Spinach is a popular vegetable to add to your spring or fall garden. It has dense nutritional value, and it’s easy to grow!
Whether you’re a new or well-seasoned gardener, don’t pass up the opportunity to grow this healthy crop.
In this post, I’ll discuss how to plant spinach indoors and outdoors. Keep reading for more!
A Quick Overview of Spinach
Why Plant It
Why should you bother with starting spinach seeds? First of all, spinach is packed with nutritional benefits. A serving of spinach contains iron, calcium, folic acid, vitamin K, vitamin A, and vitamin C.
There are also so many ways to eat it. Throw it on a salad or omelet, or add it to a favorite pasta dish, or use it as the star of the show in a baked eggs florentine!
Spinach is an easy-to-grow vegetable, which means anyone can try it. Over the course of the season, spinach will produce a ton of leaves. The more you cut, the more you’ll find.
There are many tasty varieties of spinach out there. You’ll see them grouped according to leaf type.
Savoy leaves are crinkly or curly. Semi-savoy leaves have a slight crinkle. And flat leaves are, well, flat!
Here are a few of the most popular varieties to try out:
- ‘Avenger‘ – This semi-savoy variety is a great producer, leaving you with a large window for harvesting. The dark green, oval leaves provide a crisp addition to salads.
- ‘Bloomsdale Long Standing‘ – This savoy variety has crispy, dark green leaves. It’s one of the most heat-tolerant varieties, so it may work better for zones with short growing seasons.
- ‘Sun Angel‘ – ‘Sun Angel’ is a semi-savoy variety with a dark green, oval leaf shape. It provides good disease resistance and won’t easily bolt (go to seed).
- ‘Giant Noble‘ – This heirloom savoy variety is known for its amazing size. Leaves can reach up to 25 inches in height! ‘Giant Noble’ is great for gardeners who love to can.
When to Plant Spinach
Spinach is a cool-season vegetable, so you should avoid starting spinach seeds during the hot summer. Spinach tolerates soil down to 40 to 45 degrees, so early spring and fall are prime growing times.
For a spring crop, spinach seeds need to be started six weeks before the last anticipated frost. This will give them enough chill time to produce a good harvest.
For a fall crop, start your spinach seeds six to eight weeks before your first anticipated frost.
If you plan on starting spinach seeds indoors, you can start even sooner than this. This will give you a jump start on your plants, which could mean a longer harvest.
How to Start Spinach Indoors
First, we’ll go over how to start spinach indoors. These easy-germinating vegetable seeds are a good addition to your annual seed starting routine.
What You’ll Need
If you’re new to seed starting, you’ll need to grab a few things to set up your seed starting station.
Here are the necessities:
Starting Spinach Seeds
Fill your seed starting trays with your favorite seed starting mix. Remember to use a soil-free mix to help with aeration and drainage. To help with air pockets, add a small amount of water to the mix before filling the trays.
Once your trays are filled all the way, make two indentions in each cell for seeds. You can do this by using a sharpened pencil or the sharp end of a label.
Place a seed in each indention about 1/4-inch deep. Cover the seeds lightly with seed starting mix. After planting each variety, label the cells accordingly.
Place your seedling trays under a full-spectrum grow light. You can also use a heat mat to speed up germination. Germination should occur in six to 14 days.
Once the seeds germinate, and the seedlings grow two sets of leaves, you can thin each cell to one seedling. For more information, read our blog post on When to Thin Seedlings.
Tips for Transplanting
Mature seedlings will be ready for transplant after they develop a set of true leaves (cotyledons). This will be the second set of leaves that appear after germination.
Plant spinach seedlings in your garden five to 12 inches apart. The spacing will depend on how dense you want your spinach garden to be.
But, five inches typically gives enough space for most spinach plants to reach maturity. For larger varieties like ‘Giant Noble,’ stick to 12-inch spacing.
How to Plant Spinach Seeds Outdoors
Starting spinach seeds directly in the garden is also easy to do.
Choosing the Best Location
The first thing you’ll need to do is locate the best spot to sow seeds. Spinach plants prefer full sun to partial shade. They also grow best in neutral soil with a pH between 6.5 and 7.0.
Your typical garden space or raised bed will work great.
Sowing the Seeds
Before starting spinach seeds outdoors, ensure the soil has reached 40 to 45 degrees. This will give you better germination results.
Sow spinach seeds every five to 12 inches at a depth of 1/4 to 1/2 an inch. If you plant seeds close together, you can always go back through and thin out the seedlings.
If you want a succession harvest, sow seeds again in three weeks.
Caring for Spinach
As with most vegetables, spinach prefers to stay adequately hydrated. It doesn’t like to be waterlogged and shouldn’t dry out between watering.
Drainage problems usually mean poor soil texture, which can usually be improved with compost. Or, your garden spot may be on low-lying land. Avoid planting where your land holds water when it rains.
Unusually dry soil may indicate sandy soil that needs to be amended with organic matter. Or, you may need to increase how often you water your garden.
The best way to encourage spinach growth is by incorporating compost into the soil.
Compost can be worked into the top few inches of soil before starting spinach seeds. Or, you can side-dress your vegetables with compost.
If you prefer to use a fertilizer, stick to a balanced, all-purpose fertilizer. Or, try a fertilizer that will give a nitrogen boost.
When and How to Harvest
Depending on the variety, spinach typically reaches maturity in 30 to 50 days. If the leaf appears large enough to eat, it’s safe to begin harvesting.
Use a sharp knife or garden pruners to remove spinach leaves at the soil level.
You should aim to only remove the outer leaves. Spinach grows from the center, so leaves in the middle are still young.
Once spinach begins to bolt or produce seeds, leaves may become bitter. Aim to stop harvesting before the plant reaches this point. You should also remove the whole spinach plant once it bolts.
Freshly harvested spinach will keep in your refrigerator for up to 10 to 14 days.
Wrapping Up How to Plant Spinach
Learning how to plant spinach is easy to do. And it’s the perfect vegetable to add more vitamins and nutrients to your diet. The hard part will be deciding which variety to try out first!
Now that you’ve learned how to start spinach, visit the Seed Starting page on our website. You’ll find blog posts including many helpful tips for starting and growing vegetables from seed to maturity.