Many gardeners like to grow vegetables all year long. In some areas, the dead of winter does not allow for much growing. Here in USDA Hardiness Zone 7a, we can grow some kind of vegetable for almost 11 months of the year. A favorite cool season crop for the area is greens. This includes lettuce mixes, turnip greens, Swiss chard, kale and perhaps the most popular of all ; spinach.
Spinach is one of the most nutritious greens available. Many varieties of spinach are available to grow in the home garden. Recognized as a great source of antioxidants and vitamin K, magnesium, manganese, and calcium; the leafy vegetable is easy to grow and has many culinary uses. Some sources say spinach has anti – cancer properties. Fresh spinach is low in calories and a good source of fiber.
Starting Spinach from Seed
I start spinach seeds indoors or outside in a cold frame in late winter months. Sowing spinach outdoors in the cold frame eliminates the hardening off process necessary for seeds that are started indoors. Learn how to grow your own spinach in containers or in a small garden plot. In a few weeks you’ll be happily harvesting the nutrient packed green while saving money on the grocery bill.
When spinach begins to grow outside, plant another round, perhaps of a different type, about three weeks after the first planting. You’ll continue to have baby leaves for salads while the older planting gets larger and leaves are perfect for recipes such as spinach-bacon quiche. Trim leaves from the outside of the plant, leaving the center rosette to grow and produce more leaves.
How to Grow Your Own Spinach
If you’re planting spinach outside in a cold frame, get it started four to six weeks before the average date of the last frost for your area. Cover it at night, but uncover during bright days so plants won’t burn. If you’re lucky enough to have a cold frame with a crank or other automatic opener, your job will be much easier.
Keep germinating seeds moist, but not soggy. Plant spinach where it gets four to five hours of sun. Pant seeds in soil that has been loosened to 10 inches deep and amended with well composted, organic material. When growing spinach in the home garden, avoid chemical fertilizers. When summer arrives, spinach plants will bolt (send up flowering shoots). Remove them from the garden at this time.
Repeat the process outdoors six to seven weeks before the first frost date in autumn. In many areas this will be your main harvest. Keep spinach plants protected through winter in colder areas and your spring crop of growing spinach will grow as temperatures reach above freezing in later winter or spring.
More from this contributor:
Growing Healthy Veggies: Starting from Seed
Helpful Hints for a Healthy Garden
DIY gardening: Cheating on the DIY