Spinach All the Year Round
Unlike many plants, spinach does not come from the Mediterranean area of the world. This is because spinach does not grow well in the heat.
Spinach is first mentioned in around 230A.D. and comes from Persia.
Well, first off, it’s “Greens” which we all know we should eat. Full of vitamins and iron.
The best way to tell you how good it is: eat it for six months and see how much better you feel.
A good rich soil, well worked loam is the best. However it will grow in most soils
Place in rotation:
Spinach is part of the beetroot family and grown after Onions, Garlic and Leeks.
I am not going to give too many varieties here. Best way to choose is to see what people around you are growing and have a look in your favorite catalogue.
It is enough to say: if you are starting out, do not get carried away and purchase too much. Buy a few and look after them properly and you will not become discouraged.
I like to grow heritage seeds and the two I use are:
Magenta Magic Orach also know as German Mountain Spinach:
I like this Spinach because it grow very early in year and gives me tender leaves that can be eaten in a salad or cooked. The trick is to pick them little and often.
The other variety that I use is:
This is my winter Spinach which I sow in late August. The plant loves cold and rarely bolts and will last all winter.
Below are two varieties that I would not grow.
This deals with cold, however very likely to bolt as soon as the weather turns warm.
A modern variety of spinach that is mainly grown for supermarkets.
Spinach is one of the first crops that I plant. The day that I sow Spinach seeds, is the first day of Spring for me. In a few weeks, I will be harvesting tender leaves and this is the main reason that I grow my own plants.
I sow mid February to March and again late August to mid September. This depends on the season, of course.
I always plant my spinach out as ” plugs”. In rows one foot apart and eight inches in the row. This leaves me plenty of room for my hoe.
The better the soil, the better the plant that is grown. I am fortune enough to have good soil. My allotment plot is on the banks of the River Thames and is made up of thousands of years of silt, the only draw back is that every three or four years there are floods, luckily they are mainly in the winter months.
I feed my soil with leave mould. I get the leaves from St.Johns College Oxford: heap them up in compost bins, and turn them with a fork every six months. After eighteen months I have wonderful compost which I dig into my raised beds.
Before I plant or so any thing in the soil I scatter chicken manure that has been dried and made into little pellets for easy> I just scatter a light scattering over the soil and then rack in. Great for enhancing the soil.
You can buy this at any garden shop, around ten to fourteen pounds for ten kilo;
This is straight forward. I hoe the bed every five days or so and if it is dry, I water.
Spinach suffers from all the usually suspects: Cutworms,slugs,aphids, beetles, leaf miners, to name a few.
As well as the pest, you have Downy mildew. If you get this, do not grow for a year.
I had this once and transferred my Spinach growing to a very large pot far away from my growing beds and that worked for I never had trouble again.
As for the pest: I find hoeing and spraying Aloe Vera MPD mixed with water every five days does the trick. You can use other natural liquid soaps, what every takes your fancy.
You can expect 2-3 pounds of fresh Spinach per plant. Of course, this does depend on time of year and what type of soil the Spinach is grown in.
There is also a difference in yield according to the variety grown.
Half a cup of cooked Spinach is considered one serving.
Storage and Preserving
Your can store your Spinach in the vegetables tray of your fridge for two to three days.
Another way to store your Spinach is to blanch the leaves in boiling water for two minutes and place in a freezer bag and freeze.
Not a good idea to cook in aluminum pans because the Spinach will pick up an acid taste and turn grey. Which is not a good look on your dinner plate?
Spinach is good to add to soups and salads, also makes a great topping with poached eggs, fish, chicken breast.
Strangely, you can cook Spinach in a microwave: place in a dish for three minutes.
The artists during the Medieval times took the color green from pigments of Spinach. They used this to make paint or ink. So next time you are in an art gallery, have a lick at the green!
Richard Haigh writes regularly at http://the-organic-grower.blogspot.com/ and invites you to read more of his articles about organic gardening there.
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