WHEN TO PLANT

  • If you’re growing organic spinach, it grows best in the cooler weather at the beginning and end of your area’s growing season
  • Spinach seed can be planted once the ground is workable (which may be up to 8 weeks before last frost date)
  • Longer days cause spinach to go to seed (bolting) more rapidly, so planting spinach as early as possible is advised
  • Consecutively plant spinach every 7 to 10 days during the early spring
  • Stop planting once the warm weather plants go outside (such as peppers and tomatoes)
  • You can start growing spinach again in late summer for a fall crop.

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WHERE TO PLANT

  • Growing spinach works best in full sun in early spring
  • As spring progresses, plant consecutive plantings in partial shade to protect the plants from the increasing heat, and to slow the bolting process
  • Plant spinach behind a crop like corn or pole beans that will grow taller than your spinach

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PREPARING THE SOIL

  • Spinach has a deep tap root so till the soil at least 12″ deep
  • Provide generous amounts of organic matter to keep the soil well-aerated
  • Although spinach will grow in a wide variety of soils, it performs best in rich, organic matter such as compost with the addition of alfalfa meal
  • Prepare your planting area in the fall so you can plant seeds in the spring as soon as the ground thaws
  • The optimal pH levels for growing spinach should be between 6.5 and 7.5

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SEEDS AND GERMINATION

  • Your seeds should be good for up to 5 years after your purchase date if they’re stored in a cool, dry, location
  • Once you’ve planted your spinach, it typically takes about 43 to 50 days until your plants are mature
  • For a higher germination rate, place spinach seeds between wet paper towels and place in a Zip-loc bag; keep the bag in the refrigerator for 5-7 days
  • Seeds will germinate best when daytime temperatures are around 60ºF; the young plants will tolerate nighttime temperatures as low as 40ºF
  • When temperatures rise shade the soil until germination

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GETTING STARTED INDOORS (and transplanting)

  • Seeds can be started in flats 3-4 weeks before the last frost date in temperatures 70ºF or below
  • For quicker germination, see the chilling method in the above section titled “Seeds and Germination”

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SOWING AND GROWING (Planting seeds directly into the garden)

  • Rather than planting a large spinach crop in early spring (unless you’re planning to freeze spinach for later eating), we recommend planting smaller batches every 7 to 10 days. This will provide you maximum availability of fresh spinach
  • If a frost is predicted after planting, cover with a row cover and welcome the frost as temperature drops mean sweeter spinach
  • In more temperate climates, the use of a cold frame can help you plant spinach crops year around
  • In warmer climates spinach plants need shelter from the sun
  • Plant spinach in the shade of taller crops such as corn or pole beans
  • Thin young seedlings to 6” apart once two true leaves have formed
  • Once plants develop four true leaves give them a boost of fish emulsion or foliar fertilizer to promote new growth and a sweeter leaf
  • Jenny’s Tip: We discovered a new liquid organic leaf spray fertilizer this year called Organic Garden Miracle™ – this product increases plant sugar production in your plant, naturally. Plant sugar makes a stronger, bigger, better and sweeter plant. You might want to check it out.
  • Remove large developed leaves to postpone bolting
  • Remove any brown leaves; these are not good for eating and sap the plant of it’s strength
  • If leaves become large and only a few tender leaves are forming, cut the entire plant 1” above soil level; this will encourage the plant to grow another crop of leaves
  • When bolting, the plant will begin to form a center stalk. At this stage leaves become bitter tasting
  • When growing spinach in late summer, plant more seeds than you did in the spring; the increased heat causes germination to be more sporadic

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WATERING

  • Keep moisture levels moist but not soggy
  • Allowing soil to dry out will encourage plants to bolt

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COMPANION PLANTING / ROTATION

  • Growing spinach in your garden benefits most succeeding crops (except legumes) planted in the same location

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WHEN TO HARVEST

  • Harvesting can begin once the plant has developed at least 6 leaves, usually 6-8 weeks after planting
  • Pick leaves from the outside of the plant as soon as they are big enough to use (think of baby spinach leaves)

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STORAGE

  • Spinach can be dried in a food dehydrator
  • Dry unwashed leaves until they break easily and store in a paper bag or container
  • Avoid folds in the leaves
  • Spinach can also be frozen
  • Blanche 1 to 2 minutes, then cool, place in quart size Zip-loc bags and store in freezer

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COMMON PESTS AND PROBLEMS

  • Since spinach grows best in very cool temperatures, pests are usually not an issue
  • If any spotted cucumber beetles are present, handpick them off the plant and destroy them
  • Over-watering spinach leads to mildew problems

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