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Writing about the things I love. My writing work has appeared in hard copy magazines including Green Prints, Twins Magazine, Practical Parenting Magazine, The Journal of Court Reporting, and more as well as hundreds of articles in Sunset Hosta Farm's Hosta blog and The Homesteading Village blog.

Thursday, February 7, 2019

Growing Spinach - Homesteading 101


Spinach is a cool-weather quick-growing annual related to Beets and Swiss Chard. Spinach has high amounts of carotenoids, Vitamin C, Vitamin K, folic acid, iron, and calcium. It is one of the healthiest salad choices you can make.


The Basics

Annual
Height: 6" to 3' Width: 3" to 15"

Types:
Savory Spinach. Dark green crinkled leaves. It grows flatter compared to other Spinach. It tends to be more cold-hardy and becomes sweet and crispy after a frost.


Flat-Leaf Spinach. Grows more upright and easier to wash.


Semi-Savory. A hybrid between the two. Leaves aren't as crinkled or as smooth.






Starting Seeds of Spinach


Seed Depth: 1/2" deep


Seed Spacing: 2" apart, thin seedlings to 4-5" apart. Mature 10-12".


Days to Germinate: 1 week at 60 degrees.


Days to Harvest: 20-30 days for baby greens.
35-45 days mature leaves.


Seed Longevity: 1-3 years.


Sowing Indoors:
Spring: Sow seeds 3-4 weeks before your last average frost date. Transplant out as soon as seedlings are easily handled. Note that spinach doesn't always transplant well.


Sowing Outdoors:
Spring: Direct sow in the ground or a container as soon as the soil can be worked. Succession sow every 2 weeks until mid-May. Covering with a shade net or row cover will hasten germination.


Fall: Direct sow in the ground or container 6 weeks before your first average frost date.


Salad Spinner










Winter Sowing:


If you haven't tried winter sowing, you're in for a treat. This method is especially good for sowing herbs and greens. 


Winter sowing is basically sowing seeds in the bottom of a milk jug during the winter, setting the milk jugs outside for the winter and leaving them there until the seeds germinate in Spring.


For a detailed article all about Winter Sowing, click here.



salad tongs





Growing Spinach Plants


Growing Temperature: 41 - 75 degrees. Survives light frosts.


Plant Spacing: 5" to harvest small or 8-12" for mature leaves.


Container Size: Spinach has a deep taproot. The pot must be 12" deep.


Sun/Shade: Full sun to part shade.


Soil: Well-drained, sandy soil rich in organic matter.


Watering: Water consistently for the best flavor. Water stress will cause Spinach to bolt early.


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Fertilizing:

Since greens are such a fast-growing crop, as long as they are grown in rich soil there may be little need for further fertilization. 


That said, a liquid balanced fertilizer when the seedlings are 4" tall will give your greens a boost and carry them through their short season. After the temperatures warm, though, the leaves of Spinach will turn bitter and no amount of fertilizer will help at that point.


Too much nitrogen gives Spinach a metallic flavor.



Salad Lunch Container


Growing Tips

When the Spinach plant is about to bolt, pull the entire plant to harvest before the leaves become bitter.


Shade the plant at temperatures over 80 degrees.


Cut the entire plant an inch above ground level to encourage the plant to regrow another crop of leaves.



Harvesting Spinach

Harvest anytime Spinach is large enough to eat. Harvest young outer leaves to allow centers to grow larger and keep producing which also will delay bolting.







Using Spinach

Use fresh spinach for salads.


Chop fresh Spinach to add to chilis, soups or sauces two minutes before serving.


Sauteed Spinach, Spinach Dip, Spinach Salads, Creamed Spinach.








Storing Spinach For Later Use

Spinach loses its nutritional quality quickly after harvest, so harvest right before processing.
Although tender green-leafed plants, like lettuce, cannot be preserved well, the thicker leafed greens can be preserved.


Fresh
Clean and pat dry. Bundle stems lightly, place on a paper towel (to absorb moisture) and wrap in a plastic bag. Keeps in refrigerator for 10 days.








Freezing for Later Use in Chili, Soups, Sauces, and Casseroles.


Steam or saute' leaves, chop them and store in freezer bags.


Puree with water and freeze into ice cube trays.
Clean and dry the leaves and store in quart size freezer bags.


Frozen leaves will keep for 6 months.


Blanching the leaves for two minutes first will extend freezer storage to 14 months.
 


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To read the other articles in our Growing Your Greens series, click on the name below:


Arugula
Endive
Kale
Lettuce
Mustard Greens
Radicchio
Swiss Chard



Check out our other great gardening articles: Click Here




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