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Spinach

 

Ease of Growing [Scale 1-5] - 1 (Easy)

How Time Consuming

Very easy and low maintenance.

Recommended Varieties   

  • ‘Palco’ Organic – Dark Green variety, can be sown almost all year round and is delicious added to salads in 'baby leaf' form or as mature leaves. Quick to establish, slow to bolt and mildew resistant.
  • ‘Primo’ F1 Organic - Organic Spinach F1 Primo Seeds are high yielding, slow bolting and show good resistance to strains of downy mildew.

There are lots of new varieties out this year in the seed catalogues all offering higher downy mildew resistance.

Home Grown Vs Supermarket

I don’t know anyone who would rather buy a bag of wet wilting spinach in a plastic supermarket bag than cut as and when required from your own garden.

Best Sites and Soils

Spinach prefers rich soil so before sowing, improve the soil by digging in up to two bucketfuls per square metre of well-rotted organic matter such as garden compost and raking in 150g per square metre of general fertiliser such as Growmore.

When to sow

Sow seeds of summer cultivars every few weeks from February (under fleece or cloches), or outdoors from mid-March to the end of May.  Sow winter cultivars in August and again in September.
Distance between plants - Sow seeds 2.5cm (1in) deep in rows 30cm (12in) apart, or in a large container.

When to harvest

Harvest the leaves continually once they're large enough to pick this will encourage the plant to grow more leaves.

Meet the Author: Jo Blackwell
Jo  Blackwell

Jo Blackwell is new on the Harrod Horticultural block and has recently taken over her post as Horticultural Advisor and Kitchen Gardener in Stephanie's Kitchen Garden. She caught the gardening bug when she bought her first home 18 years ago.  Her first greenhouse soon followed and she later gained an allotment, where she grows her own organic fruit and vegetables.

 

Further Information

Improving Soil / Feeding - To prevent the leaves tasting bitter make sure the soil is rich and contains plenty of organic matter.

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Guide to sowing and planting - Varieties such as Organic F1 Primo Seeds will start producing edible baby leaves after just two weeks, and plants will mature in around 10 to 12 weeks. You can keep spinach on the menu for most of the year as March to July sowings can be harvested right through to late autumn - and use protection in the form of cloches and fleece for seeds sown in November through to early spring.
Thin seedlings to 7.5cm (3in) apart when large enough to handle. A few weeks later harvest every alternative plant for use in the kitchen.
Keep well watered during dry periods in summer.

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Problems to look out for - Spinach is prone to bolting caused by the daylight hours increasing during summer it doesn’t like hot conditions either, so choose a variety that is resistant to bolting and pick a shady position in which to grow.  To avoid bolting ensure the soil or compost in pots is kept moist, especially during hot, dry spells. Using a temporary shade screen or sheets of shading material will help during very sunny weather.
Spinach downy mildew attacks only spinach and is worst in mild, humid weather. Well grown plants in gardens are not usually badly affected except in wet weather. The mildew makes the leaves unappetising. You can help to prevent this disease by leaving plenty of space around plants to improve air circulation, watering the soil at the base of the plants and by choosing mildew resistant varieties.

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How to harvest by type - Summer cultivars: pick between late May and the end of October.
Winter cultivars: pick between October and April.

Storing - Place loose spinach in a plastic bag in the fridge, avoid washing before storage.  Keeps for 3-4 days.
Spinach can be frozen, if blanched for 1 minute first and then laid out on a flat tray in the freezer for 30 mins to avoid leaves sticking together.  Spinach can then be bagged and frozen for 3 months.

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