Growing spinach, Spinach, a native plant of Central and Western Asia, belongs to the Amaranthaceae family cultivated for its green leaves. People can consume this leafy plant in various forms, be it boiling in water or raw; however, the taste varies due to the high oxalate content, which reduces due to boiling. The biological name of this particular plant, Spinacia olaracea belongs to the subfamily Chenopodioideae. The plant’s life expectancy considerably reduces once the soil gets removed, so storing them using canning, freezing, or dehydration may improve the life expectancy for a few days.
Overview of Spinach
They areleafy type flowering plant type variants.
They mature within a brief period of about 45 days.
A fully grown spinach plant becomes 2-30 cm long and 1-15 cm broad.
Loamy soils are ideal for planting Spinach with proper well-drain soil structure.
They grow best in partial shade and often dry out if placed in direct sunlight.
Hardiness (USDA Zone)
They should get sowed 12 inches apart when calculating row to row.
All-year-round plant excepts in the months from December to February.
Deep Green color.
It takes about 45 days for a spinach plant to be ready for cultivation.
Central and Western Asia.
It is one of the low maintenance plants where a steady watering during the growth period and excellent climatic conditions help their profitable growth. Overwatering should get avoided as it may rot the roots; a well-drained soil structure and soil rich in organic matters allow the plant during its growing period.
History of Spinach Plant:
Spinach originated in ancient Persia, Iran and made its way into the Indian subcontinent via Nepal. In ancient Persia, they got fondly called aspanakh for their green leafy appearance. Spinach made its way into China in the early part of the 7th century, when the king of Nepal sent it as a gesture of goodwill. In the later parts of the 11th century, it made its way into the European household of Spain by the Moors.
In European countries, such as England, it often got referred to as the Spanish Vegetable. From Europe, it founded its way into the States of America in the 19th century, and recently, it gained a massive boost in popularity thanks to the cartoon character Popeye, who often attributed Spinach for its inhuman strength. When Popeye hit the screens in 1929, Spinach spontaneously became the third most popular vegetable in the United States of America.
Spinach, belonging to the beets and quinoa family, is loaded with nutrients and antioxidants. Consuming Spinach has shown positive results on the health of the eye and significantly reduces oxidative stress. The antioxidant contains in Spinach helps prevent cancer and reduce the sugar level in the blood. The carbs have in Spinach gets made up of fiber. The low glucose level made it one of the staple vegetables in households of people with diabetic issues. The insoluble fiber present helps improve bowel movement in a person, and there are several benefits to it.
The broad groups of Vitamin present in this leafy vegetable help people tackle various vitamin deficiency diseases. Minerals such as Iron, Folic acids, and calcium compensate the body with the required demand for healthy well-being. Spinach contains a variety of plant compounds like Lutein, Kaempferol, Nitrates, Quercetin, and Zeaxanthin affect the nutritional well-being of our body in various ways. However, there are certain downsides when consuming Spinach with the likes of Kidney stone formation and blood clotting issues. People consuming blood thinners should consult a doctor before including this leafy vegetable in their diet.
Nutrition and Minerals for Spinach:
Spinach grows best when supplied with plenty of fertilizers, with nitrogen fertilizers topping the chart. The dark green color leaves grow due to the high nitrogen content in the soil. When sowing the spinach seeds, use general garden fertilizers in the ratio 10-10-10 at a 2-3 pounds rate per 100 sq feet. Mix the soil with fertilizers about 3 inches and keep adding every 30 days. The plant prefers a cool temperature for the seeds to germinate. The endurance of the spinach plant to withstand cold temperature ranges from 7-24 degrees C but can withstand a low as -9 degrees C.
Peat soils often get used, and they generate a healthy yield. The use of alfalfa meal in the ground increases the nitrogen content, one of the essential nutrients for its growth. One can use Blood meal to spoil instead of Alfalfa, but it will attract meat-eating animals to the cultivation area. Every 30 days, add a healthy proportion of organic fertilizers and cover crops, compost, and manure making the soil rich in nutrients. The decomposing organic matters of the earth will add a healthy share of microbes into the earth, which will help in breaking organic matters of the soil and make them suitable for the roots to absorb.
When to Plant Spinach:
The best time for Growing Spinach belongs to the weather season. The plantation thrives when it receives frost, and a perfect soil temperature makes the yield suitable. To begin with, before sowing the Spinach seeds, one needs to prepare the soil using organic nitrogen-rich fertilizers and compost. The best thing one can give the plant the required six weeks of cool weather from seeding to the day of harvest. The soil temperature for the Spinach seed to germinate ranges from 60-70 degrees F; in the early spring, cultivators can do successive plantings for a year-round supply of Spinach.
People residing in the northern parts of the world can begin Harvesting Spinach in the early spring if they get planted before the cold weather arrives in the fall. During the winter season, cultivators must protect the plant by using thick mulch or cold frames from the harsh cold air of the winter. The protection needs removal when the soil temperature reaches about 40 degrees F. One can sow Spinach seeds in the summer months, but they are of a unique New Zealand Spinach variant. People living in countries with mild winter can start Planting spinach seeds in the fall when the soil temperature drops to the optimal limit for growth.
How to grow Spinach:
Picking the perfect spot for sowing spinach seeds plays a vital role in its future yield. Pick a place where it receives partial sunlight with a well-draining soil structure. Now, begin preparing the soil using old manure that adds nitrogen to it. One can do crop rotation along with Spinach using heavy feeder crops to prevent soil exploitation. Theoretically, one can begin sowing in indoor areas and then transfer the spinach seedlings to the garden area. In practicality, the plant cannot withstand the transfer shock and eventually dies. So, begin outdoors, sow the spinach seeds ½ -1 inch deep soil, and provide a light soil cover for healthy growth sow about 12 seeds every foot of the row to witness desirable results.
When it comes to fertilizing, some experts suggest going for the soil test and adding manure depending on the outcome. However, for a layperson, if the plant grows slowly, add fertilizers or supplements in case of a pH imbalance. The need to keep the moist soil plays a leading role, so heavy mulching is always advisable; when the Spinach seedling sprouts, start thinning to about 3-4 inches apart, and anything more than can cause permanent damage due to its shallow roots. Growing Spinach indoors should not be the priority of any cultivator due to the risk of the transfer shock.
How to Harvest Spinach:
The best indicator used worldwide to pick the perfect time for Harvesting spinach is the size of the leaves. Once the leaves reach a specific size, begin the process of harvesting else, the leaves start tasting bitter. The whole plant harvest by cutting from the base or picking the leaves layer by layer; both options are available to the harvester. The second option of harvesting spinach layer by layer helps the inner leaves develop further and improve the yield from each plant more.
Types of Spinach:
- Giant Nobel: It is one of the leafy spinach varieties cultivated for its greeny leaves.
- Winter Bloomsdale: A mosaic virus-resistant variety with a crinkled leaf appearance. The type falls under the fall category along with Tyee.
- Tyee: This spinach variant can get planted in the spring or fall, and they are resistant to the downy mildew.
- Malabar Spinach and New Zealand Spinach: They are among the few heat-tolerant spinach varieties that taste very similar to common Spinach. They are an alternative to ordinary Spinach in the summer season.
Where to plant Spinach seedlings
There is a wide range of places for Spinach growing, ranging from garden areas to containers and pots. One can very quickly start growing Spinach in containers if the cultivator follows some simple steps. The size of the container or pot should not be less than 6-8 inches deep, and the shape should be somewhat rectangular. The depth of the pot gives them ample space to grow deep and spread properly.
The most significant advantage of increasing Spinach in pots, they are easily movable from one place to another according to the need. The pH of the soil should range on the neutral side, and steps should get taken in case the level changes. The earth used in the containers should always come in loamy type with a bit crumbly and rich in organic matters. Excessive sunlight is a big no when growing Spinach from seed as they dry, and planting spinach seedlings under such conditions fetch no fruitful results except for a few variants.
How to store Spinach:
The job of storing and keeping them fresh involves a lot of steps and should get followed stringently. Wrapping the spinach leaves in paper towels after harvest fetched good results. Once covered, store them in the fridge for roughly about ten days. Using paper towels instead of plastic bags helps the leaves remain fresh by soaking the excess moisture from the leaves.
Pests and Pesticides for the Spinach:
- Aphids are tiny insects, the biggest enemy for spinach cultivation, and get tackled using ladybugs. They feast on the aphids keeping the plant free from them. One can use sprays to kill the aphids, but that won’t fall under the organic category.
- Cabbage Loopers: They attack the leaves and have a distinct grayish color to them. These caterpillars can prove detrimental to the plant’s health, and there are few ways to deal with them. One is picking them out of the plantation using hand or covering the entire cultivation using insect netting.
- Cutworms: They are one of the most aggressive growing pests that attack spinach cultivation, and they look like light brown worms. Using Diatomaceous earth around the seedling helps the cultivator to keep these pests in check.
- Easy sautéed SpinachGarlic sautéed Spinach
- Creamed Spinach.