How long does it take to grow spinach from seed? With this step-by-step tutorial on growing and harvesting spinach, we will show you how.
I absolutely love growing spinach, and many new gardeners are curious about how to take the dive into planting, growing, and harvesting spinach successfully.
Luckily, it’s an easy plant to grow and very low maintenance. The most important thing to keep in mind when starting spinach seeds is timing.
Read on to find out the secret to a fantastic spinach harvest.
Table of Contents
- 1 A Little Bit About Spinach
- 2 How to Grow Spinach From Seed
- 3 Caring for Your Crops and Growing Tips
- 4 How to Harvest Spinach Without Killing the Plant
- 5 Final Words
A Little Bit About Spinach
Spinach is a nutrient-rich plant that can be eaten in different ways. Some people eat it raw while others cook it. Some people even juice it!
I personally love a nice spinach salad or spinach dip! It’s even better when it’s homegrown, ORGANICALLY!
Organically grown crops are always the best as they’re full of nutrients from your ground and not tainted by chemicals.
Storing is simple, as well. Spinach freezes nicely, you can dry it, and you can even can it. Preparation and flavors all vary by seed.
My favorite spinach seeds to use is from the multi-pack of seeds from Gardeners Basics.
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How to Grow Spinach From Seed
Growing spinach from seed is simple if you time it right. The key to success is actually to start growing in the colder months.
This may sound crazy as most plants require warm temperatures to start.
However, many new gardeners often make the mistake of following this trend with spinach leaves, and by the time they try to plant them, it’s too late, and they die.
Spinach is super sensitive to heat. They’ll flower as soon as they get a sign of warm weather. Then, if you plant the seeds too late, the spinach seeds won’t germinate, and then they won’t grow. It gets worse.
Spinach doesn’t enjoy being transplanted, so the best way to counteract this is to plant it directly where you want it to grow in the garden.
The nice thing about this is you don’t have to go through the hassle of growing them indoors and transplanting them into the garden. This saves money and time! It’s part of why I love this crop so much.
Where to Plant Your Spinach
Growing Spinach doesn’t need a lot of space. This is super convenient: plant them literally anywhere.
If you live in a more urban environment with a small space to grow in or on a large property with plenty of space, you can grow spinach just the same.
I like to grow them in out-of-the-way spaces so that way the pickier plants can have prime real estate in my garden first. They also grow nice mixed in with other crops such as in the pumpkin or bean patch.
Spinach crops will be done early in the summer, so it’s ok to plant them with squash, tomatoes, or other warmth-loving plants.
So, as soon as it’s time for them to grow, the spinach will be done, and the ground will be primed for them to start absorbing nutrients.
This crop can be grown in full sun or partial shade, but it loves protection from the hard sun. I like to grow them in areas with partial shade.
You can also grow it in a pot or mixed containers with similar greens if you want.
As for soil, spinach isn’t picky. It’ll grow anywhere it can get some nutrients. I like to grow my spinach in moist, well-drained soil with plenty of organic material.
The best thing to do is make your soil nutrient-rich first, then plant your seeds in it. You can also add some organic granular fertilizer to it or use compost.
When to Start Your Spinach Seeds
Because spinach prefers the cold, plant the seeds about 4-6 weeks before your last frost date or as soon as your soil is workable during early spring.
It grows extremely fast, so you don’t need to plan early. You could also plant them in late summer if you want to harvest them in the fall.
The frosts won’t kill off these plants, but a heatwave will. So, only start them when you’re sure the weather won’t be returning to the high 80s and 90s.
One really cool thing about this tendency is that you can have fresh spinach in the winter! How cool is that?!
How to Plant Spinach Seedlings
Always look at your seed packets for instructions first on planting different spinach varieties. Many will say the same thing, but it’s better to be safe than sorry.
Here are the basic steps that can be followed for all spinach!
Start by loosening up the soil. You can use a screen and shovel the soil into it over your bed to create light and airy soil.
Mix in any soil amendments or fertilizer beforehand. You’ll have the best soil if you do this well in advance with compost and prepare it for your spinach.
Plant the seeds about 2” apart or more if you don’t want to thin them. The closer you plant them, the more thinning you’re going to have to do once they get bigger.
The advantage of this is that you can select the strongest crops and pick off the weak ones to get the most nutrients.
- Plant spinach seeds about half an inch deep and cover them with soil.
- Press the soil down over the seeds, but don’t compact it too tightly around them.
- Water the soil until it’s moist but not soggy. Mold will grow if it’s too wet, plus it essentially drowns them.
Caring for Your Crops and Growing Tips
Under cool conditions, spinach plants really don’t need much maintenance at all. They have a short growing season too, so you won’t have to look after them for long.
However, to ensure the best harvest, there are some basic tips for spinach care.
Time to Grow Spinach
When you plant your spinach directly into the soil, they germinate quickly, and it takes about 5-9 days for this process to occur.
One suggestion is to start your gardening in grow bags. They are compact, and you can move them anywhere in your backyard.
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Stagger their planting times through the spring for a longer harvest. They won’t take long to grow, so if you plant one batch every week, you’ll have consecutive harvests for weeks.
How to Water Spinach
Spinach plants love water, but they don’t want soggy soil. Use fast-draining soil, but never allow it to dry out completely. Part of the reason why these plants are so low maintenance is that they grow during wet seasons.
In the winter, they have snow. In the spring, they have rain. They’ll generally also have water around. I don’t think I’ve ever watered my spinach plants.
Fertilizer Requirements for Growing Spinach
Spinach plants can eat a lot, and they’ll grow better and faster when you give them more food in the form of fertilizers.
However, don’t use chemical fertilizers! Not only are they bad for your health, but they contaminate your soil and ruin your other plants. Stick with organic fertilizer or compost.
You can use a liquid fertilizer or a granular one. Start feeding them the liquid fertilizer when the spinach seedlings start growing their first true leaves. My favorite fertilizer for vegetables is from Miracle-Gro – it simply works.
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Organic compost fertilizer is a personal favorite, such as liquid compost tea, which is extremely nutrient-rich. Compost tea bags work nicely as well! Spinach seeds appreciate fish emulsion and liquid kelp. I’ve used fish emulsion a lot, and my spinach turns out strong and healthy with it.
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Spacing Your Spinach Plants
Spacing is pretty important. They don’t need a lot of room; however, you can run into some serious problems when they become overcrowded.
They do need room for light and nutrients, so when you overcrowd them, they have to compete for resources that produce some fragile plants and other really strong ones instead of a consistent crop.
As soon as your spinach seedlings grow their true leaves, look at them and pick out the weak ones so that they are about 4” – 6” apart. You’ll want to keep the stronger ones that are leftover.
Cut the plants at the base. Don’t pull them out. If you pull them out, you’ll disrupt the roots of the healthy plants around them.
How to Harvest Spinach Without Killing the Plant
Spinach is a vegetable that you can harvest many times, which is awesome! As long as the plant hasn’t started bolting, you’re free to harvest from it!
All you have to do is pinch off the biggest leaves and leave on the smaller leaves so they can grow and you can use them. Just don’t let them get too old, or they become hard and bitter.
Too young, and you may damage the plant, so don’t pick them small.
Once your plant starts to bolt, you can pick the entire plant clean. Catch it right away, or you may have a nasty surprise when you get an old bitter spinach leaf. Basically, if you see flowers, you’ve let them sit too long. Please don’t eat it.
As soon as you’ve picked your spinach, go ahead and eat them like that or cook them. You can even dry them or freeze them for longer storage.
The key to spinach success is to grow as much as you need over the winter, freeze or dry it, then have it year-round.
Growing spinach doesn’t have to be a hard process. If you time it right, grow them where they have space for nutrients and plenty of sunlight. Don’t forget to feed them lots of nutrients; you’ll have an abundance of spinach to eat all year!
Many gardeners make the mistake of starting the seeds way too late and get a nasty surprise when they see their spinach plants bolt right away, and the leaves turn bitter.
Follow these tips to have yourself a fantastic spinach harvest!
Lindsey Hyland grew up in Arizona where she studied at the University of Arizona’s Controlled Environment Agriculture Center. She continued her gardening education by working on organic farms in both rural and urban settings. She started UrbanOrganicYield.com to share gardening tips and tactics. She’s happy to talk about succulents and houseplants or vegetables and herbs – or just about anything in a backyard garden or hydroponics garden.