This week it is our pleasure to point the spotlight on one of our favorite all-weather crops, spinach! We are bringing you the complete spinach growing guide, including why to plant it, when to plant it, how to grow and harvest it, and how to enjoy it.
Spinach is a cool-weather crop – quick growers, spinach plants will liven up your home garden with the most lovely, dark green leaves in spring, late summer, fall, and early winter.
As we always say, growing your own herbs and vegetables simply cannot be beat. When you grow your spinach garden at home, you know exactly what has gone into the growing process. Not to mention, you have fresh spinach in your vegetable gardens at your disposal 24/7 – what could be better?
Why Grow Spinach?
As Popeye would agree, spinach is wonderful for your brain and body. Spinach is known for being rich in nutrients, such as vitamins a and c, as well as calcium and iron. These qualities make spinach fantastic for fighting inflammation and for keeping your immune system strong. When you grow your own, you can easily add spinach leaves into your meals at any time in the day. Think breakfast omelette, lunch smoothie, or dinner salad!
When to Grow Spinach?
Spinach is generally a cool-season crop, but don’t be fooled – just because this leafy green prefers cool weather, it does not mean that you are extremely limited in terms of when you can grow it.
The best times to plant your spinach are either late winter or early spring, for a fast cool weather crop. You can also plant your spinach in warm weather climates; late summer or early fall, whenever the hottest temperatures are behind you for the season. Spinach does prefer full sun, but once you start to see increasingly long days, the plant’s life span shortens.
For the best germination rates, sow the spinach seeds when the soil temperature is no warmer than 70ºF. That’s why spinach shines brightest as a fall crop, or an early spring harvest. Keep in mind that you should plant your spinach garden about 4-6 weeks before the last frost date in order to avoid frostbite.
How Long Does it Take for Spinach to Grow from Seed?
It takes about 37-45 days of cool weather from sowing the seed to harvest time. As spinach is a cool temperature grower, you want to be sure to avoid extremely hot weather when you plan to buckle down and sow seeds.
How Long Does it Take for Spinach to Be Ready for Harvest from Starter Plants?
Spinach is a fast-growing plant and will yield many leaves in a short time in the mild weather. One great way to enjoy a longer season of fresh spinach leaves is to start with fully rooted young plants which are well on their way to maturity. Depending on the weather and sunshine you can often enjoy your first harvest 2 weeks after planting.
Growing Spinach in Containers
Spinach is extraordinarily easy and fast to grow, which makes it a great contender for your culinary container garden. The best way to grow spinach in containers is to choose a container that drains, choose soil that drains well and contains organic matter, and although spinach prefers full sun, it will still produce a harvest in partial shade.
If you’re transplanting your spinach from a Gardenuity purchase, you will be all set to go with pH-balanced soil and treatments, as well as our Grow Bag, which makes for the perfect, transportable pot. If you are not using one of our Grow Bags, you should look for a container that is about 6-8 inches deep and at least 10-12 inches wide, and make sure that you have all of the soil nutrients you need before planting your garden.
Growing Spinach Indoors
Growing spinach indoors is perfect for you if your garden is prone to being robbed by fiending furry friends. If you live in a particularly dry climate, be sure to keep a close eye on your container garden’s soil – spinach needs a lot of water, so keep that soil moist!
Spinach Growing Conditions – How To Plant
If you are growing your spinach from transplants, you will need to make sure that each whole plant has the spacing of 6-8 inches between one another. If you are sowing spinach seeds, you will need to sow the seeds about 1 inch apart.
Taking Care of your Spinach Garden
If you are growing your spinach in a container, the ideal texture of your soil should be crumbly and loamy. You also want to pick a rich soil that drains well, and that has an abundance of nutrients; you can add nutrients to your soil by adding a homemade compost. If you are growing your spinach in raised beds, you’ll want to look for similar soil with a pH level of 6.5 to 7.
If you live in a dry climate, adding mulch to the sides of your spinach plants can be a remarkable solution in terms of keeping the soil moist.
Your spinach plants will greatly appreciate full sun exposure. If you do not have access to this type of light for your raised bed or your container garden, your spinach will still thrive in partial shade, too. Keep in mind that if you are planting your spinach while the days are still long and hot, your garden will need some shade throughout the day.
Technically speaking, spinach plants require about 1-1.5 inches of water each week. If you are manually watering your spinach garden with a watering can or a hose, you will want to focus on keeping your garden’s soil moisture levels even throughout the week; do not let the soil dry out!
Grow Pro Tip: Check the soil moisture often as Spinach will do best when the moisture levels remain consistent.
Pests & Diseases
The most common types of pests that prey on spinach plants are spider mites, flea beetles and aphids; all pests that will attack the leaves of your plants – also known as leaf miners. A common disease which ails the spinach plant is downy mildew, which happens often for those who live in cool, damp climates.
Neem oil is always a great solution to turn to when dealing with leaf miners. If you are fending off downy mildew, the best way to move forward is to clip off the affected leaves and spray the remaining leaves with a mixture of 1 teaspoon of baking soda mixed with one litre of water. Then, spray this mixture liberally over the entire plant.
Grow Pro Tips for Growing Spinach
- The key to having a successful harvest is to pick the spinach so it keeps growing. You can do this by picking the outer leaves before they turn yellow – this is baby spinach.
- When you grow your spinach in a container, it lessens the chances of your crops falling prey to soil-borne diseases or pests.
- If you need to clip your spinach plants because of downy mildew, you can use the affected leaves as a part of your compost; downy mildew spores only survive if there is a living host present, so your compost will be safe to use.
- If your spinach does bolt in late spring, cut your losses and pull the whole plant up in order to make room for a warm-weather harvest. You can still eat the spinach off of this plant, but it will be more bitter than your typical harvest.
Spinach Companion Plants
Planting herbs and veggies with companion plants is a great way to deter pests from setting up camp in your garden. Companion plants are plants that can be successfully grown in close proximity to one another. These plants mutually benefit one another throughout their growing processes, especially by keeping pests away.
Here is a list of spinach companion plants:
- Savoy Spinach: Also known as Spinacia oleracea, this spinach variety is known for its crunchy, dark, green, and curly leaves.
- Semi-Savoy Spinach: This spinach variety has the same crunch and distinct, bitter flavor as the Savoy variation, however, its leaves are less curled and crinkled. This makes the leaves far easier to clean.
- Indian Summer
- Smooth (Flat) Leaf Spinach: Flat Leaf spinach is referred to as the easiest variation of spinach to grow, as its leaves are extremely easy to clean, takes less time to grow, and can be stored for a longer period of time.
- Red Cardinal
- New Zealand Spinach: This type of spinach is formally known as tetragonia expansa, and, unlike its counterparts, loves growing in warmer weather. This particular variation of spinach prefers to be grown in containers.
How to Harvest Spinach
Once your spinach plants have outer leaves that are large enough to eat, that is when you will know it is time to harvest. Always make sure to harvest spinach starting with clipping off the outer leaves, and then working your way inward. It’s best to leave the inner leaves alone so that they can continue their growth.
If you are growing your spinach garden for a spring harvest, be sure to pull the entire plant from the soil as soon as it is about to bolt so that the leaves do not turn bitter. Bolting is when the plant sprouts a tall bloom, and it typically happens when the days start to become longer in the later spring season. Picking your outer leaves also makes a considerable difference in terms of keeping the bolting period at bay.
How to Store your Spinach Harvest
After harvesting your spinach, you will want to keep it in a cool and moist place, such as the vegetable crisper drawer of your refrigerator. If this is the route you should go with, be sure to store your spinach in a container that has air holes for the leaves to breathe. Your spinach will stay fresh in the fridge for about ten days.
If you intend to use your spinach within the next six months, go ahead and toss it into the freezer – keep it in the container that has air holes, such as a zip lock bag.
Spinach Recipes We Love!
- Fresh Spinach & Artichoke Dip Recipe
- Warm Spinach & Beet Salad with Bacon Vinaigrette
- Cheesy Spinach Pesto Flatbread
- BONUS: Spinach Recipes for Every Meal
Grow Pro FAQ
- Will spinach grow back after cutting?
- Yes, spinach will continue to grow after cutting the outer leaves. Be sure to allow the center leaves to remain, as they are the ones that will keep growing!
- Can you grow spinach indoors?
- Yes, you can absolutely grow spinach indoors. It is great for container gardening, as you only need a pot that is about 6-8 inches deep.
- Can I grow spinach in a pot?
- Yes, you can grow spinach in a pot. All you need is a container that is about 6-8 inches deep, which allows for 6-8 inches of spacing between the individual plants. If you want, you can grow each spinach plant in its own container.
- What nutrients does spinach need to grow?
- Spinach grows best in soils that have organic matter, such as compost, mixed in.
- How long does it take to grow spinach indoors?
- It takes spinach about 6 weeks to fully mature indoors.
- What is the best soil for growing spinach?
- The best soil for growing spinach is crumbly and loamy, with lots of fresh compost mixed in.
- Is spinach easy to grow?
- Yes, spinach is so easy to grow! Plus, when you start your garden with Gardenuity, you will have the help of our grow pro services at every step of the way; it is truly a fail-safe adventure.
- What is the best type of spinach to grow?
- Flat or Smooth Leaf Spinach is often referred to as the best type of spinach to grow. This is because it grows quickly, stores for longer, and is the easiest to clean.
- What is the difference between spinach and Malabar spinach?
- Malabar spinach does taste similar to other strains of spinach, however, it actually belongs to the bacillaceae family of plants, while spinach belongs to the amaranthaceae family.
Grow Your Own
Now that you know everything there is to know about growing spinach, you will love getting your hands dirty in your fresh spring garden. Vegetable gardening is truly so good for you – get started to learn why. Find your first container gardening kit, and start on a journey of fulfillment and growth that will stick with you forever.