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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 seeds can be planted once the ground is workable (which is up to 8 weeks before the last frost date) with consecutive plantings through spring.
Longer days cause the plant to go to seed quicker (bolting), so planting it as early as possible is advisable. 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.
WHERE TO PLANT
Growing spinach works best in full sun in early spring. As spring progresses, plant consecutive plantings in partial shade to protect from the increasing heat, slowing the bolting process.
PREPARING THE SOIL
Spinach has a deep tap root so till the soil at least 1′ deep and provide generous amounts of organic matter to keep the soil well-aerated. Although spinach will grow in a wide variance of soils, it will perform best in rich, organic matter such as compost or alfalfa meal.
Prepare your planting area in the fall so you can plant your seeds in the spring as soon as the ground thaws.
The optimal pH levels for growing spinach should be between6.5 and 7.5.
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 bag in refrigerator 5-7 days.
Seeds will germinate best when daytime temperatures are around 60 F and will tolerate nighttime temperatures as low as 40 F. Shade soil until germination.
GETTING STARTED INDOORS (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 section above titled “Seeds and Germination.”
SOWING AND GROWING(Planting seeds directly into the garden)
Rather than planting a large spinach crop in early spring (unless you are planning to freeze a batch for winter usage) we recommend planting smaller batches every week to 10 days. This will provide you maximum availability of fresh spinach.
If a frost is predicted after you have planted, cover with a row cover and welcome the frost! The more often the temperatures drop the sweeter the spinach will be.
In more temperate climates, or with the use of a cold frame, spinach can often be planted year around.
In warmer climates provide spinach plants with some shelter from the sun; plant 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 you can give them a boost every couple of weeks with a fish emulsion or a leaf spray (see Jenny’s Tip just below), promoting 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 may want to check it out.
Removing large developed leaves will postpone bolting. Also remove any brown leaves; these are not good for eating and will sap the plant of it’s strength.
If leaves become large and few tender leaves are forming, cut the entire plant 1″ above soil level; this will encourage the plant to grow another crop of leaves.
Once the plant begins to form a center stalk (bolting), the leaves will 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.
Keep moisture levels moist but not soggy. Allowing soil to dry out will encourage plants to bolt.
COMPANION PLANTING & ROTATION
Growing spinach in your garden will benefit all succeeding crops planted in the same location. Do not follow spinach with legumes.
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).
Spinach can be dried in a food dehydrator. Dry unwashed leaves until they break easily; store in a paper bag or other food container, avoiding folds in the leaves.
Spinach can also be frozen. Blanche 1 to 2 minutes and when cool, place in quart-size Zip-loc bags and store in freezer.
COMMON PESTS AND PROBLEMS
Since spinach grows 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.
Avoid over-watering spinach which can lead to mildew.
write by Emery