Spinach is your ultimate cool-season crop; it bolts fast once it encounters hot weather, which is anything above 75 degrees, or even if the days get too lengthy. However, it is great for spring, autumn and even winter in mild climates. And there are some varieties that are bolt-resistant.
There are generally three types of spinach: the savoyed (crinkly) and semisavoyed types as well as also the flat-leaf types. Baby spinach is flat-leaf lettuce harvested just three or four weeks following the seedlings appear.
More: How to grow cool-season veggies
When to plant: Sow seeds around two months before the final frost date, then keep sowing every three weeks until just past the last freeze date. In autumn, sow seeds a month to six weeks before the first frost date; continue throughout winter at mild-winter climates.
Days to maturity: 40 to 150
Light requirement: Full sun to light shade, particularly if afternoons will probably be somewhat hot
Water requirement: Provide consistent water but do not overwater
Favorites: Bloomsdale Longstanding, Indian Summer, Marathon, Oriental, Red Cardinal, Space, Tyee
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Planting and care: Soil — at the ground or in a pot, as shown here — must be well drained and well amended. Sow seeds a half inch deep and an inch apart. Thin to 3 to 4 inches apart when seedlings appear (the very best and most nutritious way to thin is to pick the leaves off and eat them). Set transplants for this spacing too. Keep the soil continuously most but not overly wet, and make certain to weed carefully round the plants. Aphids, cabbage worms and leaf miners are the most annoying pests.
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Harvest: Either pick off leaves as you need them harvest the whole plant. If you will need the whole plant but do not wish to pull it out, cut off leaves around an inch above the soil; the plant will regrow.
More: How to Grow Cool-Season Vegetables