Gardening Tips and Tricks

Growing Spinach

Growing SpinachHow To Grow Spinach

Spinach has to be the perfect plant for the Northwest, as it LOVES our climate. Therefore, we love growing spinach and usually plant it every 3 weeks for a continuous supply. It’s hearty, packed with iron, and hey – if Popeye loves it, who wouldn’t?

If you have kids that have a hard time eating it, have them grow spinach in the garden. You can’t even compare it to the store bought stuff, or even worse, canned. When they’re out in the garden, growing spinach on their own, it will give them a sense of pride and be much more willing to try it.

Spinach also tastes great fresh in a salad, I almost prefer it to cooked.

Planting SpinachPlanting Spinach

As usual, before you start growing spinach, you need to add a good amount of compost or rotted manure to the soil. Then add a moderate amount of organic fertilizer and mix it into the soil. How much? Depends on the size of your bed, if you follow the recommendations on the packaging you'll be just fine. I'd say about 2-3 cups for a 4'x4' bed. We usually use a 5-5-5 mix as it's pretty gentle, you can get it in big bags, and you can use it for most of your veggies. Sow the seeds 1/2" deep and 1" apart as you'll be thinning them later. Try to get organic seeds, you'll feel better about yourself. After all, you're not truly growing organic spinach unless you start with organic seed. Once planted, give them a gentle, deep watering. I say gentle since it's easy to wash out those tiny seedlings. Just be easy on them and take your time. Keep them evenly moist until they germinate and you're on your way to growing spinach! Also note that spinach sometimes will over-winter quite nicely in the Northwest with our relatively mild winters, so we tend to plant more than usual in the Fall. It will give you a good head start when spring arrives!

Caring for SpinachCaring For Spinach

Once your seedlings have sprouted, just keep the soil evenly moist and a watchful eye. Thin to 8" after they have at least 1 true leaf as you don't want your plants to be overcrowded and fighting for water and nutrients. Same goes for weeds for obvious reasons, keep 'em out. As your plants mature and you notice that the leaves are turning yellow, you can give them a boost of organic fertilizer. Fish fertilizer or compost tea works well, though we've rarely had to do this. Otherwise, just let them grow and do their thing. One trick for growing spinach is not to over water them, as they can pick up funky molds. We let the bed dry out slightly in-between waterings. However, if you let them dry out too much they could bolt. Here's a good rule of thumb: When the top 1/4" of soil is dry, it's time to water. When your growing spinach, or most plants in your garden, it's best to water early in the morning if you can. Watering in the middle of a hot day will just evaporate before it does any good. Watering the the evening is better, but it can invite thirsty slugs and bugs overnight. Since they're having a drink, they usually decide to have a snack as well. Don't loose sleep over it, as long as they get watered, just remember that early morning is best practice.

Harvesting Spinach

Like I said before, if your kids won't eat spinach from the store, have them try spinach from the garden - you might be surprised! When the leaves look big and tasty, you can cut the plant about an inch above the soil with a sharp, clean knife. Give it a good rinse and off to the kitchen you go with your fresh organic home grown spinach! Here's the best part, after harvested sometimes it will re-sprout for a second crop! Of course, if everything went well and you planted enough, you won't want a second crop as you'll be growing spinach out of your ears!

Spinach Pests

Symphylans, Aphids, Flea Beetles, Slugs (Aaack!)

Spinach Diseases

Downy mildew, White Rust, Leaf Spot

Spinach Friends

Spinach grows well with strawberries, believe it or not.

Spinach Varieties

Bloomsdale, America, Olympia, Tyee, Slow Bolt

Tips For Growing Spinach

Too much Nitrogen can give the leaves a funny taste, so only fertilize when absolutely necessary.

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