Spinach produces abundant leafy green leaves, and it thrives in cooler weather.
Its dark green leaves are high in vitamins A and C, as well as iron, thiamin and potassium. A huge number of varieties are available, producing different shapes and textures of leaves.
Here’s our easy guide to growing this nutritious and delicious food!
When to plant Spinach and Chard
Spinach is sown either in the spring for harvesting over the summer, or in the autumn for a crop through the winter; chard is sown in the spring for summer picking. Plant out in rows in your vegetable garden, or in containers.
The location should be either in full sun or slight shade, and the soil should be moisture retentive though free draining.
How to plant Spinach and Chard
Before you sow, dig over the soil to remove any large stones and weeds. Mix in plenty of well-rotted organic matter, such as manure. For chard, create a drill 2 to 3 cm in depth and plant the seeds 8 cm apart with rows at least 35 cm from each other. For spinach, create a drill 1 cm in depth and plant the seeds 3 cm apart with rows at least 30 cm from each other. To grow in succession, plant out a new row every three weeks.
To plant out spinach plug plants, make an individual hole for each plant and position in place. Replace soil and gently firm in. Water thoroughly throughout the season, and weed regularly. Use a fertiliser high in nitrogen every two weeks.
Harvesting Spinach and Chard
The plants will be yielding leaves which are ready to pick by around week 12. Cut leaves from the outside of the plant – be careful as you do not want to damage or cut the roots. Pick frequently, and more new leaves will grow.
When storing leaves of spinach, don’t place these near fruits which give off ethylene gas – including apples, melons, bananas or tomatoes. You can also freeze spinach – make sure the leaves are dry after being washed, then freeze in a resealable freezer bag.
Through the year
When the leaves have died back, put down compost surrounding your rhubarb plants. There are few diseases to watch out for during the year – as long as the soil is well-drained, the crowns should not succumb to rot. If they do you will notice a fungus at the base of the stalks causing them to turn brown and soft.
Remove the plant and destroy it straight away. Established rhubarb plants need to be divided or split into three or four separate crowns roughly every five years. This should be done during winter dormancy, using a spade.
When doing this, ensure that each new crown has a bud which will shoot in the coming growing season.
Watch your plants for aphids – spray these off as soon as spotted. Ward off fungal diseases by watering earlier in the day so that the leaves are dry in the cooler evening.