Investment Fund
OEFFA Policy
Begin Farming
Growers Resources
Seasonal Jobs Program

Spinach, an easy to grow,
cool season crop

By Rick Tomsu

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 warm. Spinach 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.