Growing Spinach in the Home Garden
Make space in your fall or winter garden for this easy-to-grow, cool-season crop
Spinach is a cool-season, annual crop that’s easy to grow, so make space for it in your fall or winter garden! While the spinach sitting in the grocery aisle may look innocent enough, it’s actually one of the most chemically (pesticide)-laden crops today. Why not grow your own at home and know for a fact that you’re serving clean, fresh, and nutritional spinach to your family?
Planting and Tending Spinach
Starting spinach seeds indoors just before fall is a good way to get a leg up on the cool growing season. However, spinach seed germinates easily so many people just plant them directly into the garden bed without any problems. Sow them 1/2 inch deep and 1 inch apart in the early fall or spring. Once seedlings reach an inch or so tall, thin them out so that they end up 4 to 6 inches apart from each other.
Spinach is an excellent candidate for succession planting. Simply sow a new row of seeds about every week or so for several weeks. Once the temperatures begin to climb, you may be forced to stop as most spinach becomes unhappy in the heat. When temps go up, spinach wants to bolt (flower and set seed), which ends the lifecycle of the plant.
This is one crop that thrives in soil that’s rich in organic matter. In fact, you may not have to fertilize all the season if you work some excellent compost into the bed. If the leaves start to become light green, feel free to give them a high-nitrogen fertilizer boost. Fair warning: if they have great, green color skip the feeding because the flavor will be affected by over-fertilization.
Mulch the base of the plants with straw or leaves to help keep the soil moist and cool. Spinach likes regular water, but try to avoid the leaves so that mildew isn’t encouraged. Some people harvest the plant all at once by cutting the entire thing off at the base; and others just slowly harvest the leaves by taking the outer ones first until the heat sets in and the plant gives out. Most spinach varieties mature around 30-45 days.
- Bloomsdale Long Standing is a very popular heirloom variety because it’s a big producer and matures quickly. Bloomsdale’s leaves are crinkled (savoyed), dark, and glossy.
- Baby’s Leaf Hybrid has flat, tender, sweet leaves that mature early.
- Tyee is a vigorous grower and bolts very late. Leaves are dark green and semi-savoyed.
- Indian Summer has high-yielding, Dark green, savoyed leaves with excellent flavor.
- Melody’s dark-green, ruffled leaves are exceptionally disease-resistant.