Spinach is a cool weather crop that doesn’t grow well in hot summer months when the days are long. The best temperature for growing spinach is between 16ºC and 24ºC. It is relatively easy to grow in cool climates and it is packed with nutrients such as iron, protein, vitamin A and chlorophyll. Spinach does best when growing in moist, nitrogen-rich soil. Spinach plants form a deep taproot; for best growth, loosen the soil at least 1 foot deep before planting.Germination of spinach seeds can take anything between a week and 2 weeks.
How to begin growing spinach:
Step 1: Loosen your soil by digging down deeply to around 30cm depth as this is how far the plants tap root can develop. Check the soils PH and if necessary add lime.
Step 2: Work some organic compost or manure into the soil to help provide the necessary nutrients for growth. Apply fertilizer, manure or compost. If you are using fertilizer, use one handful for every square metre of soil or Four hands of kraal manure or compost for every square metre of soil. Because of the benefit of organic matter cover crops and green manure crops are beneficial prior to planting spinach.
Step 3: Use a garden fork to mix soil and fertilizer, manure or compost thoroughly, and then even out using a rake.
Step 4: Put the seed or seedlings into the ground, working according to the instructions on the seed packet or the nursery recommendations.
Step 5: Water the plants regularly. Use flood irrigation, a sprinkler, a watering can, a hosepipe or drip irrigation.
Step 6: For a better crop, apply a top dressing about five weeks later as spinach needs a lot of nitrogen for good quality, broad leaves. For this top dressing, use either chicken manure or LAN applied between the rows and work it in lightly. Remember to remove weeds regularly.
Step 7: Spinach is ready to harvest at about 40-50 days after planting. The spinach leaves can be harvested whenever they look big enough and ready for your salads etc. Make sure to start picking leaves on the outside of the plant, i.e only the outer (older) leaves with a sharp knife about 30mm to 50mm above ground level. Don’t damage the new leaves .Alternatively you can harvest the whole plant. If the leaves are not going to be used immediately, bunch them and put them in water to keep them fresh for longer.
Step 8: Don’t plant spinach on the same plot over and over, because this causes spinach pests and diseases to build up in the soil. Rotate the crop with other vegetables such as pumpkins, beans, peas, lettuce, tomatoes, potatoes and cabbage.