Get the Healthy Benefits of Spinach by Growing It Yourself
Spinach is known to have numerous benefits for your health—even the famous cartoon character, Popeye, says so. Besides, it is not that difficult to grow this green vegetable in your garden or an indoor planting area. Here you can find the information about how to grow spinach, including the right procedure to harvest and take care of it.
1. About spinach
Spinach has wide dark green leaves which make it belong to the leafy greens, a type of green vegetables that can be eaten as food. While it is consumed, spinach is highly versatile, meaning that it can be eaten raw or cooked without damaging its taste and its nutrition.
Originally, spinach comes from Persian (Iran) before it is introduced in Europe around 1000 AD. After the eighteenth century, spinach has been cultivated in several European countries, including France, England, and the Netherlands. Later, it is brought to the American continent by the Spanish explorers.
2. Types and varieties of spinach
There are various types of spinach with different characteristics which determine the best growing season for each of them.
- Common spinach, the usual type of leafy greens that cannot grow in midsummer due to high temperature.
- New Zealand Spinach and Malabar Spinach, two varieties of spinach whose appearance is quite similar to the common spinach. Despite this, both of them can tolerate heat, thus are considered as summer-harvest plants.
- Tyee, a spinach type which is tolerant to downy mildew. It can grow in spring or fall.
- Winter Bloomsdale, a crinkled leaf that is best to be planted in the fall. This spinach variety can deal with mosaic viruses.
3. Benefits of spinach
Just like any other vegetables and cultivated greens, spinach, especially organic spinach, contains a large amount of nutrition which is beneficial for human health. It is rich in iron and calcium, as well as a good source of various types of vitamins, especially vitamins A, B, and C.
4. When and how to plant spinach
Spinach is a cold and hardy vegetable crop, meaning that it can live through various weather and seasons, including the winter. Despite this fact, growing spinach is better to be done in early spring, in addition to fall and mild winter.
There are several preparation steps to do before planting spinach. Generally speaking, the soil in the growing area should be fertilized by aged manure in advance, or approximately seven days before planting.
If you wish to plant spinach in the early spring—the best time of the year for planting this vegetable crop, the preparation can be done at the end of the fall. Therefore, as soon as the soil becomes solid in the spring, the planting process can be started.
Alternatively, those who live in a northern climate hemisphere can start planting spinach in the mid-fall, or exactly before the cold weather comes. With this growing pattern, the crops can be harvested in the spring. However, when the winter starts, the plants should be covered by a cold frame to protect them from freezing.
While it can be planted in an area with full sun or light shade, spinach requires well-drained soil to grow, and the soil temperature should fall below 21°C (70°F). To start planting, sow spinach seedsto a depth of ½ to 1 inch, then cover them lightly with soil. Although the ideal number of seeds per foot is 12, it is still acceptable to sprinkle the seeds over a wide planting bed.
5. How to grow spinach indoors
Spinach is one of the vegetable plants that can be cultivated in both outdoor and indoor area. Growing spinach indoors is not less effective than growing it in the garden or planting bed. In fact, it can be an alternative way to grow spinach if you only have small spaces for gardening.
The planting medium that you can use to grow spinach indoor is some 6-inches-deep small pots. Other than that, the procedures to plant and take care of your crops are not different from growing spinach in the ground. After planting the seeds in the pots, you can place them on a windowsill to get the shade of sunlight.
6. When and how to harvest spinach
Spinach can be harvested when its leaves have reached the desired size and length. When it comes to harvesting spinach, it is not necessary to wait for taller plant or larger leave. Spinach is more likely to turn bitter as soon as it reaches the maturity stage. For that reason, the crop that takes too long to harvest may spoil the taste.
Harvesting spinach can be done in two ways: (1) harvesting at once by cutting the entire plant base, or (2) harvesting partly by picking the outer layer first and giving the leaves in the inner part more time to develop so that they can be harvested later.
7. Spinach plant care
Spinach plant is quite easy to grow as it can tolerate cold weather and only require little special care. In spite of it, there are still several important things that you should keep in mind when taking care of this vegetable crop.
- Primarily, keep the soil moist by watering the crops regularly. You can also mulch around the soil by covering it with decaying leaves.
- Fertilizer or supplement is only needed if the plant grows slowly or if the pH of your soil is insufficient. Keep in mind that fertilizer can only be usedwhen the plant is in the one-third portion of the growth.
- After young plants sprout to two inches, it is necessary for you to thin them until they grow apart around 3-4 inches. Becausespinach has shallow roots which can be easily damaged, the thinning process should be done
Because of the nutritional value and its versatility to go with various kinds of the dish, growing spinach is considered beneficial for many people. The fact that it can be planted and harvested in relatively easy procedures also makes spinach popular among those who like to grow vegetable crops in their garden. That being said, after you get informed about how to grow spinach and other related information, don’t hesitate to plant this leafy green and take advantage of it.