Growing Spinach:
How to Grow Spinach Organically

Growing spinach can be relatively easy in climates that are cool. Ideally, this plant likes full sun and light, nutrient-rich soil that retains moisture well. If grown in warmer temperatures, spinach will require partial shade.

Regardless of your growing conditions, this resilient plant should be a part of your garden… if grown anywhere close to its ideal conditions, it’ll put its canned store-bought counterpart to shame. You can start plants from seed or buy spinach plants at a local nursery to speed up your harvest…

Growing Spinach: Plant Snapshot (Spinacia oleracea)

growing spinach
  • Family: Chenopodiaceae (Goosefoot famiily)
  • Annual or Perennial? Annual – Ready to harvest 4 to 6 weeks from seed
  • Recommended varieties: Bordeaux, Renegade, Giant Winter, Harmony, Hector
  • Cold tolerance: Hardy - Will survive hard frosts and can be planted 2 to 3 weeks before the average date of the last 32 degree F (0 degree C) temperature in spring.
  • Required Sun: Full sun (at least 6 hours each day)
  • When planning vegetable crop rotation, group with crops from this family: Chenopodiaceae: leaf beet
  • Companion plants (see Companion Planting Charts for more info):
    • Companions: Cabbage family, Celery, Corn, Eggplant, Pea, Strawberry
    • Avoid: None
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Growing Spinach: Planting the Seed

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Spinach first grew in the Middle East countries, possibly Persia, also known as Iran. At some point between the years 800 AD to 1200 AD, the Moors brought Spinach to Spain. People started growing spinach in the United States sometime around 1806. Today, spinach is grown in many parts of the world that have cool temperatures for at least part of the year.

Spinach does not fare well in hot weather, as it tends. Cool, sunny weather and cool, well drained soil make the spinach plant very happy. This means that it is best to plan to plant spinach six weeks before the last average frost of the spring for a spring crop, and at around six to seven weeks before the first date frost is expected in the fall.

You can start spinach seeds indoors for a spring crop. This way, they can have some size to them before you place them in the ground once the threat of frost has passed.
Spinach seed germinates faster if it is soaked for 24 hours before you plant it.
Finally, there are many varieties of spinach to choose from. The main difference is in their leaves… some types of spinach can handle colder temperatures than others.

Snapshot: Planting Spinach

  • Planting depth: about 10 inches (25.4 cm/254mm)
  • Spacing in rows: about 8 inches (20.32 cm/203.2mm)
  • Germination soil temperature: 70 to 75 degrees F (21.1 to 23.8 degrees C)
  • Days to germination: 7 to 14 days
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Growing Spinach: From Germination to Pre-Harvest

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Spinach is a good plant for a beginner to grow when you know the weather is going to cooperate. It is also excellent for a child’s garden. The quick germination time of spinach is pleasing to little gardeners who are eager to see their first crop peek out of the ground.

If you would like to have fresh spinach continuously throughout its growing season, you can plant spinach every ten days until around the middle of the spring or fall.
You will need to thin spinach plants when they have developed two sets of leaves. Most people just trim the young spinach with scissors until it is around 4 to 6 inches apart. Don’t throw away the thinned spinach, for its young leaves are simply delicious in salads.

Snapshot: Growing Spinach

  • Preferred soil pH (see soil pH tester for more information): 6.0 to 7.0
  • Growing soil temperature: 55 to 65 degrees F (12.8 to 18.3 degrees C)
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Growing Spinach: Harvesting Time

After spinach has grown anywhere from 40 to 60 days, it is ready to be harvested. If the leaves look large enough for the salad or other dish you are preparing with them, then they are very pick-able! Just take care to pick spinach leaves from the outside of the plant. Leave the inside leaves to continue growing, for they can produce yet another crop for you.

If you prefer, it is fine to harvest the whole plant.

Snapshot: Harvesting Spinach

  • Time to harvest: About 4 to 6 weeks
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Storing Spinach and Freezing Spinach

It is best to use spinach as quickly as possible after harvesting. It stays crisper and tastes better when it is very fresh.

If you want to keep fresh spinach for a few days after it is harvested, do not wash the spinach leaves you pick. Store them in a plastic bag that has been sealed loosely. Keeping the bag in the “crisper” section of your refrigerator helps keep them the freshest.

Do not store fresh spinach in the refrigerator with apples, tomatoes, or melons. These fruits give off a natural gas that can wilt the leaves. For best results, wash and dry the spinach leaves just before use.

Spinach may be frozen, which is handy when you have a good crop. Simply wash the leaves and pat dry. The quickest way to prepare spinach for the freezer is with a microwave. Place spinach into a freezer bag. Seal bag and microwave for one minute. Cool, then freeze. Use your frozen spinach within three to six months.

The wind pollinates spinach seed, so you must let the plants you are keeping for seed stay in your garden until they start to dry out.

Snapshot: Storing Spinach & Freezing Spinach

  • Storage temperature: 35-38 degrees F (1.6 to 3.33 degrees C)
  • Humidity: 85 to 90% relative humidity
  • Storage life (unfrozen in above conditions): 2 to 3 days
  • Storage life (frozen): 3 to 6 months
  • Seed longevity: About 3 years
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Growing Spinach: Pests & Diseases

The following pests and diseases have been known to affect the success of growing spinach. For more information about preventing and controlling them, see Organic Garden Pest Control.

Pests

  • Aphids
  • Bulb mites
  • Crickets
  • Cutworms
  • Darkling beetles
  • Earwigs
  • Flea beetles
  • Garden symphylans
  • Leafminers
  • Loopers
  • Nematodes
  • Seedcorn maggot
  • Snails/slugs
  • Wireworms

Diseases

  • Damping off
  • Downy Mildew
  • Virus diseases
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