Family:Chenopodiaceae    Genus and Species: Spinacia oleracea


Spinach is a hardy annual. A cool weather plant that can grow much of the year in the Sacramento. If mulched well, it can survive severe frosts in the winter, but will not tolerate our hot summers. A substitute for spinach in the summer heat would be to grow New Zealand spinach.

Spinach is grown as a leafy green and eaten raw in salads. Spinach is rich in vitamins and minerals, especially vitamin A, calcium, phosphorus, iron and potassium. Spinach also has high levels of protein. Cultivation of spinach began during the Greek and Roman civilizations. Spinach seeds store for 5 years under good conditions.

Sow spinach seed in partial shade in late summer, fall, temperate winter and early spring. Seed germinates in soil temperatures


between 50-75°F, in 6-12 days. Soil temperatures above 85°F cause seed to go dormant, so start seeds inside. Enrich soil with compost. Plant seed about 2-3 inches apart and thin to 6-12” apart, depending on size of variety planted. Successive crops can be sown 2 weeks apart between mature plantings.

Spinach grows best in organically rich soil amended with an abundance of compost. It prefers 50-60°F temperatures and likes damp conditions. Allow soil surface to dry between waterings. Provide partial shade during warmer temperatures; light shade cloths (cutting out 40-60% of the sun) can be useful in extending the season. Mulch to maintain constant moisture and deter weeds.

Pick mature leaves or whole plant before it goes to seed. Check for slugs and snails. Stale beer in saucers will attract them and they will drown. Late night slug and snail hunts after planting and during wet seasons can keep damage to a minimum.

Spinach is rich in saponin, so is a useful pre-crop. Spinach does well planted with strawberries.

Plant Notes - Spinach 2007 - Sue Gage Jennings, Some Rights Reserved
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