Spinach is a type of cool-weather crop that does best when planted in the spring or fall. It has thick leaves that can be either smooth or crinkled, depending on the specific variety. Although spinach is thought to have originated in central and western Asia, it can now be found growing in gardens all over the world.
Types of Spinach to Consider Growing
Spinach is divided into five categories in seed catalogs based on its leaf types. With so many varieties available, you will surely find several types that work for your garden.
There are some varieties of plant that take a long time to bolt or go to seed, which makes them ideal for spring planting. Others are better suited for fall planting. Some can even tolerate a little summer heat, as long as they receive plenty of moisture, while others can be overwintered with some cold protection.
Savoy spinach is a type of spinach that has large, thick, and crinkled leaves. It grows low to the ground and is usually found at the grocery store.
Although savoyed-leaf varieties may be more difficult to clean because of their thick, ruffled leaves, they are very productive. Their large foliage has a bold, slightly bitter flavor that make them ideal for cooking. Savoyed-leaf plants also take longer to bolt and can tolerate colder temperatures better than other types of plants.
Savoy spinach varieties include Bloomsdale, Hammerhead, and Melody.
The text is discussing the difference between semi-savory and savory spinach varieties. Semi-savory spinach has foliage that is less deeply crinkled than savory varieties, meaning the leaves are less puckered and easier to wash. The plants also have a more upright growth, making them less susceptible to mud splashes. In addition, semi-savory spinach varieties tend to have better disease resistance and be more resistant to bolting.
Some types of semi-savoy spinach are Acadia, Avon, Catalina, Emperor, Giant Winter, Tundra, and Tyee.
Flat-leafed spinach, also known as smooth spinach, is the type of spinach often found in spring salad mixes and baby spinach in supermarkets. Its flat leaves make it easy to harvest and clean, and its tender texture and slightly sweeter flavor make it a delicious raw addition to salads.
The following are flat-leafed spinach varieties: Corvair, Lakeside, Olympia, Renegade, Seaside, Space, and Teton.
The type of spinach that is common in Asia is called arrowhead spinach, because its leaves are shaped like an arrowhead. It grows upright, which helps to keep the leaves off of the ground and makes it less likely that they will get splashed with dirt or eaten by slugs. The leaves of this plant are also mild-tasting and succulent, which means that they can withstand very hot or cold temperatures without bolting (growing flowers and seeds prematurely).
Some varieties of arrowhead spinach are Flamingo, Improved, Imperial Star, Olympia, Okame, Regiment, and Summer Delight.
Red Veined Spinach
There are many types of spinach with red veins running through their dark green leaves. These varieties usually have an upright growth habit, which helps keep the leaves clean. Some common types are Beaujolais, Bourdeaux, Red Cardinal, Red Kitten, and Red Tabby.
Although plants such as beet greens and Swiss chard are not in the same botanical family as spinach, they can often be used in the same way and substituted for spinach in both raw and cooked recipes.
Some leafy greens that are often used in cooking include: Chinese spinach amaranth (Amaranthus gangeticus), Malabar spinach (Basella alba), New Zealand spinach (Tetragonia tetragonioides), and water spinach (Ipomoea aquatica).
Tips for Growing Spinach
You can harvest spinach in as little as 30 days by picking it when it’s still young, or you can wait longer to let it mature fully. Here’s how to grow spinach in your garden, in containers, or even indoors.
Choosing the Right Container
You need a container that is at least 8 to 10 inches wide and deep for each spinach plant. The container should have drainage holes in the bottom.
The type of container you use is up to you and should be based on your personal style.
Think about how often you will need to move the planter. Will it stay in one place or will you need to bring it indoors or move it to other areas of your yard? A vinyl container is much easier to move than a ceramic one.
Be sure to choose a pot that has holes in the bottom for drainage.
Also consider if you have children or pets that might knock over the planter. A heavier planter would be less likely to tip over in this case.
Preparing the Pot
You can grow spinach from seed or buy Starts from a nursery.
The best temperature for growing spinach during the day is between 50 and 70 degrees Fahrenheit, making it a good choice for planting in the spring or fall.
If the temperature is over 75 degrees Fahrenheit, the plant will produce seeds and the leaves will become bitter and tough. The plant can survive if there is a light frost, but if the frost is severe, the plant will die.
Be sure to check how long it will take for your chosen plant to mature before you plant it. You will need to factor in the heat of summer for spring plantings, or the first frost for fall plantings.
Make sure you plant early enough in warmer climates, such as Zones 6 through 9, so that the temperatures aren’t at risk of getting above 75°F.
How to Prepare the Garden Bed
A good location to grow spinach would be in loamy, well-draining soil that gets 6 or more hours of direct sunlight each day. If planting in late summer, try to find an area where the sun is in the morning and there is partial shade in the afternoon.
Make sure to work in plenty of mature compost to give your spinach plenty of nourishment as it grows. Also, aim for neutral soil with a pH between 6.5 to 7.0.
In order to create a growing bed, you must first remove all weeds and leftover plant debris. After that, you need to add several inches of finished compost to the soil and work it in until it’s about 6-inches deep. If the weather has been dry, it’s a good idea to prepare and water the bed the day before you sow seeds or transplant seedlings.
How to Plant Spinach
Seeds can be sown directly in the garden or started indoors and transplanted for an earlier harvest. Seeds take about 7 to 10 days to sprout and have the best germination rate at a soil temperature between 55 to 65?F.
Starting Spinach Seeds Indoors
You should start seeds indoors 6 weeks before the average last frost date for a spring harvest. For a fall crop, start seeds about 8 weeks before the average first frost date.
To start your seeds, fill your seed starter containers with damp seed starting mix to within 1/2 inch of the top of the container. Sow several seeds on top of the soil, then cover with a light dusting of the potting mix.
Spray the top of the soil with water, and put a humidity dome over the containers to keep the moisture in.Put the trays in a warm place or use a heat mat for seedlings.The seeds will sprout in 7 to 10 days.
After the seeds have germinated, take the tray off of the heat source and put the seedlings under grow lights. The lights should be positioned a few inches above the tray. If you don’t have grow lights, you can place the tray near a south-facing window. Spinach needs to be exposed to 6-12 hours of sunlight or artificial light every day.
Your spinach seedlings are ready to be transplanted when they are easily able to pop out of their container. Be sure to harden them off and transplant them outdoors once the soil warms up and there is no longer any danger of a heavy frost.
If you start your seedlings indoors, or if you buy transplants from a greenhouse, it’s a good idea to harden them off before you plant them outdoors.
After your seedlings have adjusted to being outdoors, they are ready to be transplanted into their permanent location in the garden. Prepare your garden beds ahead of time by watering them thoroughly the day before you plant, if the weather has been dry. Also, make sure to water your seedlings so the roots are well hydrated.
To have the easiest time transplanting, pick a day when it’s cloudy and there’s no wind. Do the transplanting in the late afternoon or evening so your plants won’t have to deal with the sun as well.
The seed package should be consulted in order to determine the appropriate distance between each hole that should be dug for the specific variety of spinach being grown.
Remove the seedlings from the container. Place them in the holes. Lightly firm the soil around the plants. Water well after planting. Keep the soil damp until the plants become established. Properly hardened off plants will not be harmed by light frosts.
Direct Sowing Seeds
Seeds should be sown in early spring, once the chance of heavy frost has passed and the ground has dried. Seeds may germinate if the soil temperature is at least 40 degrees Fahrenheit, but the ideal soil temperature is between 55 and 65 degrees Fahrenheit.
To plant your seeds, first prepare the garden by making sure the soil is shallow, damp, and loose. Then sow your seeds in rows that are spaced 12 to 18 inches apart, with each seed about 1/2-inch deep. Lightly cover the seeds with soil, then water gently. Be sure to keep the soil moist until the seeds have sprouted and become established.
The amount of time it takes for the seeds to germinate varies depending on the type of seed and the temperature of the soil. Once the plants have reached 2 inches in height, thin out the seedlings so that they are 3 to 4 inches apart from each other.
With succession planting, you can have a new crop of spinach every few weeks rather than all at once.
You can have a steady supply of spinach by planting a round of seeds every 2 to 3 weeks, or by planting different varieties that mature at different times.
If you love baby spinach greens, you should sow spinach seeds every 2 weeks for a continuous harvest until the weather warms up and the day length reaches 14 hours.
To ensure a continuous supply of spinach throughout fall, sow seeds every two weeks, beginning 10 weeks before the first frost and continuing up to the last expected frost date.
Managing Pests and Disease
Spinach is great because it doesn’t get pests and diseases easily.
The greens will be less likely to get sick if they are not growing next to other plants.
There are a few potential issues to watch out for.
If the plant is left in standing water, it can develop fungal infections. Alternatively, if the top two inches of soil aren’t allowed to dry out completely between waterings, the plant can also develop fungal infections.
If you see yellow spots on the leaves that grow larger and become tan and dry to the touch, this may be a sign of downy mildew.
White rust is a disease that affects plants. It is characterized by yellow spots on the upper leaves and white pustules on the undersides.
If your plants are affected with a disease, you can remove the infected leaves and throw them away. If the disease is severe, you may need to get rid of the plants and start over with fresh soil.
Before bringing starts home from the nursery, check for aphids. These small, soft-bodied insects love to eat spinach!
They are not much of a problem in small numbers, but you should remove any leaves that are infested and spray the plant with neem oil to prevent the infestation from growing.
The spinach crown mite can cause damage to your plant by eating tiny holes in the leaves and causing deformities.
The tiny holes are a sign that you have an infestation of mites, which are difficult to see.
If you have mites on your spinach, neem oil can help get rid of them. You can use it up to a day before you harvest the spinach, but make sure to wash the leaves well before you eat them.
Harvesting and Preserving
Even if you’re not growing “Double Choice,” you can still harvest your spinach when it’s between three and five inches tall.
Or, wait until the plant is between eight and 12 inches tall to harvest it.
To harvest, simply pinch the leaf off at the point where the stem meets the base of the leaf, or a little bit further down the stem.
This method allows you to take up to half the leaves from a single plant at a time, returning in a week or two to collect the remaining leaves.
You can cut the entire plant at once by using sharp kitchen scissors. Gather the leaves in one hand and cut above the soil line with the other.
You should store your fresh spinach unwashed in a zip-top bag until you’re ready to eat it – which you should do approximately five to seven days after the harvest date.
After washing the leaves, put them in a gallon-sized freezer bag with a locking or zipping top. They will be good to use in smoothies and soups for up to six months.