Rich in iron and vitamins A, B and C, spinach is an excellent addition to your diet and to your vegetable garden. This cold-hardy crop thrives in zones 3 – 9, and it’s best planted when the weather is still cool in the early spring or late winter. Follow these tips for a bountiful spinach harvest.
Planting and Germination
- Always directly sow your spinach seeds outdoors, as they are hard to transplant. You can plant spinach very early in the spring, as soon as the top several inches of ground are thawed. Don’t worry if you receive some snow after planting; spinach can survive the cold.
- Sow the seeds approximately ½ inch deep, and cover them very lightly with loose soil. Place seeds approximately 3 inches apart in a row.
- If you practice square foot gardening, sow 16 seeds per square foot.
- Spinach thrives in full to partial sun, so choose a location that receives plenty of sunlight.
- Ensure that the soil in your planting area is well drained. Spinach does not tolerate flooded soils.
- Make successive plantings every 2 weeks during the spring time. This ensures a continuous harvest of spinach throughout the late spring and early summer.
Care and Maintenance
- Water your spinach regularly when rain is not adequate, but be careful not to flood the soil as this drowns spinach roots and kills the plants.
- Only fertilize your spinach plants once during growing; wait until they are at least 3 inches tall to do so.
- If you prefer conventional fertilizers, a standard 15-15-15 formula is a good choice. If you prefer organic methods, top dressing with manure or compost tea boosts spinach growth.
- There are two ways to harvest spinach. You can pluck individual leaves as the plant continues to grow, or you can wait until the spinach plant is larger and harvest the entire plant at one time.
- If you choose to harvest individual leaves, pluck the outer leaves and leave the inner leaves behind to continue growing.
- Harvest your spinach in late spring before the cool weather subsides. As soon as warm weather strikes, it bolts, or goes to seed, rather quickly. Spinach that has bolted has a bitter, less-appetizing flavor.