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Spinach

Spinach is one of those great vegetables that gives you a fast-growing, repeat harvest. Cut the older, outer leaves and let the newer inner leaves continue to grow for later harvest.

Served hot or cold, it’s one of the healthiest vegetables packed full of iron, vitamins A and C, thiamine, potassium and folic acid.

Spinach belongs to the Chenopodiaceae family including beets, chard and quinoa.

It can be grown from seed or seedling and will be ready to harvest within 5 to 12 weeks. Get a continuing supply of leaves by planting another batch 4 to 6 weeks later.

Follow our six easy steps to successful spinach harvest including tips along the way.

How to grow vegetables - spinach

When to plant and position in the garden.

When to plant.

Spinach grows best in cooler zones in Australia or as a winter crop in warmer areas. If it gets too warm, spinach is prone to bolting which means it flowers and seeds, and the leaves become bitter. For warmer areas try planting silverbeet or New Zealand spinach. 

  1. In cooler areas plant seeds in late summer to early autumn 4-6 weeks before the first frost appears.
  2. In warm temperature and subtropical zones sow in autumn for a winter harvest.

Location.

  • Spinach prefers at least six hours of sun a day, so pick a position in the garden to suit this.
  • If in a slightly warmer area, pick a position that will give some light afternoon shade from taller plants.
soil TLC tips in summer

Soil

Follow the steps for successful soil preparation.

  1. Turn the soil over before planting so the taproot has a clear path for strong growth. Good drainage is essential so that the roots don’t rot.
  2. Add well-rotted manure and compost to the soil and dig it in. For a no-dig option, try Seasol Liquid Compost.
  3. The pH of the soil should be at least 6.0, but ideally it should be between 6.5 and 7.5.
  4. To boost the soil add Seasol Plant + Soil Booster and a fertiliser rich in nitrogen such as PowerFeed Controlled Release for Tomatoes & Vegetables.
  5. Water in well and if possible, let the soil rest for a week or so before planting.

 

How to grow vegetables - spinach

Step 1 – Sowing seeds.

  • Seeds can be sown directly into the ground. Don’t plant seeds into trays as they don’t like to be transplanted.
  • Sow seeds every 10cm to pick baby spinach leaves or 20cm apart to harvest mature plants. The rows should be around 20-30cm apart and 2-3cm deep.
  • Spinach is also great in pots, so use a container that is at least 20cm in depth.
  • Water in well with Seasol to help increase seed germination rates.
How to grow vegetables - spinach

Step 2 – First growth

  • Seeds will start to emerge out of the soil within 7-14 days depending on the temperature. It may take longer if the temperature is cool.
  • When spinach sprouts, they only have two leaves. These seed leaves are thin and narrow.
  • Spinach grows a taproot that can be easily damaged, so take care not to disturb the plants as they grow.
  • Water your tiny plants regularly every day and apply Seasol weekly to help stimulate strong root development and healthy, leafy growth.

Note: This seed development is of a bean not spinach, it is used to show seed germination and growth.

Step 3 – Baby Spinach Seedlings

  • When the true spinach leaves appear and seedlings are about 10cm high, thin them out to about 10-20cm, so they are not competing with each other for nutrients and space.
  • Spinach leaves take up a lot of water to keep them juicy and dark green, so water frequently to keep them looking good.
  • Apply a liquid fertiliser such as PowerFeed PRO SERIES for Tomatoes & Vegetables every week to the soil around the plants to keep them looking and tasting good.

NOTE: If the plants are slow to grow the leaves can taste very bitter.

 

 

 

How to improve your soil with a green crop

Step 4 – Spinach seedlings ready for transplant.

  • Transplant seedlings from the seedlings you have purchased.
  • Plant them at the depth they were in the punnet, be very careful not to damage the tap root, and handle seedlings gently.
  • If the seedlings look a bit leggy and stretched, plant them a little deeper. If these seedlings are hard to seperate, soak them in a solution of Seasol before planting
  • Water your newly transplanted seedlings in with Seasol to get them over transplant shock.
  • Once a week feed your spinach seedlings with a liquid fertiliser such as PowerFeed PRO SERIES for Tomatoes & Vegetables.  As the seedling start to grow increase the rate to 50mL of concentrate per 9 litres of water.
Growing fast leafy crops

Step 5 – Spinach plant growth

  • Watch your spinach grow over the following weeks as the stalks and leaves develop and mature.
  • Spinach leaves and stems like to stay moisture to stay juicy.
  • If possible water the plant around the soil not the leaves in the morning so that they can dry out before nightfall. This will ensure that the plants are not prone to diseases such as downy mildew.
  • Apply a layer of mulch such as sugar cane mulch or pea straw to keep the soil warm , damp and free of competing weeds.
How to grow vegetables - spinach

Step 6 – Spinach harvest.

  • Keep a close eye on your plants and leaves and  harvest the whole plant or just pick the leaves.
  • Either harvest the whole plant or just pick the leaves/
  • Either way cut at the base or pick the leaves off the plant one level at a time, giving the inner leaves more time to develop.
  • Harvest the outer leaves when there is at least six leaves 100mm long. Don’t wait too long to harvest as bitterness can set in.
  • Once the leaves have been harvested, wash thoroughly, dry and store in a plastic bag in the crisper section of the fridge.
  • If there is an abundance of leaves, these can be frozen for later  use in stews and soups.
How to grow vegetables - spinach

Things to watch out for.

  • For an organic treatment for downy mildew, remove the worst affected leaves. Put them in a bag in the rubbish bin (no the compost bin). Remove badly affected plants.
  • Aphids can spread cucumber mosaic virus, remove affected leaves and spray with white oil.
  • Caterpillars love to chomp on plant leaves. Keep a close eye on these little critters and pick them off with your hand.
  • If it’s too warm or the leaves are left on the plant too long, the plant may bolt and go to seed. Check plants daily and remove plants that are forming a flowering stalk.