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Organic Gardening:

How to grow organic Spinach


Popeye's favourite vegetable


Spinacea oleracea

Family: Chenopodiaceae (Group 1)

We all know that Popeye loves spinach, and cooked correctly, it really is a delectable vegetable, and an essential ingredient in many curries (shown on menus as 'Sag'). Organic spinach is so easy to grow, it's almost 'sow and forget'. Make a little space on your plot today for this neglected vegetable.

Traditional varieties are divided into Summer and Winter spinach, but many modern varieties are dual purpose. Perpetual spinach is a completely different crop, also known as leaf beet. There is also New Zealand spinach, again totally unrelated, but good for use in warmer areas, where bolting is prevalent.


Rich, well-manured soil is ideal, but any reasonable soil will do. Ideal pH is 7. Lime acid soil. The ideal place for Summer spinach is between rows of tall growing vegetables. This is because it bolts if it gets too much sun, so the shading is helpful.

Recommended cultivars (all bolt-resistant)
Summer: Medania (mildew resistant), Norvak
Winter: Broadleaved prickly, Longstanding prickly, Monnopa (low oxalic acid)
Dual-purpose: Sigmaleaf, Dominant

Dig deeply in Autumn. Fertilise two weeks before sowing with Growmore 100% organic or blood, fish and bone (wear gloves).

Sow Summer spinach successionally every three weeks from late February to end May, Winter spinach in August and again in September. Protect with cloches in cold parts of the year. Sow 25mm (1") deep in 30cm (12") rows and thin as soon as possible, Summer spinach to 15cm (6") and Winter spinach to 23cm (9").

Water heavily in dry weather.

Harvest Summer spinach from end May to November, winter spinach from October to April. Young leaves can be taken at 5-10cm (2-4"). Up to half the leaves of Summer types can be taken, Winter spinach must be picked much more sparingly. Take care not to disturb the roots.

Cloche or cover Winter spinach with straw in late Autumn in cold areas. A late sowing can be made in a cold greenhouse or polytunnel to give excellent Winter pickings.

Pests and Diseases

Downy mildew may occur, usually due to poor drainage and overcrowding. Birds are supposed to be a serious problem, attacking plants both at the seedling stage and when plants are mature, although in my experience they prefer other crops, such as onions and runner beans.

If you're interested in healthy food, you may also be interested in our sister site, The Health Site, Your Online Health Channel.

Article ©2004 Frann Leach. All rights reserved.

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