Spinach is an annual that grows to maturity in about 25-40 days. It is a hardy cool-season crop that does best at temperatures of 60 to 65ºF, but can withstand temperatures as low as 20ºF. Spinach is intolerant of temperatures above 77ºF, these warm temperatures combined with long days initiate the plants reproductive stage, causing it to bolt or flower prematurely. That means that spinach thrives when planted early in the spring for a late spring harvest, and late in the summer for a fall harvest.
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In this episode, we discuss:
The 3 basic types of spinach
Germination tips for sowing spinach in summer for a Fall harvest
Different ways you can harvest spinach
How to overwinter spinach
There are 3 basic types of spinach, savoy, flat leaf, and semi-savoy. Savoy-types have crinkled leaves and are usually grown in the fall because the leaves are thicker than other types so it holds up well in cold weather. Flat leaf varieties have smooth, broad leaves and tend to be grown in the spring.
Most spinach varieties germinate well in cool weather, but seeding for winter production occurs at the warmest time of the year, when spinach traditionally performs poorly. Keeping the seeds moist helps cool down the soil temperature, which improves germination of direct-seeded plantings. Spinach can also be started as transplants for the Fall, which means the seeds can be germinated in a cool, controlled environment, and then planted out as transplants.
Spinach can be grown and harvested in both a baby leaf form and a large leaf form. To grow baby spinach, direct seed at a rate of about 4 seeds per inch and do not thin the plants after they’ve germinated. Harvest the baby spinach as cut-and-come-again greens. If you’re planning to harvest large leaf spinach for cooking greens, transplant and/or thin the plants down to 1 plant per 4 inches.
For successful overwintering, it is important that you thin your spinach to decrease competition between plants and increase air circulation. Once your spinach has developed 3 sets of leaves, thin seedlings to 4-6” apart. Spinach can withstand hard frosts, so temperatures as low as 25ºF. Wait for frost to pass before harvesting. Spinach will continue to grow into the early spring.
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