sprout. 4. Remove the bag, and move the tray to a bright window or a bright shady outdoor location.
Once your seedlings have grown for a week or two, begin to expose them to more sunlight. Gradually fertilize them with a soluble fertilizer, and give them another week to get used to the change. After that, you can transplant them into the garden. Make sure to keep the soil moist to help the seedlings survive the transition.
Assuming your soil is of moderate to good nutrient content, you can fertilize your plants about two weeks after they are thinned (or a month after planting).
natural blend: 3 cups per 100 sq ft synthetic blend: 1-1.5 cups per 100 sq ft
To fertilize your spinach plants, evenly spread the fertilizer around them and water it in well. You can also lightly “scratch” it into the surface with a garden tool, but take care not to dig deeply as spinach is very shallow rooted. Suitable fertilizers for your spinach crop include fish emulsion, seaweed, and cottonseed meal. continue to water as needed to keep the soil moist and encourage vigorous growth.
Pests & Diseases
There are several fungal diseases that can affect spinach, depending on the part of Texas where it is grown. The best way to deal with such problems is to plant resistant varieties. Thankfully, there are now several varieties that offer varying degrees of resistance to most diseases.
Insects can pose a problem to crops by chewing holes in leaves. They can be prevented by growing the crop beneath a lightweight rowcover fabric or by spraying it with a low toxicity insecticide. I generally don’t get too worked up over a few holes in leaves.
If you have aphids in your garden, the row cover can help if you apply it early. Pesticides can be used, but it is difficult to get good coverage on the crinkled leaves. In my garden, the beneficial insects seem to keep the aphids in line and I have not had a significant crop loss to them yet.
How Often Should You Water Spinach?
Make sure to water and fertilize spinach plants regularly, but avoid getting the leaves wet. The goal is to keep the soil moist but not soggy. It’s especially important to water regularly in periods of warm weather to prevent the plants from ‘bolting’ or producing flowers – if they do so, the leaves will taste bitter.
Other ways to care for spinach include:
- Protect spinach seedlings sown in the fall from the cold by covering with fleece or a cloche.
- Shade spinach crops in hot weather to stop the soil drying out and the spinach plants bolting. You can do this through companion planting them next to pole – or runner – beans which as they grow will provide shade to protect the tender spinach plants from the heat of the sun.
- Protect young spinach seedlings from slugs, snails, and birds.
You can pick spinach leaves 6 to 10 weeks after planting them. If you plant more spinach in both spring and fall, you can have a steady supply of spinach leaves to pick throughout the year.
Summer spinach cultivars can be picked from May to October, depending on the climate.
Winter spinach varieties can be harvested between October and April.
Simon Crawford Only harvest a few leaves from each plant at a time to ensure they can keep producing throughout the season.
This means that spinach is a good crop to grow when gardening with children because they can keep enjoying the benefits of their work.
some experts suggest picking every other plant to use in the kitchen so the others have more room to grow
As the weather gets warmer, spinach plants will start to grow more quickly. Pay attention to your spinach crops so that you can keep them healthy.
According to Melinda Myers, you can either cut individual outer leaves when the plants are 3 inches tall and allow the inner leaves to continue to grow for later harvests, or cut the whole head when the plant is 6 inches tall and wait several weeks for regrowth and a second harvest.
Baby spinach leaves can be used in salads, while mature leaves can be wilted into soups, stews, pasta, or risotto dishes.
Leaves are best used soon after harvesting for the best flavor, and any extras can be stored in the fridge for up to two weeks.