Spinach is a hardy, cool-season crop that is increasing in popularity as a salad green. It is easy to grow and well adapted in small garden areas. It will grow in spring or fall seasons, but hot days in late spring cause spinach plants to bolt or produce a seed stalk.
Spinach varieties vary as to the degree of “crinkle” in the leaves—called savoy. An old, standard, heavily savoyed variety is Long Standing Bloomsdale. Melody, Space, and Avon are hybrid, semi-savoyed types that produce well. Tyee is a type with smoother leaves. Smoother leaf types are easier to wash and clean if you have sandy soil that may get into the cracks and crevices of the leaves. A plant referred to as “New Zealand spinach” is not related to spinach and is often called “hot weather spinach” because it grows best during the warm days of late spring. It is not planted until later in the season and is harvested for the young, tender leaves that develop through late spring to early summer.
When to Plant:
Spinach can be planted very early as it is cold hardy. Mid- to late March is a common planting time. Fall spinach can be planted in mid-August to early September. Fall-planted spinach will usually overwinter if lightly mulched and vigorously re-grow in the spring. However, it will often ‘bolt’ (produce a seedstalk) early so spring-planted spinach should still be planted to grow longer into the spring season.
Spacing: Plant seeds about an inch apart in rows as close as 5–6 inches, or you can scatter seed uniformly about an inch apart in a wide row or bed planting. Because spinach germinates and grows early in the season, weed control is easier in this crop than in many planted this way.
Care:Spinach needs a fertile, well-drained location. Because production occurs early in the season, watering during stressful weather is not normally a concern. Additional nitro- gen may be required to keep the spinach dark green and growing vigorously.
Harvest:Clip spinach leaves as soon as they are big enough to use. If you clip individual leaves, the plant will continue to develop and produce more leaves. If you want to harvest mature plants, cut the plant at the soil level. This will be necessary as hot weather approaches. Fall planted spinach will often overwinter; clip individual leaves for fall harvest but allow the plants to remain. Cover the planting with mulch in mid to late November and uncover early in the spring. You will usually get an additional early spring crop of spinach; however, this overwintered crop produces seed stalks early in the season. Store spinach in a plastic bag in a refrigerator for about a week.