Growing Spinach For Its Tasty & Nutritious Leaves

by Polly

306572924_5f08edd65b_mGrowing spinach as a health food is well deserved. It has the highest amount of vitamins A and B2 of any common vegetable and is loaded with iron, calcium, and protein. It’s excellent as a salad or cooking green.

Spinach likes full sun in cool climates, but in hotter areas, give it some afternoon shade. Test your soil’s pH before you plant: Spinach rebels if its home is either too sweet or too sour. A pH of 6.5 to 7.5 is just right.

Like any other leaf crop, spinach needs nitrogen to develop well, so dig in plenty of com-post, because spinach likes all the organic matter it can get.

Spinach doesn’t like to be transplanted, so I always sow seeds in the garden as soon as the soil can be prepared in the spring. I set them in the ground 1/2 inch deep and 2 inches apart. And,

When the seedlings get their second set of leaves, I give them a drink of fish fertilizer. As soon as the little guys are about 4 inches tall, I thin them out so they’re 6 inches apart.

Besides being picky about heat, spinach is sensitive to the amount of light it gets. No matter how well you tend your crop or how cool the temperature stays, the plants will start to bolt when they get more than 14 to 16 hours of daylight.

For my later- spring plantings, I try to slow down the process by growing bolt- resistant varieties.

As with most vegetables, don’t plant spinach in the same areas every year – rotate the beds so that nothing in the chard family (like beets) gets planted in the same bed that spinach was last growing (and vice versa).

This keeps any diseases or insect infestations from getting out of control

Growing spinach with kids is fun, because it can be sown early in the spring, when the little people are dying to get outside, and it grows very fast.

This makes it a perfect candidate for a child’s own garden, and once they learn that they can pull off the young leaves and eat them, you might have a hard time stopping them from devouring the whole row!

That bed of little dark green plants looks so pretty that it can be tempting to just let them be, but don’t –  plants that don’t have enough elbowroom tend to bolt. Besides, just think of the salad you’ll be able to make with all of that tender baby spinach!

Once the leaves start getting large, you can either harvest the outer leaves regularly, or wait until the whole head is big and cut the entire plant.

I recommend doing both – harvest half or more as leaves, and leave some alone to grow into full sized bunches. But watch out, as you might be surprised by how much spinach you get if you let all the bunches mature.

Sow the next succession of seeds between a week and two weeks after the first ones germinate, and continue to plant more at intervals through the spring for fresh spinach all season long.

Once each planting is established, mulch between rows to help keep the soil cool and moist. Don’t put the mulch directly up against the baby plants – they’ll have a better chance of surviving both slugs and rot that way.

Rinse the leaves or the bunches in cool water and store in the fridge if you aren’t going to eat them right away. For the most nutrition and best flavor, don’t store spinach for more than a couple of days before eating it.

Want  to know more  about growing spinach? Then, post your question below.

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Yours truly, Polly – Organic Gardener

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