Spinach as one of the most nutritional vegetables is wanted in each private garden. I'm a big fan of spinach as a side dish and as a salad. I'm presuming you are also, and if you would like to have a few containers filled with spinach in your home as I do, then you're in luck!
Since it is a cool-weather crop, learning how to grow spinach in containers is quite easy. Just assign a place for it in a shady spot in your home and get ready to sow!
Spinach Varieties For Containers
You can choose between two varieties - New Zealand spinach, summer and winter spinach. I recommend that you get the summer variant. They have round seeds and can grow very fast. Even though they are the summer variant, they don't like too much heat, so giving them a place with shade is the best solution.
To maintain the health of your spinach, water it regularly when it gets hot outside. Water it as soon as you notice that the top layer of soil is dry. Some good choices are Bloomsdale spinach, which has very limited vertical spread, making it ideal for containers.
New Zealand spinach is very suitable for pot planting, and Space hybrid spinach, which is highly resistant to climate.
When To Harvest And Sow
Spinach grows almost year-round, you can have it as your main salad throughout the entire year. It has a sprouting time of two weeks, and you can sow it anytime from March to September. It takes around two to three months for it to be ready for harvest.
When other vegetables have already been harvested, you can count on your trusty spinach that he will be always there ready for your meal.
Spinach likes the soil that is rich in nutrients. Having that in mind, you should add a slow-releasing fertilizer in the soil. To prevent the draining of soil, add grit or composted bark. Don't worry about cutting away the organic matter from the soil, because the fertilizer will make up for it.
A good ratio for potting mix to follow is:
It's not necessary to add the slow releasing material if you want to feed it on a regular basis.
Planting And Sowing
If you happen to choose the winter variety of spinach, you should sow it around August. Its growth will slow down at the November time, and it will speed up again around March. As for the summer varieties, the ideal time for sowing them is early spring, around March.
Sowing time for the New Zealand spinach is in May. It should be sown early, because this variant doesn't like hot weather at all, and it's very prone to bolting. You can harvest it from spring to autumn if you sow it every few weeks.
As for the pot choice, choose a pot that is around 7 inches deep. Width is more important than the depth, you can plant the spinach in few different small pots, but it's more efficient to plant them all in one single large pot.
If you decided to grow summer variety, the shade you provided might not be enough sometimes to keep it safe from bolting. So try to swap it to other pots. And remember to water it on a regular basis.
As for the winter varieties, they should be given as much light as possible. They won't need that much water, as they will need the sun.
New Zealand is not actually spinach, it comes from a totally different family, but it can be cooked the same as the regular spinach, and it tastes the same. The difference is, when you grow New Zealand spinach, you won't have to take care of it that much since it's not that prone to bolting.
There are two ways you can harvest the spinach. The first option is to cut the mature leaves and leave the young ones to grow. The second one is to let the entire plant get bushy until all the leaves are old enough. In this case, you can use it for cooking.
Young leaves are best used in salads. I prefer the first option; I like to have my spinach as young as possible. A little tip if you decide to go that way is to pick the leaves from the outside. In the summertime, you can take even an entire half of the plant.
At this time, it grows very aggressively, so it will be able to recover when you harvest that much. In the winter, don't harvest more than 1/3.
But, how do you know which leaves are ready to be harvested? In general, leave that is around 3 inches are ready for harvest, for most varieties. If you want to use it in salads, that is. If you want to cook it, you can wait until they are 6 inches.
Pull the leaves off gently, right where it connects to the main stem.
Things To Look Out For
There are some potential problems you may have with spinach. Usually, there are three most common problems you may face - bolting, blight, and mildew. We already covered how you can avoid bolting.
If you notice the leaves start turning yellow, it means the plant doesn't get enough nutrients. This problem is easily solved by feeding.
Downy mildew is also a thing to be aware of. If the upper side of the leaves is yellow, and they are grey below, cut them off. Leave only the healthy ones and give the plant enough ventilation. If they are only yellowish, then just feed the plant with a liquid micronutrient.
The symptoms of blight are discoloration and rolled leaves. The only thing you can do about this situation is to get rid of the plant and replace the soil mix completely.
To prevent bolting, make sure you have strict feeding and watering schedule. Or just add the slow releasing fertilizer in the soil. If you can't stop bolting, try the New Zealand spinach.
See? I told you growing spinach in the home environment is not demanding at all. Once you successfully harvest your spinach, you can try some of these recipes to include it in your meals.
Simply give it that minimal attention it requires, and it will reward you plenty.