Spinach is an easy-to-grow cool weather vegetable that
grows best in the spring or the fall.
Spinach can be planted as soon as the soil can
be worked in early spring. Because spinach seeds are fairly small,
the garden bed must be worked until the soil particles are fine textured
and loose. Avoid working
the soil when it is wet, for this will cause clumping. In our region
spinach can be planted as early as March, though it may be preferable
to wait until April.
Spinach will grow in a variety of soils, but best results are achieved
in a rich, non-acidic soil. It requires a steady supply of moisture.
Directly seed the spinach about ten seeds to the foot and cover with
one-half inch of soil.
After the seedlings become 3-4 inches tall, thin to 6 inches apart.
As the spinach plants mature, harvest only the outer, larger leaves so
that the plants will continue to grow. For a continuous supply, make
small new plantings every week or two until early May.
Fortunately, spinach is bothered by relatively few pests, though slugs
are sometimes a problem when conditions are wet.
Spinach can again be successfully grown in the
fall, but it is more difficult. The fall crop needs to be planted in
late August or early September when air and soil temperatures are still
seeds may not germinate well.
One technique that is helpful is to water the row of seeds and cover
it with a board. The seed bed needs to be inspected daily and the
board removed immediately after any germination has occurred.
For an extra early spring crop spinach can be planted from mid-October
until the first of November and left to overwinter. It is helpful
to protect the overwintering spinach seedlings with a floating row cover,
but it is not essential. As the weather warms in the spring, the
overwintered spinach plants will grow quickly and can be harvested as
early and March or April.
There are numerous varieties of spinach, from those with nearly flat
leaves to those with heavily savoyed or crinkled leaves. My personal
favorite is Tyee, which is mildly savoyed and has an excellent flavor.
Whether consumed cooked or raw, spinach is a delicious, nutritious vegetable
that should be planted in every backyard garden.