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How to Grow Spinach


Spinach is a good vegetable for growing in our cooler conditions. Young leaves can be washed and used in salads, older leaves should be cooked for a couple of minutes as described later in this article.


Spinach Folklore 
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Latin Name
Spinacia oleracea

Half hardy annual

Site and Soil
Semi-shade or sun in a moist rich soil

Plant to Harvest Time
7 weeks

How Many?
150 grams / 5 oz per plant

Types of Spinach

INSERT PICTURE This article describes how to sow and grow real spinach (Spinacia oleracea). This true spinach is sown in early spring and will produce a crop from May to late October.

Many other vegetables have "spinach" in their common name but are not in fact spinach and taste significantly different. The most common of these is Perpetual Spinach which is in fact part of the beet family.

Site and Soil

Spinach prefers a soil rich in nutrients and one which holds water well. The best solution is to add lots of well-rotted compost material to the soil and dig it into the surface soil. A mulch added around the plants will help retain moisture especially in the summer months.

Spinach does not like the full heat of the summer sun, let the heat get to them and will bolt. The ideal site is to plant them between rows of peas, beans or sweet corn. In the early, cooler months of the year the spinach will get full sunlight. As the peas, beans and sweet corn grow they will provide cover from the full sun in the warmer parts of the summer.

Spinach is not one of those vegetables which suffers from soil diseases so it can be grown almost anywhere on the vegetable plot. Rotation is good, but not crucial for spinach.

How to Grow Spinach - Sowing Seed

SPINACH CALENDAR The calendar on the left shows spinach being sown outside in spring and autumn when the conditions are cool and it will germinate. If spinach is sown in warm conditions it will not germinate.

If you can sown your spinach indoors in cooler conditions, it can be spread throughout the summer as well. Just transplant the seedlings outside when they are 5cm (2in) tall. Provide some shade for those plants in the height of the summer.

Time Sow

Early Spring    

Mid Spring  

Late Spring  

Early Summer  

Mid Summer  

Late Summer  

Early Autumn  

Mid Autumn  

Late Autumn  

Early winter  

Mid Winter    

Late Winter    

Sow the seed outside in rows 1�cm / �in deep and with seeds about 2�cm / 1in apart. If sowing more than one row, space the rows 30cm / 12in apart.

When the seedlings emerge, thin them to 15cm 6in apart.

Care for Spinach and Bolting

Spinach is easy to grow if you keep them well-watered when conditions are dry. Any mulch around the plants will be appreciated because this will cool the rots and help to retain moisture.

Weeding is needed to avoid competition. However, if the plants are grown between rows of larger plants the space and conditions for weeds to grow will be greatly reduced. In effect, the spinach will take the space of the weeds.


The main problem with spinach is that it bolts very easily. As suggested earlier in this article, plant it between rows of taller plants such as dwarf peas. The other alternative as far as spinach bolting is concened is make an autumn sowing (see the sowing / harvest chart above)

How to Grow Spinach - Harvest

Harvest a few leaves from each plant making sure that you leave at least half of the leaves on the plant. Over-harvesting will kill the plants. To reduce the speed at which the leaves wilt, cut them off as near to the base of the plant as possible and do it in the morning or evening. The younger the leaves, the tastier they are.

When you pick the leaves put them in a plastic bag and place them in the fridge as soon as possible.

Cooking and Storing

Spinach will keep in the fridge for a couple of days and can also be very successfully frozen where they will keep for 3 months.

To cook spinach it first needs to be washed a couple of times to remove any mud or soil. Melt about 15 grams / � oz of butter in a large pan on a medium heat. When the butter has melted add 450 grams / 1 lb of spinach to the pan. You will need to firm then in. The amount will look huge initially but they reduce to almost nothing.

Cover the pan with a lid and cook for 30 seconds or so. Take the lid off, add some salt and pepper and give the spinach a good mix. Cook for another minute and a half or so until the leaves are fully wilted. Drain and serve immediately.

That's the basic recipe. Lots of other ingredients can be added including finely chopped garlic, a small amount of nutmeg and lemon juice. Give them a try. If you want a recipe to use up excess spinach, try our Fragrant Chicken Curry which needs lots of spinach. This recipe is for a slow cooker but it can also be cooked equally well in a pan on a very low heat.

An alternative recipe for the adventurous can be found here. This is an old fashioned recipe from Mrs Beeton which uses some spinach.

Recommended Varieties
New F1 varieties of spinach are very reliable and tasty. Two varieties we would recommend are:

Scenic F1
This variety has great resistance to downy mildew and reliably produces a good crop. AGM.

Cut the leaves of this variety when they are young and they can be used raw for salads. The stems and veins are red making them a very attractive addition to salads.


Name: Lucky Dorrin
Date posted: October 05, 2011 - 05:57 am
Message: I am doing some gardening with kids of about 5 years and I will like some advice on where to get seeds for planting because most of the shops I visited only have bulbs and I need a plant that will not take long to harvest in order to keep the Kids interested.
We did plant spinach on the 28th of september and it has started growing but I need more ideas please...Thanks

Name: prasanth
E-mail: Private
Date posted: August 29, 2010 - 11:52 am
Message: i am interested to know vegetables and strawberry plantation