Growing Spinach: How To Plant, Grow And Harvest Spinach
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Growing spinach in your home garden is really easy! Spinach is a cold hardy leafy green vegetable that is one of the first crops you can start planing in the early spring.
Growing Spinach In Your Home Garden
Spinach is one of the earliest crops you can plant in your garden in the spring. You can plant the seeds directly in the garden as soon as late February as long as you provide cover. Using floating row covers or plastic tunnels will help to give the spinach ahead start.
If you’re not using covers in your garden then wait until April to plant spinach. Once the snow has melted and the ground can be worked you can start direct seeding your spinach.
The best soil temperatures for germination are 5–20 C (45–70 F). Once the soil temperature reaches over 20 C it can lower the germination rate of the seeds.
It’s a good guideline to plant your spinach 6 weeks before your last frost date in the spring to give it enough time to grow and harvest before the hot summer weather starts.
When growing spinach in the spring it’s best to choose a growing area in your garden that has full sun to part shade.
Plant the spinach seeds 1/2 an inch to 1 inch deep and 2 inches apart. Once they have grown to about 2 inches tall thin the plants to 3–4 inches apart. If you want plants with really large leaves thin the plants to a 6-inch spacing.
Spinach likes the cool, moist soil conditions that are common in early spring gardens. To help extend your harvest sow new plantings every 2 weeks. This will help you to have a continuous harvest of leaves from new plants.
Since spinach doesn’t like to grow in warm weather you should stop your new plantings by mid-June. Any plants started after this time will likely taste bitter and bolt quickly in the hot summer weather.
Caring For Spinach Plants
Spinach is a heavy feeder to help it grow well apply lots of compost or well-rotted manure to your planting bed 2 weeks before planting. If you can it’s even better to add the manure and compost the fall before planting.
If you want to grow spinach for larger leaves then you should plant your plants 6 inches apart in the garden. While you can plant them closer if you want to grow baby spinach overcrowding can make them more likely to bolt.
Shady areas of your garden are the perfect places to grow spinach in especially if you want to try growing spinach in the summer. Both the heat and longer daylight hours will cause spinach to bolt quickly.
If you can keep them growing in a cool, moist and shady area it will help to extend your growing season.
Spinach also likes a lot of water. If it hasn’t been raining much make sure to provide at least 1 inch of water a week. You want the soil to stay moist without being soggy.
Other than thinning and harvesting spinach doesn’t require much work. Since it is shallow rooted it’s best not to cultivate around the plants if possible.
Instead, you can prevent weeds by applying a thick layer of much around the plants. This will also help to retain the moisture and keep the soil cooler.
If you’re wondering “How do you pick spinach?” it’s really very easy! There are 2 ways that you can harvest your spinach.
The first way to harvest spinach is to simply cut the entire plant off leaving about 1 inch of stem above the soil level. After harvesting keep the spinach roots well watered and they will start to regrow.
Harvesting in this way you will have another large harvest in about a month.
The second way to harvest spinach is the easiest and my favourite! As the spinach is growing you simply pick off the larger leaves when they are 3–4 inches long from the outside of the plant. Leaving the smaller inner leaves to keep growing.
If you harvest spinach in the pick and come again method you are able to get weekly pickings from your plantings and a much larger harvest time.
If your weather starts to warm up it’s a good idea to harvest all of your remain spinach plants as the heat will cause them to bolt.
Pests & Diseases
Downy mildew on the leaves can be a problem. To prevent this provide lots of ventilation for the plants by not overcrowding your growing beds. Spacing the plants at 4–6 inches apart and keeping them well picked will help.
If mildew is a problem your struggling with often you can also switch to watering with soaker hoses and drip lines instead of overhead watering. Keeping the leaves dry will discourage mildew growth.
Leaf miners can be a real problem for leafy greens especially thought that are grown in cooler weather. If you see long thin trails of transparency starting through your leaves you likely have leaf miners.
You can prevent leaf miner flies from landing on your plants by keeping them covered with floating row covers. If need you can spray your plants with neem oil as a repellent.
Overall spinach is one of the easiest vegetables you can grow in your garden. It loves the cooler weather of early spring and after a long winter, it’s so nice to have fresh greens to harvest that are a real powerhouse of nutrition.