Spinach is known as one of the healthiest superfoods around. These great-for-you greens are rich in vitamins and minerals, especially iron. In fact, it’s the iron in spinach that gave Popeye the Sailor his incredible strength. The popular comic book hero sprouted instant biceps whenever he squeezed open a can of spinach.
How to Grow Spinach
Spinach is an easy-to-grow, cool-season vegetable that belongs in the Goosefoot family along with beets and chard. It can be planted in both spring and fall because it grows so quickly—harvests can begin in as little as six weeks from planting.
For best results, plant quick maturing varieties (40-50 days), that are slow to bolt and offer good disease resistance. Choose from the crinkly Savoy-type or varieties with smooth leaves.
- Spinach is easy to grow in garden beds and containers, too. Some gardeners prefer to plant in containers because the spinach stays cleaner, which means less time spent washing away garden soil.
- Spinach is a leafy green that prefers a fertile, moist soil. Wait for the garden soil to warm to about 35 degrees and to dry slightly before planting. It’s important to avoid walking on wet spring soils to keep from compacting the delicate soil structure.
- Start harvesting leaves when they’re about 1 inch tall by clipping from the outside of the plant, allowing the inner leaves to keep growing. These baby spinach leaves are especially tender and tasty.
- You could also wait until leaves are 3-4 inches tall and either cut off all the leaves or cut the plant at soil level while the greens are still young and tender. The plants will regrow, so you can plan on several cuttings.
- Place a layer of mulch, such as dry untreated grass clippings, around plants to help maintain soil moisture. Be sure to keep the soil consistently moist; a soaker hose is a good option to keep leaves dry.
- Avoid letting the soil dry out or plants may bolt and flower prematurely.
- Smaller artichokes are typically more tender than larger globes. There will be a primary bud at the top of the stalk with 2-3 smaller buds on side shoots.
- Harvest artichokes when the flower bud has a tight leaf formation, deep color and feels heavy for its size. Another way to tell if it’s time to harvest is by the old farmer’s test: leaves should squeak when pressed together.
- Cut the artichoke stem straight across, leaving about 2 inches of stem below the flower bud’s base.
- Enjoy as close to harvest as possible or store (unwashed) in plastic bags in the fridge for up to 4 days.
Plant spinach with these companions:
Materials for Success
- Soil thermometer
- High-quality compost and manure
- High nitrogen fertilizer
- Soaker hose
- Row cover cloth
- Pruning scissors with sharp tips
To learn more about growing spinach or about growing your own edible vegetable garden, contact the pros at Nick’s Garden Center.