How to grow: Spinach

Spinach growing in the garden.

Spinach is a crop is not hugely popular as a cooked vegetable but the young leaves are used more in salads now. It has a reputation for being really high in iron, although it has no more than some other leafy or green veg.

So if you don’t like spinach but do like other greens then don’t be too concerned. It is extremely good for us though and as it can be grown nearly all year round, it is a good choice for the veg plot.

Varieties

The definition of spinach is a bit complex because true spinach is an annual. Some varieties have round seeds – these are usually sown in spring and give harvests through the summer – and another hardier type, with prickly seeds, is harvested into autumn and winter.

There is also New Zealand spinach, which isn’t a true spinach, though it looks similar but with smaller leaves. It is milder in flavour and is more tolerant of hot weather. Perpetual spinach is actually a member of the beetroot family so again not a true spinach.

‘Sigmaleaf’

A popular summer variety that is very bolt resistant and it happens to be quite hardy too so can be grown for autumn and winter harvesting.

‘Samish’

A late-sowing variety for growing under cloches or in polytunnels. Harvest the young leaves.

‘Tirza F1’

Good resistance to downy mildew, a disease that can be a problem on spinach. Also more resistant to bolting.

‘Triathlon F1’

Best from spring and autumn sowings. Fast growing.

‘Reddy F1’

An attractive variety with red stems and spear-shaped leaves. Sweet taste and Sowing time inside mildew resistant.

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A pile of Spinach on a white background.

Growing Tips

Sowing/planting

The seeds are sown about 2.5cm (1in) deep and 2.5cm (1in) apart. Once the seedlings are through, thin them out to 7.5cm (3in) apart and eat the seedlings as microgreens.

Don’t ever allow spinach seedlings to become too overcrowded as the stress of this will force them to bolt (run to seed prematurely).

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Growing on

Keep weed growth down and thin to leave space between each plant. Water well in dry spells and start to pick leaves as soon as they are large enough.

Leave the growing point intact so that more leaves will be produced. By sowing regularly spinach can be harvested for much of the year.

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