Wondering how to grow spinach and care for them? From choosing the right variety to growing it, this detailed guide covers everything spinach.
Did you know spinach is packed with Vitamin A and C, iron, magnesium, B6, and calcium? Plus, it goes amazingly well in salads or simply sauteed with some lemon and garlic. In fact, there are a whopping 31+ ways you can use spinach in.
To top it all, it is a relatively easy plant to grow. So if you have a garden and you are looking to grow your first plant, what better than the goodness and relative ease of spinach, right?
Most varieties of spinach grow best in moderate conditions and while easy it still requires some care which can be confusing for first-time gardeners.
But don’t worry, as always, YardSurfer has your back. Here’s everything you need to know to grow spinach and care for them.
How to Grow Spinach and Care for Them
Step 1: Find the right variety
The first and foremost step is to choose the right variety of spinach. Spinach is divided into 3 categories: Savoy Spinach, Semi-Savoy Spinach, and Smooth Leaf Spinach. Then there are also some alternate types like New Zealand Spinach and Malabar Spinach.
And the type you choose comes down to the climatic conditions and personal preference.
For example, if you live in hot conditions Malabar Spinach and New Zealand Spinach are best-suited for such conditions. Malabar Spinach has a mild flavor with a red stem which adds color to the garden.
On the other hand, New Zealand Spinach has juicy, succulent leaves so if you love having green juices with spinach; this is the spinach for you.
For cold conditions, Savoy Spinach like Bloomsdale is ideal. It has a thick, crinkled leaf with a robust flavor and gives a large yield.
If you are tired of cleaning the new harvest and want something more hassle-free in your garden, go with smooth leaf spinaches like Space Spinach.
Its smooth leaf texture makes it easy to clean. Plus, it lasts longer than other varieties of spinach and thus, is also sold as frozen or canned.
Though my favorite smooth leaf spinach is Red Carnival. Not only do the red veins give the garden a vibrant look but it also blooms the fastest.
Step 2: Get the planting area ready
- Good Sunlight is important
Like any plant, even spinach needs its daily dose of vitamins and nutrients and if you paid attention in biology classes, you’d know the sun is one of the best sources for that.
Thus, make sure you find a spot that has maximum sunlight as it will help increase the yield. Slightly shaded areas work as well but the yield won’t be as impressive.
- Do not flood the solid
Yes, plants need water and while flooding works with plants like tomato, spinach needs a moderate amount.
But I have multiple plants in the garden, so how do I manage the amount of water? No worries, that’s where raised gardens come in handy. Building them takes a bit of time but they are well worth it.
Though when doing so, make sure you use Cedarwood as it is water-resistant. Oh, but if you do not want to spend time on a raised garden, note that spinach has smaller roots and thus, even a smaller area away from other plants should do the trick. This is one of the best tips on how to grow spinach.
- pH of the soil matters
For a spinach plant, the best type of soil is that on the acidic side with a pH of around 6.5 to 7. The main nutrients to keep an eye on are calcium and magnesium. For low magnesium levels, add dolomitic limestone and if high, go with calcitic limestone.
Limestones need 2-3 months to be absorbed by the soil so make sure you add it well in advance and check the pH again. If normal, time to move to the next step,
- Fertilize the soil
Spinach loves nitrogen-rich soil so make sure you are using fertilizers with high amounts of nitrogen. Apart from that, organic manure, alfalfa meal, soybean meal are good alternatives.
When adding in the fertilizers do not throw in any rocks or hard clumps of soil. And no, you do not need to use your hands for it, a bow rake is the best tool for the job.
Also, rid the soil of any weed or other plants growing in the area. That’s because it increases the chances of the spinach plant catching a disease. Plus, it may feed on all the nutrients leaving your spinach plant weak and with low productivity.
Step 3: Planting the Spinach
The next step is deciding on the best time to plant. Since most spinach plants prefer a cooler climate the ideal time would be either fall or spring. We recommend the fall season since the plants deliver a more reliable yield.
Overwinter is another good option. While the winters are dormant, you can expect an early harvest in the following year.
Sow seeds the right way
One of the most important things is to ensure the seeds are new. Plus, you do not want the plants to be competing with each other for space so leave ample room between them.
The ideal distance for most spinach plants is about 2-4-inches but if you are planting seedlings of the space spinach, the distance should be 12 to 18 inches so the roots have enough space to expand.
Seedlings can easily be bought from a nearby nursery but it isn’t what we recommend, fresh seeds are the way to go.
That is because you will need to transplant seedlings which can be a tedious process and also result in damage to the plant’s roots.
Once you have planted the seeds cover it with soil but do not make it too compact. A light pat over the soil should be enough as long as it is completely covered and not exposed to the winds.
Mulch the soil
You want the soil to remain in the best of shape and mulch ensures just that by trapping in the moisture. Furthermore, it also hinders weed growth. Hay, straw, leaf, or grass are ideal materials for mulching.
Don’t forget to water the plant
Like we mentioned above, watering any plant is important but with spinach, it has to be controlled. Do not leave the hose loose in the garden. Either use sprinklers or a water can.
If the temperature is on the higher side, you’ll need to keep the soil and surrounding area cool. For this, we’d suggest using cold frames or heavy row covers. Also, as a backup, plant a few additional seeds.
How to take care of the Spinach Plant
Now that you know how to plant spinach, it is also important to care for them so you get a good yield and a lush, green garden. So here’s what you should be doing.
Tip 1: In case you haven’t been able to space out the plants correctly, no issues. You can still prevent them from fighting for space by trimming them down as they turn into seedlings. This will ensure better growth and, in turn, better productivity.
Tip 2: We’ve said this once and we’ll say it again; spinach does not require drenched soil as it can hinder growth but, don’t forget to water it either. Make sure the soil is damp with a sprinkler or water can at least 2-3 times or more depending on the weather conditions.
Tip 3: If the temperature in your area goes above 80℉ (26°C) consider setting up a shade for the soil using any cloth since most spinach types cannot bear the heat and are likely to burn.
Tip 4: To protect the plant from slugs and snails sprinkle diatomaceous close to the plants.
Tip 5: The spinach plant isn’t growing at the speed it should? Nitrogen-based organic fertilizers can help. Just make sure you follow the guides on the label and water it regularly.
Tip 6: Just like in the summers, the plant will need protection in the winters as well. Low tunnels are the ideal way for this and we’d recommend PVC pipes since they leave room for ventilation as well.
Tips to Harvesting the Spinach Plant
The first question to answer is when is the right time to harvest a spinach plant?
Spinach plants are ready for harvest when the leaves are about 4 inches in length and 2-4 inches wide. And it should be around this size in the 7th or 8th week.
Now, there are two ways to harvest the plant.
One, you can use your fingers and remove the leaves by pinching at the base of the petiole or use shears.
The other method would be to remove the entire plant from the soil. And since spinach has looser roots, it’s easier to pull out (you don’t have to be a hulk for this one).
But we’d recommend you snip the leaves off rather than pulling the plants out as it wouldn’t kill the plant entirely. In fact, the inner leaves would grow bigger increasing the chances of a better yield (you can’t say no to that now, can you?).
How to Store Harvested Spinach
Since you will harvest more than you’d need at one time, storing the remainder is important. If left unattended, the leaves won’t last for more than 2-3 days so here’s what you should do.
Make sure you clean the leaves to remove any grit. Once cleaned, dry them quickly by pressing it with a soaking towel and put it into the fridge where it can easily last 6-7 days. But do not fold or bruise the leaves.
If you want it to last longer, consider freezing it or drying it if you have a dehydrator. Once dried, grind it and use the powdered spinach as a garnish on baked bread and soups.
Popeye loves spinach and for good reasons. It has everything to make you stronger and brighter so whether for you or your kids, growing spinach in your garden is sure to be a great decision.
And with our detailed guide, you know everything there is on how to grow spinach and care for it. If you have more questions about growing spinach or would like to share a tip or two, do hit us up.