The vibrant green spinach leaves represent a nutritional powerhouse, offering a myriad of health-boosting and disease-preventing properties. They are simply bursting with antioxidants and phytonutrients – natural compounds that protect and nourish all the organs in our body.
Spinach has a very rich content of vitamin K, which is vital for bone strength. It abounds in vitamin A that preserves eye health. It also contains vitamins C, E, B2, and B 6 in high amounts, as well as minerals potassium, calcium, iron, magnesium, and manganese.
Even if you have a small backyard, planting and growing your own spinach is truly worthwhile having in mind all the health benefits it provides. Here are some guidelines as to how you can grow spinach both outdoors and inside your home.
Growing Spinach Outdoors
Spinach is not a picky plant when it comes to the location, as long as it is allowed to grow in cold weather conditions for a minimum of 45 days. It thrives in cool weather, being tolerant to frosts and low temperatures. Warm weather can cause spinach to bolt rapidly.
Regarding the most suitable period for planting, you can begin sowing the seeds in early spring, when the soil becomes soft enough to work with it, after the snow has melted. You can also choose to sow the seeds in the middle of August for a fall crop, making certain that the soil has cooled adequately. The seedlings should be protected with mulch or a cold frame. Some seeds can even hibernate during winter in this condition, waiting to grow with the arrival of spring. These crops usually have a good taste and they are well- preserved.
Spacing the seedlings
The distance between the rows should be around 12 inches, and the seedlings should be spaced approximately 3-8 inches apart. The New Zealand spinach variety is larger than others, so it requires wider spacing – 2 foot for rows and 1 foot spacing between the seeds. It is also recommended to dip the spinach seeds in water one night before planting since they germinate at a slower rate.
Sprouting time takes from one to two weeks.
The next step is placing row covers on the plants in order to ward off the pests.
When the seedling begin to emerge, the soil should be watered in moderation to keep it moist if there is not enough rain in the planting season, and enriched with a fertilizer that has high nitrogen content once the seedlings reach the height of 3 inches. Spinach thrives in soil that has pH levels ranging from 6.0-7.5.
You should remove the spinach plant at the base when the leaves have grown big enough for picking. You can either harvest the whole plant or pick off the leaves from the outer layers, allowing the inner leaves to mature. You should not expect them to grow again as quickly as lettuce or chard. The New Zealand type of spinach does tend to grow back rapidly. Once the stems grow 8 inches in length, you should cut back the ends to control the growth and the shape.
After you have collected the leaves, it is recommended that you wash them in cool water.
How to Store Spinach
You can keep spinach leaves in the refrigerator for approximately 10 days, but it is best to keep them apart from other types of produce to avoid exposure to ethylene gases. You may also safely freeze spinach leaves.
Tips for Planting Spinach and Other Leafy Greens Indoors
It is even more advisable to cultivate spinach in pots indoors on your windowsill since it will last longer and you can control the temperature.
-There are spinach varieties that are more resilient to diseases. For crinkle-leaf spinach variety, we recommend the sorts Indian Summer, Melody, and Grandstand. As for the smooth-leaf spinach we recommend Hector, Nordic, Olympia, and Space.
-To speed up the germination process, you should place a plastic material over the containers with spinach seeds and put them in a warm location. The top of the refrigerator is a perfect spot for this procedure, since it provides consistent warmth.
-When choosing the location for spinach pots, have in mind that the plant requires a minimum of 6 hours of direct exposure to sunlight. A sun-bathed balcony or porch is a good location as long as the temperature is above the freezing point. A room that is exposed to lots of sunshine is also a good place. Several grow lights can be also used to supplement growth.
Spinach deserves to be on our plates regularly, and it can be consumed in different ways. You may choose to eat it raw in salads, or you can sauté it with some garlic, add it to pasta and home-made dough, enrich your soups and smoothies with it… the possibilities of enjoying all the health benefits of spinach are endless.