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How To Grow Spinach and Chard

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 and Where to Plant
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
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.

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
Thin seedlings out once they’re established – at roughly 2 to 3 cm tall. The plants need space to grow, so thin to a gap of 25 cm between spinach plants, 40 cm between spinach beet plants and 30 cm between chard plants.

Handy Tips
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.

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