How to Grow Spinach

Updated on February 7, 2018
OldRoses profile image

Caren White is a Master Gardener and instructor at Home Gardeners School. She has been associated with Rutgers Gardens for over a decade.

Source

I have to admit to not being a fan of cooked spinach. I love my spinach raw in salads. Fortunately, it is as easy to grow as lettuce. It always has a place in my spring and fall plantings.

What is Spinach?

Spinach is an annual plant that is native to Iran and related to swiss chard and beets. It is grown for its leaves which can be eaten either raw or cooked. It is an excellent source of many vitamins including A, B, C, E and K. It also contains magnesium, manganese, iron and potassium. It is beloved by vegans and lactose intolerant people for its calcium content.

Spinach comes in two varieties: Savoy and Flat-Leaf. Savoy spinach has wrinkled leaves. Its drawback is that soil hides in those wrinkles and is difficult to wash out before eating. Flat-Leaf spinach has smooth leaves that are easy to clean after harvest. Modern hybridizers have created a third hybrid spinach called Semi-Savoy. The leaves are less wrinkled than Savoy and easier to clean.

Savoy Spinach showing its wrinkled leaves
Savoy Spinach showing its wrinkled leaves | Source

How to Grow Spinach

Spinach is a cool season plant that is grown in the spring and fall. In warmer areas, it can be wintered over if heavily mulched. The seeds are best direct sown rather than started indoors because the seedlings do not tolerate transplanting. For best germination, the soil should be cooler than 70⁰F.

In the spring, sow your seeds 4 to 6 weeks before your last frost. In the fall, sow them 6 to 8 weeks before your first frost. Sow them ½ inch deep in rows 12 to 18 inches apart. If you are not seeding in rows, you can simply broadcast your seeds over an area or in a container.

Spinach can be grown in containers
Spinach can be grown in containers | Source

Keep the soil moist until germination. Once your seedlings have their true leaves, you can thin the plants to 6 inches apart. Don’t compost those thinnings! They make excellent salad fixings.

Spinach seedlings ready to be thinned
Spinach seedlings ready to be thinned | Source

The plants grow very quickly so they are heavy feeders who benefit from extra nitrogen. You can supply this by amending your soil before sowing your seeds with blood meal, cotton seed meal, composted manure, timed release fertilizer or liquid fertilizer. Fish emulsion and soy meal are also good choices.

Spinach prefers temperatures that are between 35⁰F and 75⁰F. You can try to prolong the spring growing season by growing your plants in a partial shade spot or planted amongst taller vegetables that will shade it as they grow. Spinach isn’t just sensitive to the temperature, though. It’s also sensitive to day-length. In the spring, the plants will start to bolt when the days are longer than 14 hours. Spinach is a great fall crop because it loves the cool temperatures and short days of the fall season. It can tolerate temperatures as low as the teens and low 20s.

When the weather warms and the days get longer, spinach will bolt. Bolting means that it begins to flower which also signals the end of the plant’s life. You will notice that your plants are getting tall and spindly. Eventually they will send up a stalk that flowers. The flowers are small and yellow-green in color. Once the plants bolt, they become too bitter to eat. You should harvest the entire plant by pulling it out of the ground before the flowers open.

Spinach flowers
Spinach flowers | Source

How to Harvest Spinach

You can begin harvesting leaves when they have reached your desired size. Don’t allow them to get too big though. The leaves become bitter when they mature. Most gardeners harvest in a “cut and come again” fashion, cutting the outer leaves and leaving the leaves in the middle to continue to grow. You can also harvest the entire plant. If you cut it one inch above the soil, it will grow back for a second harvest.

How to Store Spinach

Freshly harvested spinach begins to lose its nutritional value after a few days. Refrigeration will prolong the nutritional values for up to 8 days. Spinach is sensitive to the ethylene gas given off by some fruits. Don’t store it with tomatoes, melons or apples. Spinach leaves can be frozen for up to 8 months. Give your leaves a good wash, pat dry and then freeze them either raw or after blanching them.

Questions & Answers

    © 2018 Caren White

    Comments

      0 of 8192 characters used
      Post Comment

      • OldRoses profile imageAUTHOR

        Caren White 

        10 months ago from Franklin Park, NJ

        And thank you, Peggy, for reading and commenting!

      • Peggy W profile image

        Peggy Woods 

        10 months ago from Houston, Texas

        I really enjoy eating spinach fresh and also cooked. Thanks for the primer on planting and harvesting it.

      working

      This website uses cookies

      As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, dengarden.com uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

      For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at: https://dengarden.com/privacy-policy#gdpr

      Show Details
      Necessary
      HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
      LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
      Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
      AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
      HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
      HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
      Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
      CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
      Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the googleapis.com or gstatic.com domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
      Features
      Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
      Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
      Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
      Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
      Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
      VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
      PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
      Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
      MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
      Marketing
      Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
      Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
      Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
      Statistics
      Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
      ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
      Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)