I often prefer a spinach salad to a lettuce salad. It is also very tasty in other cooked dishes, sauteed with vegetables or in soup. It is very good as part of your base in smoothies and shakes. However, conventional spinach is high in pesticides, so if you buy it -always purchase organic. But why not grow it?
Spinach is such an easy crop to grow. I do find it a little slow to get started, so you want to give it plenty of time. If you would like the harvest lettuce and spinach at the same time, plant the spinach a week or two before the lettuce.
It also grows very well in containers. You can fit several plants in a container depending on the size. Keep well watered.
Spinach is a cool season crop. That means it likes to grow in the spring and fall, but the summer heat makes it very unhappy. When the heat builds, spinach bolts. This means it goes to seed and often develops a bitter taste. It is frost hardy and can tolerate freezing temperatures when covered.
There are a few varieties of spinach to choose from. There are smooth leaves, savoyed (crinkly) ones and baby spinach. Then there’s spinach that’s not really spinach at all (New Zealand spinach, Malabar spinach). They are better choices for hot weather. My favorite variety is Bloomsdale Long Standing. Plan on planting many plants since you don’t get much from one plant.
Planting: If you grow spinach from seed it is best to soak the seed overnight for faster germination.
The seed leaves will be long, but the true leaves will look more like spinach.
Plant spinach in full sun to part shade. Plant seeds directly in rich soil 2 inches apart, then thin to about 6″. If transplanting, plant 6 inches apart.
Fertilizing: Use an organic nitrogen fertilizer. Nitrogen is good for leaf production. Use only when necessary such as poor growth or yellow leaves.
Pests: I haven’t encounter many pests. If you have rabbits you may want to consider putting some protection around the plants. Flea beetles may create little holes in the spinach.
Below I planted spinach with strawberries and lettuce. These plants grow well together. The spinach was finished by the time the strawberries took over.
Harvesting: Leaves can be harvested as soon as they are big enough to eat. Pick the leaves from the outside of the plant, they will keep growing in the center. Only pull out the whole plant to harvest if it is close to going to seed.
Wash the leaves thoroughly to remove the sand that develops under the leaves. Soak in cool water a few minutes, then store in the refrigerator.