How to Grow Spinach – A Beginner’s Guide

Are you new to gardening and want to grow some spinach? This guide will teach you how to grow spinach!

Spinach is a green leafy vegetable that can be eaten raw or cooked.

It makes great salads, sandwiches, and soups. Growing spinach is easy and can be done in most climates with plenty of sunlight.

how to grow spinach from seeds

What is Spinach?

Spinach (spinacia oleracea) is a leafy green vegetable that has been around for centuries.

Some people even believe it to be the “most nutritious of all vegetables.”

It’s also one of the most versatile, making it perfect for salads, sandwiches, and soups.

Spinach originated in ancient Persia (modern-day Iran).

The Persians called spinach “the mother of health” because it was believed to be so nutritive.

When Alexander the Great came across this food he brought back some seeds to Greece where they soon became popular among the Greeks.

In fact, Aristotle himself said that “spinach generates blood and makes other parts strong.”

The Romans loved their spinach too!

They used them in many dishes including omelets, sauce, and soups.

But spinach didn’t make its way to North America until the early 1800s, where it was grown in New England gardens by colonists.

Today spinach is one of the most popular leafy greens around!

It’s also considered a superfood for being full of protein, calcium, iron, omega-three fatty acids, vitamin A, fiber and more.

While you plant spinach plants and eat it like other lettuce’s, it actually belongs to the chenopod or amaranth family.

It’s more closely related to beets and swiss chard (chenopod family) and grains such as amaranth and quinoa (amaranth family).

Within the “spinach” family, there are different varieties that can be broken up into three categories: savoy, semi-savoy, and flat-leafed.

Savoy and semi-savoy varieties have curly and crinkly leaves, where the flat-leafed variety is the one that’s most commonly found in the grocery store.

a bowl full of spinach grown from seed

Nutritional Value of Spinach

Spinach is a nutritional powerhouse. It contains water-soluble AND fat-soluble vitamins, minerals, and phytonutrients. It’s an incredible source of magnesium, iron, vitamins A, B, Folate and vitamin K.

As far as whole foods go, spinach is the number one source of magnesium and iron. The more research that is being done, the more we’re understanding the importance of magnesium.

It’s estimated that 80% of adults are deficient in magnesium!

In addition to being a nutritional powerhouse, spinach also contains anti-inflammatory phytonutrients.

The high amount of chlorophyll (giving it it’s dark color) helps to regulate blood sugar and hunger.

One cup of raw spinach contains:

Calories6.9
Carbs1.1g
Total Omega-3 fatty acids41.4mg
Total Omega-6 fatty acids7.8mg
Protein.9g
Vitamin A56% Daily Recommended Value (DRV)
Vitamin C14%
Vitamin K181%
Folate15%
Manganese13%
Source: Self Nutrition Data
close up of a bunch of spinach

How to Grow Spinach

When should you plant spinach seeds? Well, it depends on where you live.

In the early Spring, plan to direct sow seeds as soon as your garden soil can be worked. Spinach requires 6 weeks of cool weather and can tolerate a light frost.

So plant out roughly 6 weeks before your last frost date.

It will grow well when daytime temperatures are between 40 and 65 degrees Fahrenheit (4-18 Celsius).

The soil temperature must also be cool for good growth; ideally 50-60 degrees F (10-15 C).

Spinach does not tolerate hot weather well, and will begin to bolt (get leggy and put out flowers) as soon as days get longer than 14 hours of sunlight or temps are above 75 degrees.

The best way to lengthen your growing season into late summer is by adding a shade over your spinach. Or plant them in an area that will avoid full sun such as partial shade.

If you live in an area with cooler Falls and Winters, you can plant a second Fall crop roughly 6-8 weeks before your first frost or when daytime highs are regularly under 75 degrees.

If you’re growing your spinach in long rows in a market garden style, dig a shallow trough down your row and sprinkle your seeds along it.

Cover your seeds, tamp down and water well for the first few weeks.

As they begin to appear, thin seedlings to allow 3-5 inches of space between plants. But don’t throw them out! This is baby spinach! Add the tender leaves you thin out to your salad!

If you want to get a head start on growing spinach, you can start them indoors and transplant roughly 6 weeks before your last frost or as soon as your spinach seedlings have 4 true leaves.

Spinach spacing for square foot gardening

Tips for Growing the Best Spinach

  • Successful spinach growing requires a lot of water. But plan to water your spinach at the base of the plants to avoid fungal diseases.
  • Spinach needs at least 10 hours of sun per day to grow well.
  • Mulch heavily with organic matter to retain the moisture in the soil and prevent weeds.
  • Put the seeds in a pot of moist soil and cover with about 1/2 inch (1 cm) of soil
  • Water well until seedlings appear
  • Plant outside when plants are 2 inches tall (5 cm)
  • Keep them watered regularly
  • If your spinach doesn’t seem to be growing well you can always add a liquid fertilizer such as a fish emulsion
spinach plant seedling

FAQs for Growing Spinach

What type of spinach seeds should you plant?

There isn’t one best type of spinach seed you can plant. There are three subclasses of spinach plants, including savoy types, semi-savoy types, and smooth types.

Spinach seeds are available in these classes to help farmers or people who garden decide which kind is right for their conditions.

Savoy

Savoys have rough leaves that are curled tightly around the stem near the ground.

They tend to do better in colder climates because they retain nutrients for longer periods of time when the temperature drops below 45° F (7° C).

This can make them tougher to grow during warmer times of year if there’s not enough rain or moisture present because the vines will stay tucked close against the soil as a form of protection from drying out.

Semi-Savoy

These types of spinach plants are more common than savoys, and they’re also better suited to warmer climates because their leaves aren’t as tightly wrapped around the stem, which allows them to catch more water when there’s not a lot of rain or moisture present in the soil.

Since semi-savoys don’t store nutrients as long, they’re more likely to wilt when the temperature is hot but also less likely than savoys to suffer from nutrient depletion in colder regions.

Smooth

These types of spinach plants are considered most common because their spinach leaves don’t have any wrinkles or deep folds on them at all.

They can be grown with little to no risk of throwing up spinach bolts when the weather is mild, but they also require more water to grow well.

How much space should a package of spinach plant take up?

Since one seed packet can contain 100-300 seeds, you’ll likely have way more seeds than you’ll need in a season.

If you’re growing a market-style garden (a garden with vegetable in long rows) you’ll space your spinach plants 8-12 inches between plants and 22-30 inches between rows.

This will allow for enough of a gap for the air to circulate around the whole plant and help prevent disease issues caused by excess moisture.

If you’re growing spinach in a square-foot garden (check out my complete guide to square foot gardening), each square is 12 inches by 12 inches. You can plant a total of 9 spinach plants in each square foot area.

If you’re buying starts, however, you can expect that one flat of 10 spinach seedlings will produce between 3 pounds and 16 pounds of leaves over the course of a single year depending on how it is cared for.

So given that information, an 8×8 foot garden should be able to grow up to 64 pounds of fresh produce every year if all the available space where planted.

Similarly, a raised bed would let you harvest upwards to 72 pounds if 5 rows are planted.

When should I plant spinach?

Planting early in the spring is best, however you can still grow it later on if necessary!

It’s important to note that varieties may mature at different rates depending on when they are planted so keep an eye out for your plants and harvest them once they reach maturity – usually around 50 days after germinating.

To extend your Fall crop and protect your young plants from cold weather you can always plant seeds in a cold frame.

Is spinach easy to grow?

Yes! Very! Simply plant the seeds as early in the Spring as your soil can be worked, or in containers, or in the Fall after the hottest days are over.

Will spinach grow back after cutting?

Yes! Spinach is my favorite cut-and-come-again plant! Just make sure to harvest the larger leaves and leave enough leaves on the plant to allow for photosynthesis to keep the plant growing and healthy.

Large spinach leaves

My Favorite Heirloom Spinach Varieties

– Bloomsdale Spinach

– Deveiner

– Golden Baby Rotundifolia

– Giant Winter Spinach

– Malabar Spinach

If you’re growing Spinach this year, here’s a quick cheat sheet of what you need to know:

Soil pH

6.0-6.5

Sunlight

4-6 hours

Water

1 inch per week

Planting Time

Direct sow 4-6 weeks before last frost

Compatible With

Cabbage, Celery, Onions, Peppers, Tomatoes

Avoid Planting With

None

Spacing

Space rows 12 inches apart

Maintenance

Keep cool in heat and keep an eye out for downy mildew

Harvesting Fruit

35-45 days

Saving The Seeds

Let a few of your best plants bolt and go to seed. Once plants are completely brown, pull up entire plant and let hang in a cool, dry place. Strip the seeds in an upward motion into a paper bag.

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