Popeye was onto something when he ate spinach to become stronger. This leafy green is not only packed with nutrients, but it’s also easy to grow! In this blog post, we’ll show you how to get started with growing spinach in your own backyard.
Types of Spinach in Australia
As its name implies, baby spinach is a delicate, young variety of spinach with a slightly sweeter flavour than mature spinach leaves. It’s often used in salads or as a garnish, but it can also be cooked. Baby spinach is an excellent source of vitamins A and C, potassium, and folic acid.
Also known as winter spinach, English spinach is a hardy variety that can withstand colder temperatures. It has dark green leaves with a slightly bitter taste. English spinach is rich in vitamins A and C and iron. It’s often used in soups or stews.
Malabar spinach is a heat-loving vine plant that originated in India. It has bright green leaves and a mild flavour often used in curries and other Indian dishes. This variety of spinach is a good source of vitamins A and C, iron and calcium.
Savoy spinach is easily recognisable by its crinkly leaves. It has a slightly sweet flavour and is rich in vitamins A and C, potassium and folic acid. Savoy spinach is often used in salads or stir-fries.
The semi-savoy spinach is a leafy green vegetable characterised by its smoother, lighter green leaves than the savoy variety. The plants are relatively easy to grow and are often used in salads, stir-fries, and other dishes. Semi-savoy spinach is high in vitamins A and C, iron, and other minerals.
When to Plant Spinach
Spinach is a cool weather crop, which means it can be planted as early as two weeks before the last frost date in your area. So, the best time to plant spinach is 4-6 weeks before the last frost date in your area. If you sow too early, the plants will bolt (go to seed) when the weather gets warm; if you plant too late, the plants will be stunted by the cold weather.
Where to Plant Spinach
Spinach prefers full sun but will also do well in partial shade. When planting outdoors, make sure to choose an area of your garden that gets at least six hours of sunlight a day. A north-facing window should provide enough light for your plants if you’re growing indoors.
How to Prepare Soil for Spinach Plants
Before planting your spinach seeds, you need to ensure the soil is adequately prepared.
- Till the soil to a depth of about 15cm. This will help loosen any compacted soil and allow the roots of your plants to spread more easily.
- Add a layer of organic matter to the soil. This could be in the form of compost, manure, or peat moss. This will help improve drainage and aeration while also providing essential nutrients for your plants.
- Test the pH of the soil. Spinach plants prefer a slightly acidic environment, so you may need to add some lime to the soil if it is too alkaline.
The Best Ways to Grow Spinach
How to Plant Spinach Seeds
Spinach seeds are small, so they need to be planted shallowly — about 1cm deep. If you’re planting several seeds in one pot or section of your garden, space them about 5cm apart. Once the seeds have germinated and grown into seedlings, thin them out so that there is only one plant every 20cm.
Watering and Fertilising
Spinach loves water and needs to be kept evenly moist throughout the growing season. Water your plants deeply about once a week, making sure the soil is moist but not soggy. To help your plants grow big and strong, fertilise them with a balanced fertiliser every two weeks.
How to Grow Spinach Outdoors
- Choose a sunny spot in your garden. Spinach prefers full sun but can also tolerate partial shade.
- Prepare the soil. Spinach grows best in rich, well-drained soil. Add compost or manure to your soil to improve drainage and nutrition.
- Sow spinach seeds. You can sow spinach seeds directly into the ground or start them indoors in seed trays. If starting indoors, sow the seeds about 6 weeks before the last frost date.
- Thin the seedlings. Once the seedlings have emerged, thin them out, so they are about 15cm apart. This will give them space to grow.
- Keep the plants well-watered. Spinach loves water and needs to be kept moist at all times. Water regularly, especially during hot weather.
- Harvest the spinach leaves when they are big enough to eat. You can start harvesting leaves as soon as they are big enough to eat (usually after about 8 weeks). Cut the leaves from the plant using garden shears. Leave enough leaves on the plant so that it can continue to grow.
How to Grow Spinach Indoors
- Find a sunny spot. Spinach loves the sun, so it’s important to find a spot in your home that gets plenty of bright, natural light. If you don’t have a spot that gets full sun, partial sun will do just fine.
- Get some containers. You’ll need one or more containers that are at least 10 inches deep with drainage holes in the bottom.
- Fill the plant pots with potting mix. Once you’ve got your containers, it’s time to fill them up with a potting mix. Leave about 5cm of space at the top of the container so you can water it without making a mess.
- Plant your seeds. Spinach seeds are pretty small, so we recommend planting 3-5 seeds per pot. Once planted, lightly water them with a spray bottle and cover the pot with plastic wrap or a lid to create a mini greenhouse effect.
- Remove the cover once germination occurs. This usually takes 5-10 days. Once your seedlings have sprouted, remove the cover and place them in a sunny spot. Water them whenever the soil feels dry to the touch.
- Fertilise monthly. To keep your plants healthy and happy, fertilise them once a month with an all-purpose liquid fertiliser diluted to half-strength.
- Harvest when ready. Your spinach is ready to harvest when the leaves are big enough to eat! Simply cut them off at the base of the plant using pruning shears.
How to Grow Spinach in Pots
- Choose a pot. Spinach grows best in well-draining soil. That’s why choosing a pot with drainage holes in the bottom is important. The size of the pot will also affect how well your spinach grows. A larger pot will give the roots more space to grow, which means your spinach will be healthier and more productive.
- Prepare the soil. Once you’ve selected a pot, it’s time to prepare the soil. You can use store-bought potting mix or make your own by mixing equal parts sand, peat moss, and compost. Once you have your soil mixture, wet it until it is moist but not soggy. Then, fill your pot with the soil and gently firm it down with your hands.
- Plant the seeds. Spinach seeds are small, so it’s best to plant several at a time. Place the seeds on the surface of the soil and then lightly cover them with more soil. You don’t need to bury the seeds too deeply — just a light dusting of soil will do.
- Water regularly. Spinach needs lots of water to grow well. Keep the soil moist but not soggy. If the soil gets too dry, the leaves will wilt and the plant will go into shock. Water when the top inch of soil feels dry to the touch. Add water until it begins to drain from the bottom holes of the pot.
- Harvest. After about 4-6 weeks, your spinach plants will be ready for harvest. Cut each leaf about 2cm from the stem — you can either eat them immediately or store them in the fridge for later use.
How to Grow Baby Spinach
- Choose a sunny spot in your garden. Baby spinach loves sunlight and will need at least 6 hours of sun per day.
- Prepare your soil by adding some compost or manure. This will help the spinach plants grow strong and healthy.
- Sow the spinach seeds about 1cm deep. Spinach seeds are tiny and need to be sown thinly in well-drained soil.
- Keep the soil moist but not waterlogged. Water the plants every day, especially during hot weather.
- Harvest the spinach leaves when they are big enough to eat. You can start picking baby spinach leaves as soon as they are 5-6cm long.
How to Propagate Spinach from Cuttings
Spinach is one of the easiest plants to regrow from cuttings. Simply take a few 7-10cm cuttings from the tips of your plants and place them in a jar or glass of water. Place the jar in a sunny spot and wait for the roots to develop. Once they have, you can transplant your cuttings into soil. With a bit of care, you’ll soon have a thriving crop of spinach to enjoy.
How to Harvest Spinach
You can start harvesting baby spinach leaves as soon as they’re large enough to eat — typically when they’re about 7cm long. For full-sized leaves, wait until they’re about 15cm long. To harvest spinach, cut the leaves from the plant using scissors or a sharp knife. Be sure to leave at least 5cm of stem on the plant so it can continue growing.
How Long Does Spinach Take to Grow?
Spinach is a fast-growing crop, and under ideal conditions, it can be ready to harvest in as little as 30 days. Of course, not all gardens are created equal, and factors such as weather and soil type can affect the speed of growth.
Will Spinach Grow Back After Cutting?
As long as your spinach plants are well-watered, they will continue to produce new leaves throughout the growing season. New leaves will grow within a few days after harvesting and can be harvested again in about two weeks.
Spinach Companion Plants
Onions are a great companion plant for spinach because they deter pests and improve the flavour of the leaves. We recommend planting onions about 15cm away from your spinach plants, so they have room to grow but are still close enough to be effective companions.
Beans are a great companion plant for spinach because they help improve the spinach plants’ growth. This plant also adds nitrogen to the soil, which helps to promote healthy leaf growth. When planting beans with spinach, be sure to plant them at the base of the spinach plants so that they can climb up the plants and support them as they grow.
Tomatoes make excellent companion plants for spinach because they help to keep away harmful insects that can damage the leaves of the spinach plants. Tomatoes also produce a type of natural pesticide called lycopene, which can help to protect the spinach plants from disease. When planting tomatoes with spinach, give them plenty of space to spread out, so they don’t crowd the spinach plants.
Garlic is another great companion plant for spinach because it helps keep harmful insects away. It also has antifungal properties that can help to protect the spinach plants from disease. When planting garlic with spinach, plant it near the edge of the garden so that its strong scent will deter pests such as possums from entering.
Common Issues and Diseases Affecting Spinach Plants
Like any other plant, spinach is susceptible to pests and diseases. These common problems can result in stunted growth and reduced yields. While there are many different pests and diseases that can affect spinach plants, here are the most common ones:
Leaf spot can cause the leaves of spinach plants to become discoloured and eventually drop off. To prevent leaf spot, it is important to water spinach plants at the base of the plant to avoid wetting the leaves. The foliage should also be kept dry, and infected leaves should be removed from the plant.
This fungal disease thrives in wet and humid conditions. Downy mildew causes yellowish spots on the top of spinach leaves, with a white or grey mould developing on the bottom of the leaf. To prevent this disease, water spinach plants at the base instead of from above.
Powdery mildew is another fungal disease affecting many different plants, including spinach. This disease can be identified by a white powdery substance on the leaves of the plant. Good air circulation and avoiding overhead watering can help prevent powdery mildew.
Aphids are small insects that feed on plants by sucking out their sap. While they don’t usually cause serious damage to spinach plants, large infestations can stress the plant and make it more susceptible to other problems like diseases. To get rid of aphids, you can try spraying them off with water or using an insecticide designed for aphids. You can also encourage predators like ladybugs to eat them.
Spider mites are tiny pests that feed on spinach plants by piercing their leaves and sucking out the sap. Infested leaves appear as small yellow or brown spots and may also be covered in webbing produced by the spider mites. The best way to control spider mites is to maintain high humidity levels around your spinach plants. You can also try using an insecticide designed for spider mites.
Cutworms are caterpillars that feed on plants, often causing serious damage to young seedlings. The best way to control cutworms is to handpick them off your plants (wear gardening gloves to protect your hands) and dispose of them far away from your garden since they will keep coming back if you leave them nearby. You can also use a chemical insecticide designed for caterpillars.
Spin’ch Me, I Must Be Dreaming of Leafy Greens
Spinach is a leafy green vegetable packed with nutrients. It is also one of the easiest vegetables to grow at home, even for gardeners with the brownest thumbs. But if you can’t seem to keep anything alive, don’t worry — our expert gardeners can help.