Popeye loves spinach for a reason. It’s full of nutrients that are part of a balanced diet, and you can eat the plant both raw and cooked. To help be as strong as Popeye, find out when to plant spinach in your garden.
There’s no reason not to have a healthy diet thanks to the ease it takes to plant spinach. Spinach loves cool temperatures and you can plant it in the spring and fall.
When to plant spinach: Find a place that has full sun and dig trenches ½ to 1-inch deep. Add your seeds into the soil, cover, and wait. While spinach does need regular watering, it doesn’t need much else. After six weeks, your spinach will be ready to harvest. If you plant your spinach seeds in two-week intervals, you will have a steady supply of spinach that will last for a month or two.
Once your spinach is ready, you can start harvesting it. Either cut the whole plant or remove the outer layers, allowing the inner layers a chance to grow more.
Planting Spinach in Different Climates
Spinach is a cold-hardy plant and needs cool temperatures and soil that reaches temperatures less than 70 degrees Fahrenheit. A tropical climate is too warm for spinach.
Depending on how cold a dry climate is, spinach can be grown. Once planted, however, be sure to give it regular watering. Spinach will not grow unless it has enough water.
With a temperate climate, you just may be able to grow three crops of spinach in a year. The cool temperatures in spring and fall allow for spinach to grow quite well.
Then, you can also plant seeds in late fall and have them ready to sprout into plants in late winter or early spring.
If you do decide to grow spinach over the winter, provide a cold frame or a thick layer of bark mulch to keep the seeds insulated.
While the growing season is shorter with a continental climate, spinach still does well with it. You can definitely plant spinach before the date of the last frost but the soil has to be workable.
Furthermore, if you are planting spinach in the fall, start in early September as the ground can freeze over a lot earlier.
A continental climate may be cool but it might not have enough rainfall for spinach. It’s important to look out for this and give your spinach seedlings plenty of water.
While spinach does like the cold, it needs some warmth in the soil. A polar climate will not allow spinach to grow.
Choosing Spinach Seeds
If you are looking for a flat leaf type of spinach, you can try Giant Nobel. It has large leaves that are common to what you would find in a grocery store.
If you want a leaf that curls around its edges, you can try Winter Bloomsdale. This is a variety of spinach that does better in the fall and as a bonus is resistant to disease.
Another plant parasite to watch out for is downy mildew. If you’ve experienced this with your spinach in the past, you can try using the Tyee spinach variety as it is resistant to the parasite. It can also be planted in both spring and fall.
Most spinach does not grow in the summer as it is simply too hot for the plant. However, there are a few varieties that do ok in warm weather. Malabar spinach and New Zealand spinach are two varieties that you can try as they are heat tolerant.
How to Plant Spinach Seeds
One of the best features of spinach is that you can plant two, and even three crops of it year-round. Spinach is a cold-hardy green so it can be planted in the spring and fall, and, depending on your climate zone, again in the early winter.
When deciding when to plant spinach, think about your climate. Spinach seeds can be planted as soon as you are able to work the soil. This can vary between February and April.
While other seeds need warm soil, for spinach, the ground should be at a temperature less than 70 degrees Fahrenheit.
To ensure you have a steady supply of spinach, plant some seeds and then wait two weeks and plant another row of seeds. This can be done two to three times, depending on how early you can work your soil.
If you are planting spinach in the fall, wait until it is colder, around September. Then, plant every two weeks.
Finally, you can plant another round of spinach seeds in late fall and have spinach pop up in your garden in spring. If your ground does get quite cold, you can always add a top layer of thick mulch and then remove it when there are hints of spring.
Once you have decided when to plant your spinach, it’s time to find an area for it. Spinach prefers full sun, but can do ok with partial sun.
The soil should be well-drained. Add manure or compost to the soil a week before you plant. However, if you want to plant spinach as soon as you can in the spring, take some time in the fall to properly prepare the area.
Unlike some seeds, it’s not recommended to transplant spinach. Therefore, direct sowing is advised.
Spinach seeds are not too small, so it’s easier to spread them out when planting. They should be ½ to 1-inch deep and should be spaced a few inches apart. You can also thin the spinach once it starts growing.
How to Water Spinach
After you plant your spinach seeds, give them a thorough watering. Even if it is cool out, the seeds need a fair bit of moisture.
While some people live in climates with plenty of spring rain, if you live in a dry climate, be sure to water your spinach, usually every day.
How to Grow Spinach
Spinach will start to pop up in just a week or two after the seeds have been planted. Once your spinach is about 2 inches tall, you can thin the plants. Spinach needs about 3 inches of space between plants.
One of the benefits of growing spinach is that it doesn’t need a lot of work. Fertilizer isn’t usually necessary unless your soil needs some extra support.
It is important to clear your growing area of weeds before you plant spinach. The roots of spinach are quite shallow and if there is too much work in the area, you can damage them.
How to prevent pests and diseases
There are a few pests and diseases to watch for with spinach. Leaf miners are the most common as they love to eat spinach leaves.
Plant radishes next to your spinach. The leaf miners will eat these instead, preserving your spinach leaves for yourself.
Another risk spinach may face is bolting. This is when the plant runs to seed before you have a chance to harvest it. If there is an unexpected cold spell while the spinach is growing, it can lead to bolting.
The best tip to prevent this is to cover your spinach if you know there is a cold snap about to happen.
Spinach can often produce downy mildew. This is a parasite that creates yellow spots on your spinach leaves, making them inedible.
Downy mildew usually occurs in spinach that is planted later in the season. Therefore, try to plant your spinach as early as possible. Furthermore, you can find spinach varieties that are resistant to it.
Finally, one disease to definitely look out for are mosaic viruses. These are actually a group of similar viruses that love vegetable plants including tomatoes, cauliflower, and cucumbers.
If your plant is infected with a mosaic virus, it will turn yellow and look wilted. Unfortunately, once the virus takes hold, you can’t do anything to stop it.
To prevent the spread of a mosaic virus, remove any infect leaves right away. Do not put them in your compost, as the virus can survive and infect your future garden.
Try to keep weeds at a minimum so that the virus can’t be transferred from plants. You can also add a row cover to prevent bugs such as aphids spreading the virus.
How long does spinach take to grow?
After you plant spinach, it will be ready in about six weeks. You will want to watch your spinach as it approaches this date as spinach needs to be harvested right when it is ready.
Spinach that grows too long will become quite bitter. Instead, pick the leaves when they are about the length of your fingers.
You can choose to pick the entire spinach plant or pick the outer leaves first. If you do this, the inner leaves will grow more and can be picked in a few days.
You can keep spinach in the fridge for a few days. Alternately, you can freeze it for later use, such as in lasagna and stir-fries.
Spinach is a delicious vegetable that can be eaten raw in a salad or eaten cooked as a layer in lasagna. It is easy to grow and if you time it right, you can have spinach ready in your garden multiple times a year.