How To Grow and Save the Seed Of Spinach
Latin name Spinacia oleracea, spinach is a leafy green vegetable that grows best in cool weather. True spinach is very cold tolerant. It is one of the first crops planted at winter’s end, and one of the last in early fall.
Spinach comes from central and southwestern Asia, where it may have originated from Spinacia tetranda, which is still gathered as a wild edible green in Anatolia. Spinach was unknown in the ancient Mediterranean world. The first references to spinach are from Sasanian Persia (about 226-640 A.D.), and in 647 it was taken from Nepal to China where it was, and still is, known as the “Persian green.” The first written evidence of spinach in the Mediterranean is in three 10th-century works. Spinach became a popular vegetable in the Arab Mediterranean and arrived in Spain by the latter part of the 12th century.
- Many culinary uses
- Spinach, whether true or warm-season substitutes, requires lots of nitrogen and water.
- It is a fast-growing plant and yields many leaves in a short time in the mild weather of spring and fall.
- Although it prefers full sun, spinach will still produce a decent harvest in partial shade.
- Plant about 4 to 6 weeks before the last frost in the spring, and again 6 to 8 weeks before the first frost in the fall.
- Space plants 12 inches apart; this gives leaves room to reach full size.
- Sow seeds ½ inch deep.
- Seeds germinate in 7-14 days.
- Germination temperature is 45-75 F.
- In zones 6 and above, leaves can sometimes be harvested all winter long. Farther north, it may be possible with row cover or high tunnels.
- We offer some warm-weather spinach substitutes as well, and these are quite the opposite: they yield abundant greens in summer’s heat, when growing true spinach would be out of the question.
- Several fungal diseases, such as downy mildew (blue mold) and fusarium wilt, can become problems.
- Space your spinach plants so they get good air circulation, and try to keep water off the leaves in the evening.
- In the spring, plants will grow tall and bloom (or bolt) as soon as the days are longer than 14 hours. Heat also speeds up bolting, since spinach prefers temperatures between 35 and 75 degrees.
- Commercial spinach seed crops are separated by 5-10 miles. Spinach pollen is so fine that it easily penetrates mesh screening, but is severely restricted by spun polyester fabric.
- Plants are either male or female. Maintain a ratio of one male to two female plants, though this is hard to determine until the seed stalks have formed. Close plantings in wide beds will provide the greatest chance that the ratio will be hit.
- Starting at the bottom of the plants, strip off the seeds (using gloves for the prickly type) in an upward motion, letting them fall into a bag.
- Allow to completely dry and store.
- They will retain 50% germination for up to 5 years when stored in ideal conditions (cool, dry and dark).