With a texture and flavour of its own, Spinach is a fast growing productive leafy green. You can grow spinach from seeds and this is the cheapest and easiest method. You can grow some varieties as a cut and come again plant for the baby leaves, widely used for salads, other types are grown into larger plants for cooking.
It is a cool climate crop, it also likes to be grown in a deeply tilled soil. Put these two elements together and you can grow spinach in the home garden with ease.
How to grow Spinach from seeds
We choose to grow spinach from seeds rather than seedlings. This is because the plant likes to send down a long tap root. This is easily damaged when transplanting. Seeds are also much cheaper than seedlings.
When you look at how to grow your own spinach you need to understand how it grows. This is a vegetable with a longish tap root, so it does need a good deep soil to grow well. It is also a leafy green, so lots of nitrogen and it prefers cooler climates. You can either grow spinach from seedlings or from seed. Young seedlings are OK, try to avoid larger older seedlings as they do not transplant that well.
- Start by digging over and weeding the garden bed to loosen the soil and remove any competitive weeds.
- Dig in well rotted compost and aged animal manure, so aged chook manure will be great, just not to much and dig it it well through a few weeks before planting.
Planting time depends on the climate and position in the garden. As a guideline follow these times, however local knowledge is always best. Growing season is from March through to October depending on the region this can be extended by using some shade cloth to keep things a little cooler.
Planting time will also depend on the variety, some new hybrids can be planted later in the season.
- In the cooler zones – Hobart, the hills areas of southern Australia plant spinach from April through to October.
- In temperate zones – Melbourne through to Sydney and to Adelaide, plant spinach from March through to July.
- The Sub tropical and Tropical areas are not suited to growing English spinach as it tends to bolt very early. In warmer climates consider growing Silverbeet.
As a rule, the later you plant your english spinach the more shade it will need. Spinach can also be grow hydroponically or in pots.
Planting Method for English Spinach Seeds
- Sow seeds directly during the growing period.
- Make sure the seeds are fresh or you may have germination problems.
- Space at around 20cm apart and plant in rows or patches over 6 weeks. A row every two weeks, this means you will get a continuous supply.
- being a leafy green crop, spinach does like a nitrogenous fertiliser
- Only buy small seedlings and be careful when transplanting, simply plant out and water in well with a liquid seaweed fertiliser. Although you can grow it from seedlings, the favoured method is to grow it from seed. Generally better results from not needing to transplant and thereby disturbing the root system.
- Simply snip of the leaves as you need them, the small ones are more tender, so get then while they are young.
Spinach is a crop grown for the leaves, it is a cool season crop and seeds are best sown from autumn to winter. The leaves are regarded as superior for most cuisines to those of Silverbeet. The texture and flavour of spinach works well with many recipes.
Botanical name – Spinacia oleracea
Common Name – Spinach
- Soil – Humus rich well drained
- Position – Full sun
- Climate – Cool to Temperate
- Frost Tolerant – Yes
- Fertiliser – Dig in aged cow manure and Bone Meal before planting.
- Spacing / Planting Distance – 12” (30 cm)
- Height – 30 cm
- Spread – 30 cm
- Growth Rate – Medium to fast.
- Water requirements – Medium water requirements, moist yet well drained.
- When to plant – Late summer to winter in warmer climates. Spring in cold climates.
- How to plant – Plant seeds directly, or sow indoors and plant seedlings out after hardening off, and before they become to large.
- Harvesting – Harvest the whole plant before the leaves become to large as they can turn a little bitter. You can pick leaves from the outside as they come large enough.
- Problems –
Bolting – This is when the plants go to seed early, usually caused by hot conditions or lack of water.
Downey Mildew – This occurs in cool wet conditions particularly when air flow is poor. Some varieties are more resistant than others.
- Pests and Diseases – Leaf miners, snails, slugs.
- Companion Plants – Dill, Sage, Turnips Beans, Brassicas family (Broccoli, Brussels Sprouts, Cabbage, Cauliflower, Kohlrabi), Celery, Eggplant, Leeks, Lettuce, Melons, Peas, Potatoes, Radishes, Tomatoes, Nasturtium, Strawberries
- Uses – Spinach is used as leafy green when picked young. Excellent eaten raw with a dressing, steamed, sauteed, or in traditional Spanakopita pie.
The variety that we all know simply as English spinach is popular, however a few others also exist,
- Amsterdam with its prickly leaves (Dutch spinach?),
- Winter Bloomsdale with its larger leaves.
- Chevelle – Very easy to grow and slow to bolt and used for ‘Baby Spinach leaves’.
- American Curled – Slow to bolt and more heat tolerant than some others.
- Hades – Thick leaves slow grower and can be harvested in summer.
- Medania is a newer variety, fast growing, large rounded leaves and slow to bolt.
- Perpetual spinach is a cross between Silverbeet and Spinach, a longer season and copes better with warm weather. What is commonly called Warrigal Greens is also known as New Zealand Spinach.