Spinach, all tips on how to grow it


Spinach is a leaf vegetable that is easy to grow, ideal for planting in spring and fall.

Key Spinach facts:

NameSpinocia oleracea
Type – vegetable, annual

Height – 6 to 10 inches (20 to 30 cm)
Exposure – part sun, shade in warm climates

Soil: rich enough  –  Harvest: all year round

Caring for it is easy and the harvest is often abundant if is cared for a little bit.

Sowing and planting spinach

Ideal sowing dates for spinach are at the beginning of spring and at the end of summer.

Spinach abhors heat and would not cope well with summer heat.

Planting spinach in the open

Summer harvest: direct sowing of spinach from March to May.

Fall and winter harvest: Sow your spinach from August to September.

Be careful, spinach doesn’t cope well with strong heat.

Planting spinachProceed to sowing in rows with a seed depth of about 1 inch (2 to 3 cm) and thin as soon as the first leaves appear to intervals of about 4 to 6 inches (10 to 15 cm).

  • When sowing, it is best to use soil mix to cover seeds.
  • Water regularly using a gentle spray after sowing. Keep this up daily until seeds sprout.
  • Once the line has sprouted, thin to 4 to 6 inches (10 to 15 cm) between plants, which generally means removing every second sprout.
  • Soil must remain moist at all times.

Growing spinach in pots

Growing spinach in a potThis is a vegetable well suited to container growing, it is very easy to grow spinach in pots on a terrace or balcony.

Sowing in pots is the same as direct sowing in the ground, except that special care must be given to ensure that the soil remains moist.

This means it is important to water regularly. If not, it’ll go to seed much too early.

Caring for and growing spinach

Caring for spinach

Spinach care entails a few basic tasks, especially in summer when it’s hotter.

Spinach hates dry spells and high temperatures.

It is important to mulch the ground in summer to retain soil moisture and also to protect them from the first frost spells.

If your spinach comes to fall victim to mosaic, which means, leaves turn different colors, pull out diseased plants and destroy them.

Bugs and pests:

Spinach hates it when there are too many snails and slugs in the garden. Mildew, a type of mold, will cause yellow streaks on leaves. Young sprouts are often vulnerable to damping off.

Note the aforementioned cucumber mosaic virus which weakens plants, too.

Harvesting spinach

Harvesting spinachGrowing spinach is easy and quick. You can harvest them 1 ½ months after sowing.

If you collect a few leaves on a regular basis, you will stimulate new growth. If you pull out the whole plant, it won’t grow back.

Spinach can be eaten both cooked and raw, and having grown them yourself gives them an extra special taste…

Spinach keeping and freezing:

To keep spinach leaves, it is best to freeze them. First though, wash them and chop them up into large pieces.

Another option is to blanch them in boiling water for 1 minute, dunking them immediately in cold water right after time is up. This technique will keep the spinach green. After blanching, you can freeze them.

Lastly, fresh leaves will keep well for a few days in the vegetable compartment in the refrigerator.

Several good spinach varieties

Most varieties of spinach are clumping, but a few are vining and will need a trellis.

‘Winter giant’ spinach

  • This is one of the most hardy varieties. It is sown in fall and winter, depending on the region, and is harvested from October to December.
  • It carries large, wide, thick leaves.

Varieties of spinach‘Monstrueux de Viroflay’ spinach

  • Sown in spring or at the end of summer, it resists summer heat quite well as long as it is protected from scorching sunlight.
  • It also has large leaves and is grown practically all year round.

‘Symphony’ spinach

  • Rather hardy, this spinach is sown in spring to be harvested until the beginning of summer.

‘Lagos’ spinach

  • A summer variety, this spinach tolerates summer heat very well, and so doesn’t tend to go to seed.

‘Lazio’ Spinach

  • Resists most diseases very well, especially downy mildew. Your harvest will be abundant from spring until the beginning of winter.

All there is to know about spinach

Native to Iran, spinach has long been appreciated for its taste and its excellent nutritional value.

Cooking with spinachCultivation quickly spread widely and at the beginning of the XIIth century it appeared in Europe. It was particularly savored by Catherine de Medicis, who made it a popular vegetable.

Although there is a certain amount of iron in spinach, Popeye is responsible for most of the hype. In reality, iron levels aren’t much higher than those of other nutritious plants.

Spinach does have high nitrate levels, which are converted into nitrites through the chewing process in the mouth, and ultimately into vitamin B9.

Raw spinach contains lots of vitamin C. Note a high amount of vitamin E, pro-vitamin A, calcium, magnesium and fiber.

Whatever the details, eating spinach is excellent for health, both cooked and raw.

Smart tip about spinach

Spinach needs rich and moist soil: smart gardeners mulch with flax or cocoa hulls to reduce evaporation, enrich the soil, and avoid weeds.

Spinach is excellent green manure and is perfect when included in crop rotation plans to enrich poor soil.

Images: 123RF: Meininger; Pixabay: ha11ok, Maike Wilstermann-Hildebrand, T. Gaier, Shingo_No, Thilo Becker, Antina Wolff