How to Spinach
Spinach - The food of Popeye! Spinach is a leafy green, known in particular for it's high iron content and minerals. It's light in flavour and can be eaten either raw or cooked (although too much cooking destroys a lot of it's nutrional value if overdone)
Although more closely related to the Beetroot, I treat Spinach as another leafy green and grow it in my leaf crop beds. There are a few varieties available, the main diffence being those that are more tolerant of warmer weather and whether considered a perpetual plant (one you can keep picking leaves off). Some are advertised as slow bolt plants.
Spinach has a tendency to bolt, (run to seed) which makes the stems tough and the flower spike reduces the leaf growth, and therefore your crop. This is normally caused by hot weather and or transplant shock. See the fertiliser page for information on reducing transplant shock.
What to do with Spinach
Spinach is quite a versatile early season leafy green. Add the young leaves raw to salads or sandwiches and the older leaves can be cooked in any number of ways. Have a look at this spinach flavour homemade pasta dough recipe on my friends site, pasta recipes made easy.
Matt has some great authentic Italian recipes that we will feature throughout. What better way to enjoy beautiful, home grown fresh vegetables and herbs?
Types of Spinach
Most people are familar with the English Spinach, though there are other options out there.
Malabar Spinach, is technically not a Spinach at all. It doesn't belong to the same family as the true Spinach varieties. It however, provides an excellent alternative to traditional Spinach for those that live in warm or tropical climates. In warm temperatures, even the most resistant spinach varieties will eventually bolt to seed. Malabar 'Spinach'has vine like growth, that is self supporting when a framework is provided. It grows thicker, fleshier leaves than Spinach, with a similar taste and thrives in warmer weather and rain, but will also cope with the warm drier summers of the Southern states as well.
Position: Shade to partial shade
Plant: Can be grown in pots or planted out as seedlings in late winter to early spring depending on severity of local frosts. Can also be grown from seed in punnets under glass or direct sown
Frost Tolerant: Yes - will tolerate milder winters if mulched Heat tolerant: No - excess heat will cause bolting to seed
Feeding: Plant in well composted soil that retains moisture (not free draining such as sandy soils. Spring planting won't need feeding if you have good rich soil, older plants will benefit from a liquid feed weekly to help leaf growth.
Planting group: Spinach is related to beetroot and can be grown with it, although I treat it as an early leaf crop and grow in that bed with early celery, later brassicas, asian greens and lettuce.
Pests: Main pests are birds/slugs/snails.
Harvesting: Depending on the variety, you can pick leaves from various plants to spread the harvesting burden, or harvest the whole plant when mature. I don't allow my plants to get too big as they are much nicer when young.