Spinach is a cool season crop. It is hardy to light frosts and freezes. Plant outside as soon as the soil can be worked 12″ apart in rows 12-18″ apart. Spinach, like lettuce, is a heavy feeder. Consider working in some good compost into the soil before planting seedlings. Applying side-dressings of additional compost every couple of weeks will encourage more leaf production. Light, but evenly moist soil is preferable so water regularly.
Spinach reacts to hot weather, long days, or dry conditions by bolting. At that time the leaves will also become too bitter and tough to eat. Regular harvesting of the young leaves individually will encourage new center growth and discourage plants from bolting. You can also cut off the whole plant just above ground level with a sharp knife. Rinse leaves thoroughly, spin or pat dry and refrigerate immediately. For best nutrition, harvest leaves in the morning.
Spinach can be planted towards the end of the summer months for a fall crop.
Spinach spinacia oleracea
Smooth, very attractive oval leaves are
medium to dark green. Upright for easy
harvesting. Harvest 40 days.
Spinach culture –
Spinach, a green leafy vegetable, is an annual, edible flowering plant that is native to central and southwestern Asia. It prefers cool weather and may survive over winter in temperate regions.
Spinach is thought to have originated in ancient Persia, where it was known as “Persian vegetable.” Arab traders carried spinach into India, and then the plant was introduced into ancient China. Spinach first appeared in England and France in the 14th century, probably via Spain, where it gained quick popularity because it appeared in early spring, when other vegetables were scarce. During World War I, wine fortified with spinach juice was given to French soldiers weakened by hemorrhage.
Spinach has a high nutritional value and is extremely rich in antioxidants, especially when fresh, steamed, or quickly boiled. It is a rich source of vitamin A (and especially high in lutein), vitamin C, vitamin E, vitamin K, magnesium, manganese, folate, betaine, iron, vitamin B2, calcium, potassium, vitamin B6, folic acid, copper, protein, phosphorus, zinc, niacin, selenium and omega-3 fatty acids.
The three basic types of spinach are:
Savoy has dark green, crinkly and curly leaves. It is the type sold in fresh bunches in most supermarkets in the United States.
Flat- or smooth-leaf spinach has broad, smooth leaves that are easier to clean than Savoy. This type is often grown for canned and frozen spinach, as well as soups, baby foods, and processed foods.
Semi-savoy is a hybrid variety with slightly crinkled leaves. It has the same texture as Savoy, but it is not as difficult to clean. It is grown for both fresh market and processing.
Fresh spinach loses much of its nutritional value if stored at room temperature for more than a few days; however refrigeration slows this effect to about a week. For longer storage, it is best blanched and frozen, cooked and frozen, or canned. It stores well in the freezer for up to eight months.