Spinach, or Spinacia oleracea, is considered to be one of the world’s healthiest produce.This dark green leafy vegetable is full of antioxidants and minerals that prevent cancer, asthma, lower blood pressure, regulate blood sugar levels, protect your eyes, strengthen the bones, contribute to having glowing hair and skin and prevent iron deficiency.
It abounds in magnesium, a mineral that regulates a lot of bodily functions.It is also rich source of potassium, iron, vitamins C, A, K, protein, and fiber.And here is wonderful news: you can easily grow it in the comfort of your home or garden.
Even if you do not have green thumbs, cultivating spinach is not at all complicated and everyone can do it successfully.If you follow some simple instructions, you will be able to harvest your own home-grown, pesticide-free spinach in no time.
This growing method also lowers the risk of ingesting dangerous bacteria, like Escherichia coli, which has happened with store-bought spinach in bags.
Growing spinach in a small garden outdoors
Do not be concerned if your garden is not spacious. You can easily plant spinach in containers and enjoy its numerous health benefits in as little as 40 days.
This growing method offers you another advantage: it protects the young plant from critters and pests, allowing you better control of its quality. You can also easily change the location of the plant.
We advise you to obtain seeds of the tinier sorts of spinach that are more convenient for growing in containers. You should also use new seeds for every planting season. Some of these varieties are ‘Melody’, and “Baby’s Leaf Hybrid”.
The containers should be 6-12 inches wide. Place the seeds ½ inches deep in the soil, spacing them at least 3 inches apart. If you desire to collect very tender leaves, the spacing of 2 inches will be adequate.
Location and temperature
Spinach is a plant that requires cooler temperatures, it is therefore necessary to provide it a shady area if you plant it in spring and summer months. Zones 5-10 are the most suitable for growing this vegetable. When choosing to grow it in fall months, you can place it in a sunny location since the temperatures are mild during this season.
The optimal soil temperature for cultivating spinach ranges between 10-27 degrees C. The seeds are quite tolerant to temperature changes- they will not fail to germinate even when the temperature is 4 C, and also when it is rather hot.
Soil and moisture
Spinach needs good-quality soil that is rich in nutrients, especially nitrogen. Fish emulsion and cottonseed meal are good fertilizers that can enrich the soil both before and after planting the seeds. Soil should be moist, but not do not allow it to become soggy. It should be well-drained, crumbly and porous. The pot should allow good drainage.
The pH level of the soil should be neutral, ranging from 6.0 to 7.0. The leaves will become yellowish in color if the acidity falls under 6.0.
Create an indoor windowsill spinach garden
Spinach is ideal for growing indoors since it does not need a lot of sunshine. You can choose to plant spinach alone or in combination with annual plants that require similar conditions, like marigold, parsley, and petunia.
This will make your miniature indoor garden even more attractive and unusual, as long as you make certain that all the plants have enough room in the pot to grow properly. “Catalina” is the spinach variety that thrives indoors.
Just purchase a couple of pots that should have a depth of 6 inches and wash and dry them completely. Obtain nitrogen-rich, partially sandy soil. Before planting the seeds, it is recommended that you add good quality organic mix to the soil, or apply some compost or manure that will gradually release the necessary nutrients.
You can enhance the growth of young plants by adding fish emulsion and manure tea in the middle of the growing process and also by using liquid fertilizer regularly. Mulching the sprouts will also help keep the moisture and ward off weeds.
As we have mentioned before, spinach prefers cooler temperatures and should not be exposed to a lot of heat and sunlight. If it becomes too warm and the plant receives more sunlight that it needs, it can produce a long flower stalk and the leaves become bitter in taste and lose the flavor. This process is called “bolting”.
Harvesting and enjoying the home-grown produce
You can begin to harvest the plant after it has produced 5-6 leaves that are a couple of inches long. This usually takes from 40-50 days after the seeds have germinated.
The outer leaves should be collected first, allowing the inner ones to grow. The young and tender leaves are the most delicious for consumption.
Most children enjoy growing their vegetables and crops at home. It is an educational and interesting project that also teaches them the importance of healthy nutrition. Moreover, research has shown that children are more inclined to taste and consume vegetables that they grow personally. Perhaps this could be the perfect incentive for your own children to begin eating spinach.