Growing spinach is not hard and is probably the most nutritious of all leafy greens grown in the home garden. The fact that spinach is super cold hardy makes it a number one crop to grow winter, spring, and fall. As for the summer well you will need to substitute a heat tolerant crop but that is not a problem you can choose from several such as spinach chard, garden sorrel, or lambsquarters all will work well as a substitute.
Spinach varies in size and shape of it’s leaves as well as the texture of the leaves. The savoyed or semi-savoyed types are the ones that have the dark green leaves that are all wrinkled. They are extremely cold tolerant and are some of the best type to grow in the winter. As the weather gets colder their leaves become more crisp. Smooth leafed spinach leaves are usually a lighter green than the savoyed spinach but they tend to grow upright and are easy to wash and clean. Smooth leafed spinach is a fast grower and you can harvest the crop as baby greens or let it grow to maturity.
When To Plant Spinach
For Spring Spinach – Sow seeds indoors six weeks before your last expected frost date. Then sow two more crops three weeks apart. Seeds can also be started outdoor in a cold frame or low tunnel.
For Fall Spinach – Sow seeds six or seven weeks before the first fall frost date for your area. This wil be your main fall crop of spinach.
For Winter Spinach – Sow your seeds four weeks before first expected frost date. These must be sown in a cold frame or low tunnel that can be covered and protect them over winter. Harvest of winter spinach will be early spring.
How To Plant
Prepare the soil by loosing to 10 inches deep and adding a couple of inches of good compost as well as some organic nitrogen fertilizer. Plant the seeds about a half inch deep two inches apart in rows that are at least eight inches apart. As the plants grow thin them out until the leaves of the plants are barely touching one another.
Harvesting And Storage
At about six weeks after planting you can harvest the maturing outer leaves as needed. Be sure that you leave the center rosette intact. As spring weather warms your spinach will start to bolt and go to seed when you start o notice a central stem start to form pull up your plants . You need to clean the leaves then blanch them using steam, then package and freeze. Blanching will fix the enzymes and help stop water intake.
Some important tips are to clip off yellowing leaves so they do not drain nutrients from the other leaves. An application of fish emulsion fertilizer in early spring on winter spinach will help stimulate new growth. For your main crop in the fall wait until after the first frost to start harvesting, the cold causes the production of sugars to increase and adds to the flavor of the spinach.