Remember Popeye the sailor man who grows muscles instantly after eating a can of spinach? Such is the power of this wonderful leafy vegetable. Grow Spinach at ease on your terrace or in the backyard without worrying much about sunlight, rain or chilly winter. Except for sizzling summers, the crop can be grown all through the year in fertile soils. The leaves are packed with iron, calcium, Vitamins A, B and C and loads of anti-oxidants. If you are a beginner, growing spinach is the best ways to kick start your gardening hobby.
Season: Though spinach is a cool season crop, it can thrive all year round provided the summer temperature isn’t too high. During hot days, you can help the leaves by putting them in shade where they are not hit by direct sunlight.
Location Constraints: Spinach seeds germinate very easily. If the soil bed is rich in organic matter, you need not use any other fertiliser. Just ensure that the land is well drained.
Sunlight: Light sunshine for 6 to 8hrs everyday is enough for healthy spinach leaves. More sunlight will definitely damage them. If you are planting the crop in summers make sure spinach stays in shade when the heat is at its highest.
Spacing: Make ½ inch holes in the land for sowing spinach seeds. Fully grown spinach plants become very bushy. It is advisable that you plant the seeds two to three inches apart so that the plants do not fight for space underground and above.
Growth: With the right amount of sunlight, water and fertile soil, spinach grows in a span of 25 to 30days. The leaves grow up to a length of two to three inches and are very tender.
Height and Spreading: The plants aren’t usually very tall and end up growing only a few inches high. But the leaves become very bushy and encroach upon other plants if poorly maintained.
Temperature: About 30degrees Celsius is the right temperature for spinach seeds to germinate and grow well. If the daytime heat crosses 35degress, you can move the plants to a shady place or use a cover to protect the leaves.
Watering: Water spinach regularly to promote the growth of healthy leaves. Depending upon the weather conditions, you can water the plants thrice every week. Inadequate water can give rise to stunted plants. Keeping a check on the drainage system of the soil will help you take better decisions about watering the spinach crop.
Nutrient Management: Unlike many other seeds and plants, spinach plants do very well with good organic soil. Manure might just be more than enough for the seedlings. But if you feel the plants aren’t growing as per your expectations, you can use a nitrogen rich organic fertiliser. Spinach plants require only nitrogenous fertilisers to thrive.
Pest Management: Since spinach plants grow very quickly, the chances of pest infestation are less. Due to the soil’s poor water absorption, the leaves may catch mildew and wither away. There are chances of rot engulfing the crop especially when the weather is too warm. If the entire crop appears lifeless, consider removing the plants, fumigating the soil and replanting the seeds.
Harvesting of spinach: Spinach plants are ready for harvest after 25 to 30days. Pick fully grown leaves first and leave the tender ones to grow for some more time. Always pluck the leaves at their bottom and store them at room temperature. You can continue watering and fertilising the crop until you see fresh bunch of leaves popping up.
Uses and health benefits: Though many kids and adults dislike spinach, this is one leafy vegetable that is full of natural iron, calcium and vitamins. People suffering from a low blood count must make spinach a regular part of their meal. The rich fibre content of the leaves helps in digestion and smooth bowel movements.
Additional Information: Many people prefer sowing spinach seeds in containers or pots and transfer them to a garden after they just start growing. That can be a bad idea because spinach plants are extremely tender and the roots may break easily while transplanting. Growing them directly is always advisable.
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