Growing Spinach - advice on how to grow Spinach
Spinach is relatively easy to grow in cool climates and it is packed with nutrients such as iron, protein, vitamin A and chlorophyll.
Whether raw in salads or lightly steamed spinach is a suitable accompanyment to a wide range of dishes.
Germination of spinach seeds can take anything between a week and 2 weeks.
Dig the soil to around 30cm depth as this is how far the plants tap root can develop. Work some organic compost or manure into the soil to help provide the necessary nutrients for growth.
Because of the benefit of organic matter cover crops and green manure crops are beneficial prior to planting spinach.
Check the soils PH and if necessary add lime.
You can plant spinach in early spring. To stagger your crop over summer you can plant part rows every few weeks. The last planting should be about 50-60 days before the first frosts.
Sow your seedlings / seeds around 7cm apart in rows about 30-40cm apart.
Position your spinach plants in a position that does not experience high temperatures. Spinach grows well in partial to full sun.
Spinach likes a moist but not waterlogged soil. Using a mulch of straw or grass clippings can help to retain moisture levels in the soil.
The soil should contain a good amount of organic matter to provide the spinach with the nutrients it requires.
Spinach doesn't like acidic soils, a good PH is around 6.3 -6.8. Add the appropriate amount of lime to the soil if necessary.
Make sure the soil is moist. An inch of water per week is adequate when there is little rainfall. Thin out your spinach seedlings as required but try not to damage the roots of the plants you leave in the soil.
Effects of an over acidic soil can be seen in the yellowing of the edges of seedling leaves, low germination rates and slow growth.
Spinach is ready to harvest at about 40-50 days after planting.
The spinach leaves can be harvested whenever they look big enough and ready for your salads etc. Make sure to start picking leaves on the outside of the plant, the inner leaves will then continue to grow and produce a new crop. Alternatively you can harvest the whole plant.
You should aim to eat the spinach straight after picking and washing in cool water. You can store the washed leaves in the fridge for a few days but the taste and nutrient content is best after picking.
Slow bolting varieties are varieties that take longer to develop a seed stalk and thus focus more growth towards the leaves. Short days and cool temperatures result in better crop yield as bolting is deterred whereas long days and higher temperatures encourage bolting.