How To Grow Spinach,
Step By Step



Want to know how to grow spinach?

I've always had trouble growing spinach in the past, mainly because I never took the time to learn how. It's a bit trickier than just tossing spinach seeds around, but if you're a spinach-lover, learning how is worth the effort!

How to grow spinach

Preparation

Spinach likes well-drained soil and a neutral pH -- it won't grow well in a pH below 6.0.

It's a heavy feeder, so make sure to work plenty of compost into the soil before planting.



Starting your seeds

You can --

  • start spinach indoors at any time of the year,
  • start it outdoors in a cold frame in winter, or
  • direct seed it into the garden, even if the ground is still frozen -- it will germinate when the soil thaws.

Spinach grows very quickly, so only start seeds indoors 2-3 weeks before you want to set the plants outside or into your container garden.

Sow spinach seeds where you want them in general -- the seeds are so small that I don't bother placing them precisely. You can always pull stragglers for baby spinach in your salads :)

To help prevent disease in your plants, don't plant spinach where beets, chard, or cucumbers were grown the year before.



Caring for your baby spinach

Spinach seedlings (public domain photo)

Mist the area that you planted your seeds in well after planting, and keep the soil moist until the seeds germinate.

Once the plants have their true leaves, you can begin thinning the plants if you want to, keeping them spaced so their leaves just overlap.

Foliar feeding of fish emulsion, compost tea or worm casting tea can help in cases of slow growth.



How to grow spinach in the fall and winter

Many people have questions on how to grow spinach in the fall. When (and where) to sow spinach in the fall depends greatly on your weather.

If your autumns are hot and dry, your spinach plants may not germinate, so starting the plants indoors where it's cooler makes more sense.

In general, it's recommended to sow outdoors six weeks before the first fall frost then harvest right after the first frost, but spinach keeps so well in the ground that with mulching and/or row covers you could conceivably harvest your outdoor spinach all winter long.

And if your area never freezes (USDA zone 10 and up), winter may be the only time it gets cool and wet enough to grow spinach at all!

Those of you in particularly low zones (USDA zone 5 or lower) may want to consider growing spinach over the winter in containers, so you can enjoy your spinach longer. Spinach does very well in containers due to its short roots and quick growth.

Keep spinach away from heaters and nighttime indoor lighting, and water it daily so it doesn't dry out.

High temperatures, long days (even pretend long days due to artificial lighting) and dry conditions tend to make spinach bolt. A room that's seldom used at night with a sunny window would be ideal.

You might also like:

Growing Winter Spinach (from GrowVeg.com)


Preventing problems with spinach

The spinach plant's main enemies are slugs, spinach leaf miners, and blight (cucumber mosaic virus). Leaves that insects have chewed on are okay to eat (wash them first!), but blighted ones are not.

Spacing out plants so that the leaves just barely overlap or perhaps are a little farther apart and inter-planting with garlic or other strong-smelling plants seems to help the most with all three of these.

Planting blight-resistant varieties will help if blight is a problem in your yard. Watering several hours before dark will allow the plant to dry off and lower the chance of mildew or blight.

Remove leaves that turn yellow or have a purplish powder on the under-surface, and put them in the garbage -- do not compost them.

If your area has slug problems then don't use mulch unless a hard freeze threatens.

Be careful when weeding not to damage spinach plant roots, which grow just under the soil.


I hope these tips will help you know how to grow spinach in your yard, so you have the best outcome possible.

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