spinachIT IS NEVER TOO EARLY to plant spinach, and in fact I often feel as if I am running behind on that score. Even though there are snow squalls predicted for later this week in my area, it’s time. Last September through Thanksgiving would have been even better. If I’d sown then, the little plants would have taken advantage of every thaw over these last months to put on a bit of growth, and I’d have harvested spinach in April (which is when most Northeners like me first sow theirs, much delaying gratification). In case there isn’t snow cover to insulate the babies, I put a floating row cover over the planting to tuck them in for the winter. Spinach loves the cold, and germination is patchy at best when the soil is hot.

I broadcast my seeds in blocks, but a more orderly effect can be had by spacing 4-inch-wide bands of seed about an inch apart, and repeating with some more bands every week or so. Baby leaves for salad can be clipped with scissors (after three weeks to a month from an early spring sowing) or harvest the whole plant, roots and all, once the plants mature (in just under five weeks for some varieties to about six for others). Careful, though: don’t let them go a moment too long. Spinach that has bolted isn’t a pretty sight. One kind I always grow is ‘Space,’ which resists the temptation to self-destruct that way longer than most. If you prefer Savoy leaves to smooth, try ‘Tyee’ instead.

  1. gardenboy says:

    But have you planted the peas yet? Some of the fall spinach overwintered so I should have enough for a salad in another couple of weeks. Next fall a coldframe to extend the season right through the winter.

  2. margaret says:

    The spinach is officially in, but there was so much frost in the ground where the peas are to go I’ll have to wait a little longer on that score.
    I had to laugh at Amanda’s comment on finding your tools–every year I find something when I turn the compost heap, and just yesterday it was a pair of glasses (lost last week) and a trowel (who knows what vintage). Horticultural archaeology.

  3. Amanda le Bronze says:

    I could use some spinach. Sounds good ! I just did some spring cleaning and discovered my gardening tools. It has been winter so long I have forgotten about the spring. Thank goodness it is around the corner !

  4. Dizzydog says:

    Isn’t spinach amazing. I planted some in a cold frame last fall. It has survived near zero temperatures. I can’t imagine how. It doesn’t grow much in such cold weather but I have had an occasional salad all winter.

    1. margaret says:

      Welcome, Dizzydog. Yes, an exceptionally tough and weatherproof crop, that’s for certain. Thanks for confirming the experience I’ve had by sharing yours, and come again soon.

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