Hopefully, you’ve already planted your spinach and are starting by this time to enjoy the fruits of your labor.
If you haven’t planted yet — and you have some seed on hand or can get some easily — why not take a chance on the weather staying cool for a while and plant a little block of spinach. Find a partially shaded spot in your garden or a spot that will be shaded by another plant — and who knows —you might end up with spinach into June.
Kind of Soil it Likes
Because of its taproot, spinach loves soil that’s been properly prepared by loosening down to 18 inches more. That’s the way my garden beds were prepared many years ago. They are still as loose and friable, if not more so, than when they were first prepared because of mulch that is always on them.
Seed – How old is old?
This year in addition to the new seed I’d ordered, I had some spinach seed that I thought was no good. It was about 5 years old – and sadly – quite a nice amount. Since all the viability charts for seed place the life of spinach seed at 1 to 3 years, I figured a good bit of what was in the package wouldn’t germinate. I choose a space at the end of a row about 3 wide by 4 feet long and scattered ALL that seed – thinking that I’d get a piece here and there. As you’ve probably guessed already —almost every seed germinated!
I planted the first of March and another small block the middle of March. It germinated rather quickly, but just sat there after that for about 2 or 3 weeks. I was starting to wonder if it was going to grow at all. But finally it took off.
Grazing – Keeps it Young and Tender and Extends your Harvest.
I treat my spinach like I treat my lettuce. I pick every day and graze it continually until it stalks and becomes uneatable — usually late June in my garden. It never gets big because I pick every day.
In my opinion – there is nothing much better than tender young baby spinach — picked fresh from your garden.
Suggestions for Use
Delicious in salads with young lettuces. A real treat sauteed for a few minutes with olive oil and minced garlic. Wonderful with pasta.
One of the newsletters from Organic Gardening some time back had a recipe similar to what I usually fix that made me so anxious for fresh spinach. The only thing different about their recipe was the addition of walnuts – which I think raises this dish another notch.
- I’ll cook whole wheat spaghetti – enough for two – and set aside.
- Then saute 1/2 cup of organic walnut pieces in about 1 tablespoon of oil approximately 3 minutes heat a little lower than medium. (Watch them – walnuts can burn before you know it. You want them “roasted” — not burned.) Remove from pan and set aside. (You might have to add another bit of oil to the pan at this point.)
- Add a couple of gloves of crushed garlic and saute about 30 seconds – just until it starts to get beige colored .
- Add fresh baby spinach. (At least 2 cups.) (I don’t want the garlic to burn —– so I’ll toss the spinach with it until mixed and clinging to the spinach, rather than just sitting on the bottom of the pan.)
- About 3 minutes or so in the pan should do the job.
- On each plate of pasta sprinkle balsamic vinegar and a bit more olive oil. (If you don’t like or have balsamic, try red wine or white wine vinegar.) Toss.
- Salt and pepper to taste.
- Sprinkle sauteed walnuts on top.
- Arrange pasta and spinach mixture on top.
- Top with fresh grated Parmesan cheese. It’s buttery flavor is a great compliment to this dish.
This is a beautiful dish when prepared as I have suggested. Makes an impression.
Note: The original recipe in OG newletter called for 1 clove of garlic; 2 tbsps. shredded part skim mozzarella rather than parmesan.; 1 tsp. of dried basil.
They did not use vinegar; nor did they add more oil.
At its Best in Cold Weather
IMPORTANT REMINDER if you love fresh spinach: Make yourself a note to plant this fall. (September or October) If you don’t have enough seed now for the fall — order it right away so you’ll be sure to have it handy when the time comes. (Planning ahead makes things easier.)
Taste wise – spinach is at its peak in winter and early spring. The cold weather brings up the “sugar” and it’s more delicious then than ever. It will be one of the best treats your garden offers!
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That was very helpful. My fall spinach has done so well but I just noticed that a few plants are beginning to bolt and I was fussing at myself for not planting some more a month ago. Now I will go ahead and plant some and hope it stays cool-knowing the weather here, it most likely will.
Glad you’re going to give it go Beppy. I always tell myself — one thing’s for sure — if I don’t plant I won’t harvest. 8)
Mine is just sitting there. It sprouted and now nothing. Its been cold and rainy here in northern Illinois.
Good to hear from you Don.
I think when the weather warms a bit we’ll both see a big spurt of growth from our spinach. I can hardly wait! Spinach is so sweet and delicious!
Good luck with your garden this year. Keep me posted on how you’re doing.
Okay, now I am on a different page with still more questions. Next year I will be a pro.
I planted spinach in a pot on my deck about three weeks ago. I am getting the impression though that it is going to be way too hot for the spinach. The package clearly says to sow after all danger of frost has past, but from your pictures it looks like you are growing spinach right in the thick of snow and frost. Even another garden website recommends that you can still sow spinach in April. So what guidelines do I follow.
On a completely different note, I have a pot of cilantro growing indoors but there seems to be some kind of gnats erupting from the soil. Do you have any idea what they can be and how to get rid of them organically?
As always thank you and I look forward to your advice.
Mail, spinach is a cool weather crop, no doubt about it. And yes, package instructions can be confusing. If you think it’s going to get hot and stay hot, you are probably wasting your seed at this point in time.
Sow again in the fall. About September. Maybe again in October just in case September was too hot. Even when the temps go below about 29 degrees spinach will winter over with a cold frame It’s delicious in the cold and snow because it brings the sugar out. (The spinach in the pictures with snow was planted in the fall.)
Spinach always does better for me as a fall crop. My spring crop if spinach bolts too soon for me.
Regarding your cilantro growing indoors: I’ve read about gnats that erupt from the soil in houseplants. I’ve never had that problem and I don’t grow herbs indoors because they do so much better outside. I remember those gnats as being a common problem so I’m sure you’ll find lots of info if you google.