Spinach is a gorgeous, leafy green annual that boasts many nutritional benefits when added to your home garden. There are countless amazing varieties available, and we’ll talk a bit about some of those cultivars and how to harvest spinach for the most delicious yield all season long.
Spinach has a long and winding history that stretches across several empires and an ocean. The word “spinach” comes from a Persian word meaning “green hand.” The Persians occupied modern-day Iran more than 2,000 years ago. Spinach continued to spread to many other cultures, giving some idea of spinach’s importance throughout history.
The ancients knew it, and now we know it, too. Spinach is widely grown in the USA, and farmers produce over 300,000 tons of it yearly. This humble, cool weather vegetable is a favorite across the globe and has a place in many of our fanciest, most beloved meals. Spinach is delicious, diverse, and just waiting for a place in your home garden.
- What You Need to Know about Harvesting Spinach
- How Many Kinds of Spinach are There?
- Check Out Bloomsdale Spinach
- Try Melody Spinach
- Grow Tyee Spinach
- When to Plant Spinach
- How to Plant Spinach in Containers
- How to Plant Spinach in the Garden
- Common Spinach Pests
- How to Make a Milk Spray for Downy Mildew
- The Best Spinach Companions
- When to Pick Spinach
- How to Harvest Spinach
- How to Store Spinach
- The Nutritional Profile of Fresh Spinach
- Easy Fresh Creamed Spinach Recipe
What You Need to Know about Harvesting Spinach
Harvesting healthy green spinach from your home garden is incredibly fulfilling, and showing your gardening skills to your kids and family members is a great way to bond over the summer.
Plus, growing your own food is a great way to save money and increase the quality of your meals. Discover how to harvest spinach and when to pick spinach for the tastiest leaves with these terrific tips and tricks for gorgeous greens.
How Many Kinds of Spinach are There?
Edible spinach grows in a rosette pattern with leaves sprouting from the root stem. The leaves are either slender and smooth or slightly crinkly, which we call “savoy.”
Spinach comes in three primary spinach varieties based on the leaves; savoy, semi-savoy, and smooth. Every spinach cultivar fits into one of these categories, and there are many cultivars.
It’s common to see look-alike plants such as New Zealand spinach and Malabar spinach in home gardens. These spinach imposters don’t belong to the Spinacia oleracea family, though both varieties are edible raw and steamed. Before we discuss how to harvest spinach, let’s touch on some of the real spinach varieties you might find in a home garden.
Check Out Bloomsdale Spinach
The famous cultivar called Bloomsdale spinach was developed in Philadelphia in 1874. This crowd-pleasing cultivar was first grown by D. Landreth & Sons Seed Company and is considered a long-producing, easy harvest-spinach. It’s also a cool-weather heirloom variety with low disease resistance.
Bloomsdale Spinach is popular among home gardeners for its glossy green leaves and earthy taste. When added to salads, sandwiches, or any dish, it’s allowed to shine; the leaves are thick and provide a delicious textural treat.
Try Melody Spinach
Melody spinach is a top-performing cultivar with crinkly, emerald green leaves. This variety was an All-American Selection winner in 1977 because of its superior spinach flavor.
Melody spinach varieties are vigorous growers, and it doesn’t take long to see results; they mature to harvest in about 45 days. These cultivars are slow to bolt in hot weather and are disease resistant to common spinach ailments like downy mildew.
Grow Tyee Spinach
Tyee spinach is a hybrid spinach variety adapted from another spinach type called Washington State. We grow Tyee spinach for flavor, and its deep green, slightly curled leaves (semi-savoy) are delicious in soups and casseroles.
Home gardeners love Tyee spinach for its superior disease resistance and slow to bolt in the summer heat. This variety is reasonably frost resistant, making it an excellent spring or fall crop.
When to Plant Spinach
Before learning when to pick spinach, we must decide the best time to plant spinach. Every spinach variety is unique, and the directions on the seed packet are most important when determining the ideal planting time. Generally, the ideal time to plant spinach is in early spring and late summer. Most gardeners plan for a spring and fall crop if warm weather permits.
Take your hardiness zone into account when planning your garden. The USDA Hardiness Zones map is a great place to start if you’re unsure. Choose a spinach variety that’s well-suited to your environment, and you can’t go wrong.
Some spinach is quite frost-tolerant, while others are susceptible to bolting in the hot weather; read the seed packet and decide accordingly.
How to Plant Spinach in Containers
Starting your little spinach seedlings is an enriching journey. Spinach seeds are easy to plant, eager to bloom, and prefer the soil to be a bit cool, which means it’s ideal for growing spinach in early spring for most varieties.
However, container planting methods make the soil temperature easier to control. For example, a simple plastic bag is an effective row cover on chilly days.
Choose a plant pot or container with excellent drainage. Spinach is shallow-rooted and requires lots of fresh water to produce lush, leafy greens. To germinate spinach seeds, select a balanced potting mix, pop a few seeds into the soil, about a half-inch down, and water well. Avoid mulch, organic or otherwise, as it attracts hungry slugs.
Depending on the temperature, the cultivar, and the season, expect spinach germination in 6 to 10 days. Spinach matures fully in about 45 days. Some spinach varieties do okay in full sun, but others need shade from the afternoon sun.
Always check the back of the spinach seed packet for the most accurate instructions to ensure happy, hardy spinach production.
How to Plant Spinach in the Garden
Learning how to harvest leaf spinach is rewarding, and the seeds are simple to sow. Spinach thrives in well-fertilized garden soil with somewhat cooler temperatures, and it’s grown for a spring harvest or fall crop.
Plant spinach in well-prepped soil, and ensure it’s worked through and lightly fertilized with a balanced all-purpose fertilizer. Plant your spinach seeds 1-inch apart and in rows 12 inches apart. Thin the scraggly seedlings when they reach about 2 inches; you want about 3 inches between the healthy seed stalks.
Depending on your growing season and hardiness zone, planting spinach in a cold frame or using a thermal row cover might make a great way to keep the spinach supply flowing all year. Plants generate relative humidity as they lose water, and placing them together in a covered space keeps them warm during cold weather and winter snow.
Common Spinach Pests
How long does it take for spinach to grow? The answer is way too long if you have a garden pest problem. Like most delicious leafy vegetables, spinach leaves are vulnerable to a few unwelcome visitors. Leaf miners, aphids, and a fungus called downy mildew are all pretty standard in spinach.
Healthy green spinach comes from keeping the soil moist and the entire plant free of disease. Organic pest deterrents are a big help around spinach harvest time. They can be as simple as household ingredients like apple cider vinegar for aphids, a milk spray for fungus, or professional food-grade organic insecticides.
How to Make a Milk Spray for Downy Mildew
A simple milk solution spray is the best all-natural fungicide treatment for downy mold and powdery mildew on spinach. You don’t need chemicals or fancy ingredients, only milk and water.
There’s exciting science to show how the bacteria in milk interact with the sun’s UV rays to disrupt the fungus and destroy its ability to stick around and harm your spinach harvest.
Mix the milk and water, and give it a good shake. Pro-gardeners recommended soaking both the top and the underside of the plant leaves with the solution every day until the fungus clears. Use a clean, repurposed spray bottle or a garden spray for easy application.
The Best Spinach Companions
Spinach loves friends, and a healthy garden has biodiversity with different plants and organisms. Spinach does well with other leafy greens like Swiss chard and soft butter lettuce. Spinach plants also enjoy growing alongside brassica family members like broccoli, cabbage, and cauliflower.
Growing and harvesting spinach beside tasty companions like radishes, onions, and peas is a terrific way to fill your vegetable garden with nutritious plants. Many are attractive to helpful pollinators, alliums especially. Don’t be afraid to try new seeds and new combinations in the garden to see what happens.
When to Pick Spinach
If you’re planning your garden calendar around how and when to harvest spinach, it’s straightforward and hardly takes any time. Spinach is a cool-season crop; however, it’s grown through the early spring and into the late summer as well.
If planted every ten days or so, new spinach springs up and is ready for harvest all growing season and until your first frost dates begin. Harvesting spinach is recommended when the plant has at least six true leaves. Once the plant is mature, the outer leaves are harvestable daily.
Spinach is at its best when it’s young and fresh; baby spinach is the same as spinach but harvested when it’s young, and the leaves are flavorful. Spinach plants are bountiful growers, and with regular watering and care, they’ll reward you all season.
How to Harvest Spinach
If you’re wondering how to harvest spinach, there are two different ways to proceed, depending on the amount of spinach you need. The “cut and come again” method is popular among gardeners who want a little spinach every day for a continuous harvest. Take a pair of small garden scissors and trim the outer leaves, leaving the baby leaves to mature.
For gardeners growing and harvesting spinach on a larger scale, it’s possible to cut the whole plant about an inch above the ground. Your spinach plant will send out new shoots to feed on the sunshine and continue growing for future harvests. It’s also possible to alternate these methods depending on your needs.
How to Store Spinach
Now that you know how to pick spinach so it keeps growing, it’s essential to have a plan for those leafy greens. Spinach stores reasonably well if you take the time to prepare it properly. All you need to store spinach are a few things from the kitchen.
Wash your spinach well, even if it’s fresh out of the garden; this brightens the taste and helps it preserve longer in the fridge. Give it a good spin in a spinner or shake well in a colander. The key to fresh spinach is a good air-tight container and something absorbent to line the bottom, like a few sheets of paper towel.
Once the spinach is as dry as possible, seal it in the container and pop it in the fridge. This method works incredibly well and helps save your spinach for at least a week. If you’re continuously harvesting spinach throughout the year, consider freezing the leftovers. Spinach holds up well in the freezer and keeps fresh for a few months.
The Nutritional Profile of Fresh Spinach
Your body needs many nutrients to run efficiently, and fresh garden spinach is certainly on the list of foods that are beneficial for most people. Spinach increases blood glucose control for people with diabetes and improves bone and skin health as well.
A single serving of 100 grams of fresh spinach provides 28.1 mg, or 34% of the average person’s daily vitamin C intake, and spinach provides significant amounts of other nutrients, too, such as 24 mg of magnesium, 0.81 mg of iron, and 167 mg of potassium. Harvesting spinach is a clever way to add variety, vitamins, and vitality to your diet.
Easy Fresh Creamed Spinach Recipe
The taste of spinach isn’t for everyone, and that’s okay. Arugula can substitute spinach to some degree. However, it’s easy to fool even the biggest veggie haters on your list with a fresh creamed spinach recipe. In less than ten ingredients, you’ve got a tasty spinach dish that makes 4 to 6 servings.
Use a large pot or a ceramic Dutch oven for this one. Set the heat to medium, add the butter and onion and then cook until the onion becomes soft; it should be about 5 minutes. Add the spinach to the pot in handfuls, stirring between each. Cook until the spinach wilts or 3 to 5 minutes.
Add the minced garlic and let it cook for about a minute longer; you want to smell the garlic beginning to blend with the spinach. Add cream cheese; 1-inch cubes are best, and then stir until completely melted.
Add the salty Parmesan and some fresh ground black pepper. Homemade spinach side dishes from your own garden elevate mealtime to the next level, and this one is sure to be a hit.
We hope you liked learning how to harvest spinach. This ancient and unique plant contains the helpful nutrients and minerals your body needs to keep you healthy.
Growing your own produce is easy and inexpensive. It gives you the benefit of knowing what you’re having for lunch without worrying about chemical repellents and treatments making their way onto the plate.
Spinach is diverse and delicious in so many different dishes; it’s impossible to run out of uses for it around the kitchen. There are tons of excellent spinach varieties to try, like Bloomsdale, Melody, and Tyee.
The “almost-spinach” like Malabar and New Zealand spinach make a great dupe if your climate is a bit warm for spinach, as it grows well in the hotter months. Keep experimenting, and if you’re just starting, we hope you’re inspired to get your spinach growing this year.
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