We all know spinach is good for us. It might not make us pop muscles like Popeye, but spinach is packed with fiber and vitamins—A, C, E, K, B6—and calcium, folate, potassium, iron, and magnesium, Spinach is a perfect vegetable. Fresh spinach is a fantastic addition to salads, or a great way to boost the fullness factor of omelets and sandwiches. Spinach is a cool weather crop and can be planted and grown alongside Swiss chard and beets. Because it grows fast, it’s also a great way to introduce kids to gardening – I’ve found that gardening makes my kids more interested in those leafy greens they used to find unappealing!
Planting and Harvest
Because spinach loves nitrogen, it’s best to loosen the soil and add nitrogen-rich fertilizer prior to planting. Spinach can be planted and harvested in most growing zones twice a year, so plant 4-6 weeks before the last frost in spring and 6-8 weeks before the first frost in fall. Once the daylight is longer than 14 hours in spring, spinach will bolt; heat also speeds up bolting, so perhaps plant a non-bolting variety if you want a longer spring harvest. In warmer climates, spinach does well when planted in the shade of taller crops, such as beans and corn or under trellises. Once planted and the seeds sprout, take time to thin seedlings to 4 to 6 inches apart, as overcrowding will stunt growth and encourage plants to go to seed. Keep the soil moist but not soggy, as water stress can also make spinach plants bolt.
Harvesting spinach usually happens 6 to 8 weeks after planting, or as soon as leaves are big enough to eat. Only remove the outer leaves and allow the center leaves to grow larger, which allows the plant to keep producing. As the weather heats up in spring, and your plant gets ready to bolt, pull the entire plant and enjoy the leaves before they get bitter.
One of the easiest varieties to grow is Spinach Space Hybrid. Ready 40 days, Space Hybrid has high yields and a long harvest window. It also has resistance to heat, bolting, downy mildew, and other diseases. The small, smooth rounded leaves are a different shape for spinach- and very tasty.
We’re pretty excited about our exclusive spinach – Gurney’s Goliath Spinach. Slow to bolt, with a sweet, mild flavor, this variety is perfect for both spring and fall planting, and ready to harvest in 40 days. It rivals our old favorite, Vital Green.
What’s your favorite variety? Have spinach story to share? Sound off in the comments!