Spinach is the type of plant that will make a perfect addition to any garden, especially if you are the type of grower that enjoys harvesting nutritious plants. A lesser-known fact is that this plant is not only great for its culinary uses, but also for to its ornamental purposes.
Spinach is a friendly companion to have around, demanding little to no attention from you to grow healthy and happy.
There are several types of spinach that you can grow depending on your expectations, preferences, and climate. If you live in a region with cool winters, you should look for spinach plants that overwinter nicely, such as ‘Cold Resistant Savoy’, ‘Bloomsdale Long Standing’, and ‘Tyee’.
In case you prefer to plant your spinach in autumn, you might want to look for cultivars like ‘Avon’, ‘Melody’, ‘Indian Summer’, or ‘Razzle Dazzle’. There are even varieties like ‘Nordic IV’, ‘Wolter’, and ‘Olympia, that resist fungal diseases better.
And if you dream about a spinach plant in a cute container, the most interesting ones include ‘Baby’s Leaf Hybrid’ and ‘Melody’.
Are you curious to find out more about the popular and delicius Spinacia oleracea a.k.a spinach? Keep reading our guide!
- It is believed that spinach originated about 2000 years ago in ancient Persia. From there, folks introduced this plant to ancient China and India as the “Persian vegetable”.
- Spinach comes along with high nutritional value, especially when consumed fresh, steamed, or quickly boiled. It does not lose its nutritious nature even when it is frozen, and you can use it even after three to six months.
- This plant is a rich source of vitamin A, vitamin C, vitamin K, iron, manganese, magnesium, and folate. Spinach is also a moderate source of vitamin B6, vitamin E, potassium, and calcium.
- Spinach makes for an excellent addition to a generous amount of culinary recipes. You can use it in soups and sauces, along with meat, rice, pasta, and many others.
- Besides its wide range of culinary purposes, spinach plays an important part in health benefits. It is a great leaf vegetable for eye health, high blood pressure levels, oxidative stress, and even cancer.
- Spinach can be a lovely ornamental member in a landscape, doing well in beds, containers, vegetable gardens, and others. This plant is a nice companion for other plants including strawberries, peas, celery, cabbages, onions, Brassicas, or eggplants.
- Fun fact: the creators of the well-known cartoon character Popeye the Sailor Man have portrayed it as having a strong affinity for spinach. In the cartoons, the character becomes physically stronger once it consumes spinach.
- Spinach is a great plant to grow around pets, as it does not produce toxic effects on either cats or dogs if touched or eaten.
Spinach Features: An Overview
- Spinach is an annual (or rarely biennial) leaf vegetable flowering plant that belongs to the Spinacia genus. This leafy plant is also a member of the Amaranthaceae family.
- Depending on the environmental conditions, spinach can reach from 6 to 12 inches (15-30 cm) in height and generally features the same width.
- Its foliage consists of simple, ovate to triangular, green leaves that grow alternately arranged on slightly thick, greenish stems. The leaves vary in size, measuring about one to 12 inches (2-30 cm) in length and 0.4 to 5.9 inches (1-15 cm) in diameter.
- With proper care, spinach may bloom throughout the summer months. During this season, the plant can produce inconspicuous, yellow-green flowers that grow as wide as 0.2 inches (4 mm).
- After the flowering period, the blossoms turn into a tiny, dry, hard, and lumpy fruit cluster of 0.2 to 0.4 inches (5-10 mm) in diameter that comes along with several seeds.
Luckily, spinach is the kind of plant that can withstand almost anything you can give it. This fellow will be more than happy if it receives full sunlight to partial shade. In other words, spinach usually does well with at least four hours of bright and direct light but it could use some protection from harsh afternoon sunlight.
Temperature-wise, spinach is as fantastic as it can be. This plant is cold-hardy in USDA zones 2 to 11, tolerating a wide range of temperatures and weather general conditions. Yet, spinach will thrive in temperatures that range from 50 to 60 °F (10-16 °C).
If you live in a warm area, you might be able to sow spinach seeds in autumn, and then harvest them in winter. But if the ground freeze before this plant reaches maturity, you will have to mulch the seeds with hay to help the plants overwinter better. When the warmth of spring appears, you can get rid of the mulch to allow your spinach to resume its growth.
Spinach performs best in locations with cool and damp conditions, so it can become prone to various fungal diseases. Some of these are downy mildew and fusarium wilt, which are more likely to bother your spinach if it experiences poor air ventilation and very high humidity levels. To avoid possible issues with them, we recommend you plant your spinach so that it gets excellent air circulation and make sure its leaves do not have water on them in the evening.
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- 100 Seeds
- Maturity: 40 Days
- 85% Germination Rate
In general, spinach will have to experience about six weeks of cold temperatures for it to develop from seed to maturity. Spinach seeds require a soil temperature that is somewhat cooler than 70 °F (21 °C) to germinate.
Thus, you should plant your spinach seeds outdoors, directly into the garden, when the time is right in spring. Another great time to sow spinach seeds would be throughout the autumn months once the warmth of summer has gone. Aim to do this when the soil temperature remains above 40 °F (4.4 °C).
Once you have chosen the perfect period to sow spinach seeds, you can even repeat this process every couple of weeks. Sowing spinach seeds regularly in either spring or fall will easily extend your harvest.
Make sure you sow the seeds at one inch (2.5 cm) deep in rows and space them around 12 to 18 inches (30-46 cm) apart. When the seedlings show their first set of true leaves, you can thin the spinach plants to about 6 inches (15 cm) apart.
Now we need to talk about the ideal planting site for this buddy. As a rule, spinach does best in a growing medium that comes along with very sharp drainage. Likewise, this plant prefers loamy substrates that are rich in organic matter.
You can plant spinach outdoors in soil that suits its taste but a container is also a nice option for it if you want to keep it indoors by your side or have it at hand for cooking. In terms of soil pH, it can grow just fine in any type that ranges from 6.5 to 8.
Since spinach is a fairly fast grower, it is only natural for this plant to also be a heavy feeder. Feeding your plant will typically help it grow healthy foliage. Spinach will benefit from a nitrogen boost when you first plant it, so you should mix a nitrogen-high fertilizer into its soil according to package instructions.
After this, you can keep fertilizing your spinach during the season. If you are growing spinach for harvesting purposes, it would be wise to opt for an organic product, such as soy meal or fish emulsion.
Pruning other than harvesting will not be necessary during your spinach’s caring routine. In fact, if a spinach plant gets damaged or has a disease issue, most gardeners prefer to dig the whole plant out of its soil. This process helps you prevent the spinach from affecting the overall health of nearby plants.
Harvesting spinach is not a fussy process, as you can do it as you please without worrying about doing something wrong. However, there are a few tips and tricks you can adopt if you want to enjoy the best harvest out there with this plant.
First things first, it is best to harvest your spinach about 4 to 6 weeks after sowing the seeds. You can begin all the fun whenever the leaves of your spinach are as large as you want them to be. If you are looking for a proper way to harvest this plant, you should know that most growers use the “cut and come again” method.
This consists of harvesting only the older leaves you can find on the outer side of your spinach, then coming back once the leaves from the centre have reached the outer side.
When it comes to what you should exactly harvest, there are no rules! While you can use garden scissors to trim individual leaves off, you can also cut the whole plant down in one round if you dream about a larger harvest. After you have what you want, you can eat spinach fresh or cooked. You can also freeze the spinach harvest for later but try to use it within 3 to 6 months.
Spinach will have the time of its life if you water it as frequently as it must be to keep its soil evenly moist. Still, you will have to pay a bit of extra attention to over-watering, as soggy conditions do not enchant spinach very well.
With spinach, you can aim for about one inch (2.5 cm) of water per week. We suggest you water your spinach several times each week rather than weekly deep watering. If you forget to water your spinach once in a while during the cool times, there is no problem and your plant will forgive you right away.
On the other hand, in warmer conditions, regular watering is mandatory, especially if you are growing your spinach for harvesting purposes.
Spinach is a wonderful herb to have around, providing us with both ornamental value and nutritious benefits. It is super easy to keep this plant around and you can even make more specimens by propagating the one you already have.
In general, the most common way to propagate spinach plants would be from seeds. If you want to use this method, go on and check our planting section for spinach in this guide, as there you will find everything you need to know. In other words, you can sow spinach seeds in either spring or fall, keep the sowing medium constantly damp, and expect germination to occur after a few weeks or so.
Another efficient method to propagate your spinach is through stems. This method will help you skip the time that seeds need to germinate and will even allow you to enjoy a much quicker harvest. Keep in mind, though, that this is not the ordinary stem cutting method you may be using for other plants. For spinach, you will have to pull those stems from the mother plant that still have roots attached to them. You got this!
The best time to propagate your spinach through stems is usually when you decide to harvest it. Look for stems that have roots and pull them gently out of the ground. Make sure you keep the roots as intact as you can because they are very sensitive to disturbances.
Once you have the stems, you can plant them in a potting mix of good quality. Water regularly to maintain this substrate constantly damp and wait for the spinach stems to reward you. After several weeks, you can check the stems to find out if you feel some resistance when tugging on them gently. If this happens, you will know for sure that a strong, healthy root system is there.
Spinach is a versatile plant that will grow in a wide range of environments and without a lot of effort on your part. If you are already growing one or more types of spinach in your garden, do not hesitate to share your experience and maybe even some insight in the comment section! If not, however, this is the perfect time to enrich your garden with a super-healthy leafy plant like spinach. And do not forget to check those varieties on the way, as you can surely find one that fits your taste perfectly!