This leafy vegetable is easy to grow and even easier to enjoy in a range of dishes.
Spinach is a rewarding plant in the spring vegetable garden because it’s easy to grow and incredibly nutritious. Dubbed a superfood because of the vitamins and minerals found within its leaves, spinach deserves a space in every yard. It’s perhaps best used fresh in salads, either by itself or mixed with other greens like lettuce or arugula. You can also add a few leaves to a smoothie, or if you prefer your spinach cooked, just steam or sauté it for a few minutes.
Because it's a tidy, small plant, you can tuck spinach in practically any corner of your yard or in a container. You'll get the best harvest if you plant it in full sun, but partial shade will work, too. In fact, if you live in an area with short springs, growing spinach in partial shade can help extend harvests a bit. Spinach is in the cabbage family, and like most of its relatives, it offers the best flavor if harvested when the leaves are relatively young and temperatures are cool. As it gets warmer, the leaves typically start to become bitter.
Because it thrives in cool weather and declines in summer heat, get a jump start on the season by planting spinach seeds first thing in spring, even before your area's last expected frost date. Then maximize your space by succession planting: after harvest, remove your spinach plants and replace them with your favorite heat-loving summer crops.
Spinach Care Must-Knows
For optimum harvests, plant spinach in a sunny spot that gets half-day or all-day sun, and moist but well-drained soil that's rich in organic matter. You can start the seeds in early spring and again in late summer for fall harvests. Plant it a couple of weeks before your area's last expected frost date in spring. Transplant fall crops of spinach outdoors in the ground in mid to late August.
Water spinach regularly to keep the soil moist (but not wet and soggy) because the plant doesn't tolerate drought. If your yard has clay soil, grow spinach in containers or raised beds to give it the conditions it needs to produce lush, delicious leaves. If your soil is poor and low in nutrients, spinach will do much better if you add compost into the planting hole with your seeds, then fertilize after the seeds have sprouted and have grown several sets of leaves.
You may be able to extend the spinach growing season by a couple of weeks by spreading a 2- to 3-inch-deep layer of mulch around the plants. This keeps the soil cool as days get hot. (Spinach declines once temperatures rise above 80 degrees F or so.) Plus, a layer of mulch helps the soil stay moist in dry weather and prevents weeds from growing, making care a breeze.
More Varieties of Spinach
This classic variety is quick growing and slow to bolt, making it a favorite crinkle-leaf variety. It offers deep green leaves. 48 days to harvest.
A smooth-leaf type, 'Olympia' offers excellent disease resistance and is slow to bolt. 45 days to harvest.
As you might guess from its name, this variety is extra productive—producing as much as three times more than other varieties because of its huge leaves. 35 days to harvest.
Loved because it's quick to grow and mature, you can enjoy it in less than a month if you want baby greens. It's relatively slow to bolt, making it a good choice for gardeners in warm-weather regions. 39 days to harvest.
Garden Plans For Spinach
Autumn's mild temperatures create perfect growing conditions for fall vegetables like kale and carrots. Here's how to enjoy these late-season treats by planting some fall garden vegetables.
Grow a 4x12-foot version of the White House Kitchen Garden (designed by Better Homes and Gardens garden editors) on your own south (or east or west) lawn. All you need is a spot that gets six or more hours of sunshine each day.