How to Grow Organic Spinach

Three Methods:Prepare the SoilPlant the SeedsHarvest the Spinach

Spinach is one of the leafy greens that provide more nutrients than any other food.[1] Organic spinach is low in calories and high in vitamins and minerals. Learn how to grow organic spinach and produce your own large harvests of this vitamin-rich vegetable.

Method 1
Prepare the Soil

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    Till the soil as soon as the ground thaws in the spring. It’s best to till the soil to a depth of at least 12” (30 cm) because spinach has a very deep taproot. If you don’t have a tiller, you can use a garden spade to turn over the soil.
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    Work in organic matter. Use a shovel to work in generous amounts of rich, organic matter.
    • Add alfalfa meal to the soil. This will increase the nitrogen level in the soil, which will encourage fast growth. (Blood meal also adds nitrogen, and some organic farmers use it, but it can attract unwanted meat-eating animals, such as raccoons.)
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    Test the pH level of your soil. Spinach thrives in soil that has a pH level between 6.5 and 7.5. You can take a soil sample to your local nursery or agricultural extension service.

Method 2
Plant the Seeds

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    Ensure a higher germination rate. Place your spinach seeds between wet paper towels, put the towels in a sealable plastic bag and store them in the refrigerator for 7 days before you are ready to plant them.
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    Use a hoe to smooth the soil. Tamp the soil lightly, forming rows that have a depression of 1/2" (1.3 cm). The rows should be about 10” (25 cm) apart.
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    Place the seeds 1” (2.5 cm) apart. Planting the seeds too close together will make it harder to thin them later on.
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    Cover the seeds. Sprinkle soil over the seeds and lightly tamp the soil with a hoe or with the palm of your hand. Use just enough soil to cover the seeds.
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    Water the seeds. You should water immediately after planting. It’s best to water your spinach seeds with a sprinkling can so that you don’t dislodge the seeds. Once the plants have rooted, you can switch to a garden hose.
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    Keep sowing seeds. Plant several new rows of spinach every 7 to 10 days during the spring if you want to enjoy fresh spinach all season long. You can even plant spinach seeds in the late fall for an early spring crop. Freezing weather won’t harm the seeds.
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    Thin young seedlings. To ensure healthy, strong plants, thin seedlings to 6” (15 cm) apart once 2 true leaves have formed. (True leaves are fully formed.)
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    Provide shade. Spinach is a cool weather crop and will bolt (go to seed) if the weather is too hot and it gets too much sun. Provide a shade cloth or plant the spinach in the shade of taller vegetables, such as pole beans.

Method 3
Harvest the Spinach

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    Harvest your spinach when it matures. The average maturation time is between 43 and 50 days. By that time, there should be at least 6 leaves on each of your spinach plants. Pick baby spinach leaves from all the plants, so that every plant will keep growing to maturity.
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    Prevent your plants from bolting. When bolting, the spinach will begin to form a center stalk. If this happens, your spinach will be tough and bitter. Remove large developed leaves and remove any brown, withered or diseased leaves to prevent your spinach from bolting too early. You can start picking leaves as soon as they are big enough to eat.
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    Add fertilizer to encourage new growth. Once your spinach plants have at least 4 true leaves, add some organic fertilizer to the soil. The spinach will not only grow faster, it will taste sweeter.

Tips

  • Purchase organic compost from your local nursery if you don’t have your own compost bin.
  • Keep your spinach fresh by drying unwashed leaves and storing them in a paper bag. When you are ready to use the leaves for a salad or for cooking, gently wash the leaves. If they are wilted, you can immerse them in ice cold water for 15 minutes to rejuvenate them.
  • Keep the soil moist, but not soggy.

Warnings

  • Organic spinach should be washed before eating. The lack of pesticides or other harmful chemicals doesn’t mean the leaves are free of dirt or insect droppings.
  • Spinach will bolt if you allow the soil to dry out.

Things You’ll Need

  • Organic spinach seeds
  • Paper towels
  • Sealable plastic bag
  • Tiller or spade
  • Hoe

Sources and Citations

  • James Underwood Crockett, Crockett’s Victory Garden, (Boston, MA; Little, Brown 1977)

Article Info

Categories: Growing Vegetables