Problems Associated with Growing Spinach

Growing Spinach can be simple if you know what you are doing and avoid common pitfalls. Here in this article, we will go through some common errors novice Spinach growers tend to make. Then, we will go through some of the challenges of growing Spinach and how to solve them.

Spinach is hugely popular because of its taste and versatility. You can consume it fresh, steamed, or combined with your favorite pasta dish.

Growing your Spinach at home has become a popular garden trend because of the herb’s resilience to prevailing weather conditions and the ease at which it can be grown. 

Not only is it relatively easy to grow, but it also has many health benefits.The leafy green contains vitamins A and C and is low in fat and sugar. It is also a good source of iron for your blood.

basil leaves and avocado on sliced bread on white ceramic plate
Spinach goes with anything. Photo by Lisa Fotios on Pexels.com

Growing Spinach In The Best Way Possible

We know Spinach has a great taste and provides several beneficial nutrients to your body, but how does it grow best?

Here we will go through the steps to providing the best conditions for this popular herb.

Growing Spinach In Cold Places

Spinach grows better in a cool environment. Therefore, it prefers cold weather for proper growth. 

However, although it is a green herb that likes the cold, that doesn’t mean it loves sub-zero temperatures. Anything under 75°F is ideal and is typical of the temperatures we experience in Spring or Fall.

Spinach can even tolerate temperatures under 25°F. So don’t worry about it on those cold frosty mornings.

cold garden with frost and sunrise
Spinach loves the cold. Credit: times.co.uk

Soil Temperature For Seed Germination

When it comes to temperature for seed germination, you may think that they require a warm greenhouse to give them the best start. But these hardy plants can take on the coldest of climates right from the start.

The optimum temperatures for seed germination are between 60°F-70°F degrees. Although Spinach seeds are remarkably resilient to the cold weather, try not to expose them to temperatures below 40°F at this early stage as they will bolt at anything temperature below this.

However, when the seeds have germinated and established themselves in the garden, they can withstand temperatures as low as 20 degrees, which tells you all you need to know about this herb’s resilience to the cold.

top view photo of potted plants
Sprouting Spinach. Photo by Nothing Ahead on Pexels.com

Optimum Air Temperatures Required

Not even cold air will inhibit the growth of this remarkably resilient plant. Spinach not only can grow in low soil temperatures, but even if the air temperatures are below 25°F, it will survive and prosper.

Even if covered in snow, they will continue to grow. As you can probably guess, Spinach will survive during most Winter seasons.

However, getting the temperature right is the number one mistake of novice Spinach growers. They treat Spinach as any other herb that needs to be grown in warmer seasons. 

While Spinach likes to be in full sun and grows in hot weather, it will affect its taste, making it bitter and harsh.

Best Time To Plant Spinach

As we have already seen, Spinach grows well during cold weather. But as a first-time gardener, you might think of planting Spinach just like the other Spring crops. Most herbs are typically planted after or just before the last frost date. 

Unfortunately, it is a rookie mistake to plant Spinach during this time, but don’t worry if you do; the situation is salvageable. 

If you have planted Spinach seeds in the Spring, you will have to monitor the soil temperatures carefully to ensure that they are between 60°F-70°F. Anything else will result in a poor germination rate. You will need to be patient as germination of the seeds at this time can take up to three weeks.

However, the best time to plant your Spinach seeds will be a few months before Spring, ideally between 4-8 weeks before the last frost date. The earlier and colder period will result in a better germination rate, and your Spinach tastes much better. If you are unsure about the best time to sow your seeds, monitor the temperature of the soil with a soil temperature gauge. These accurate gauges will leave no room for error when it comes to your Spinach crops.

woman putting plants on pots
Try not to plant your Spinach in Spring. Photo by Karolina Grabowska on Pexels.com

Planting Spinach In The Fall

We have seen that the best time to grow Spinach is 4-8 weeks before the last frost date. Planting them at this time gives the Spinach the best conditions to germinate and plenty of sun in the Spring months, giving them a fresh taste.

But always bear in mind with Spinach; the cooler, the better.

Taking this into account, you can even sow your seeds at the start of Fall. However, make sure the soil temperatures are in the correct range with a temperature gauge. If you experience an Indian Summer, the climate may be too warm for the seeds to germinate.  

Anything over 70°F and you are asking for miracles to happen as the germination rate will be poor.

You can plant Spinach seeds approximately 4-6 weeks before the average first frost date. Then, if the soil temperatures are still warm, you can sow more seeds to improve the chance of germination as the temperatures gradually decrease. 

Climate is such an essential factor in growing Spinach, and you must constantly monitor it.

wooden signage with a word spinach
Plant Spinach in the cold and you produce lots of it. Photo by Kindel Media on Pexels.com

What Is Bolting?

Bolting is the process whereby a plant starts to run to seed prematurely. When a plant experiences stress from its environment, usually from excessive heat or cold, before it perishes, it uses its last remaining energy to create seeds that will spread and create more.

The process uses a considerable amount of energy and is a big reason gardeners should deadhead as often as possible if they want blooming flowers.

Spinach plants go through bolting due to high amounts of stress. Stress can be a result of several factors. These include

  • Exposure to too much heat
  • Poorly drained soil
  • Lack of sunlight. 

Other plants such as cilantro and lettuce tend to be bitter and inedible whenever they start to bolt. However, Spinach would still taste okay, but it won’t be your best crop. Therefore, you should try to harvest as much as possible before the Spinach plant bolts.

spinach in the garden

Preventing Bolting In Spinach

As we have seen, bolting takes a lot of plant energy. So here are some of the best ways to stop it.

  • Ensuring a consistent water supply
  • Covering plants with a shade cloth during early Fall or late Spring
  • Mulching to avoid excessive evaporation
  • Opting for bolt-resistant varieties

Too much heat is well known to cause bolting in Spinach plants. Therefore, you can use a shade cloth to keep them cool.

Another cause is lack of water. As soil temperatures rise, there is a higher rate of evaporation from the moisture in the soil. As a result, the plants will lack easy access to water, so you should have a consistent watering schedule for Spinach in hot and dry weather conditions.

If you can’t have a consistent watering schedule, you can add a mulch layer to lower the evaporation rate. Mulch can be anything from a layer of topsoil to a layer of dead, dried leaves. This organic material will improve the quality of the soil while locking in moisture.

All the above ways help to prevent bolting. But the best way to avoid bolting is to ensure that your plant is at the right time. Plant them earlier in the Spring or later in the Fall for the best results.

Soil Conditions

We have discussed temperatures a lot in this article as it is the most important thing to consider when growing Spinach. However, other soil conditions play a significant role in growing Spinach.

Spinach loves soil rich in organic matter, has the right moisture content, and is well-drained. However, this leafy plant is sensitive to acidic soil, so it is best to plant them in soil with a pH that is not lower than 6.0. Try to keep the soil pH around 7 to 7.5. Conduct a soil test to know the soil’s pH level in your garden. 

If your garden soil is too acidic, you can make it more alkaline by adding 1 tbsp of baking soda to a gallon of water before pouring it on your soil.

Another factor to consider is the quality of soil is its texture. For example, Spinach has a taproot, a large central root that sprouts many other roots. Therefore it is essential to ensure that the soil is loose. You are assured healthier plants if you provide them with deep loose soil.

If you have compacted or rocky soil that is not the ideal pH for growing Spinach, try building a raised bed. Raised beds are perfect because they allow you to control the soil quality and the amount of sun the Spinach will get.

Planting Spinach

Avoid planting Spinach plants close to each other. If they are too close to one another, they will have to compete to get sufficient space and nutrients. If they are competing against each other, this will result in poor-tasting crops.

Give them a minimum space of 4 inches between them in order for them to have even access to the nutrients in the soil.  

Try to scatter the seeds quite freely when sowing them. Spread them about as much as possible, and they will have a higher germination rate.

green leafy spinach in bowl ready to eat

Direct Sowing Vs Transplanting

If you sow the Spinach in a seed starter tray in your greenhouse and then transplant them to the garden after germination, you will realize that they tend to bolt fairly quickly.

The bolting occurs because they develop taproots that do not like to be moved or disturbed too much. Occasionally, they can be transplanted if there are inappropriate temperatures and conditions, which will also make them bolt early, but it is best not to.

Only transplant them to another area if they are sure to bolt if left where they are.

Sunlight

As mentioned throughout this article, Spinach thrives in cold weather. However, in those cold winter months, you will need to provide the Spinach with as much sunlight as possible. Dark and shady places won’t cut it even in cold climates.

Without sunlight, your Spinach is sure to bolt early on.

To make this even more challenging, it is around Winter time when the daylight hours are shorter. Therefore, positioning is vital for Spinach in the Winter; if you get it wrong, you may need to move them, which risks bolting.

If you plant Spinach during Spring, the amount of sunlight generally won’t be an issue. Only when the sunlight leads to significantly high temperatures is when you should take action. Use a shade cloth when the days lengthen.

Downy Mildew And Other Diseases

It is rare to experience diseases in your Spinach plants. The only common disease is downy mildew. This occurs when yellow spots appear on the leaves. You can prevent this by simply spacing the plants correctly and opting for a resistant variety.

Final Thoughts About Growing Spinach At Home

If you love Spinach, you can grow this excellent herb in your garden most of the year. You can grow them on raised beds, ground, containers, vertical planters, etc.

To grow Spinach all year round, you must adjust to the prevailing temperatures and climate. Do this, and you can get consistently high-quality Spinach.

Go ahead and try planting them in your garden. You won’t regret it.

What do you think about this article about growing Spinach? Has it inspired you to grow some at home? Let us know your thoughts in the comments section below.

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