Spinach (Spinacea oleracia) is healthy and delicious fresh from the garden or in your favorite recipe. Cool weather and plenty of water help spinach grow well. Considered by many a “superfood”, spinach is full of iron, calcium, and vitamins A and C. Learn how to grow spinach and add this nutritious cool-season crop to your garden.
7 Tips for How to Grow Spinach
1. How to grow spinach: Plant spinach at the right time
Spinach can be grown in almost any climate if grown at the right time. Spinach grows best in temperatures between 25°F and 75°F. In cold winter areas, plant spinach as soon as the soil can be worked. Spinach needs about 6 weeks of cool weather from seed to harvest, and it will withstand a moderate frost.
Wondering how to grow spinach in Arizona? In warm climates like the low desert of Arizona, spinach grows during the cooler months.
- Start seeds indoors: August – January
- Plant outside: September – February 15
*does best directly sown in garden
2. Choose the best location to plant spinach
Spinach grows well in full sun to partial shade. Spinach prefers moist fertile soil with neutral to alkaline soil (pH 7.0 or above). Prepare the soil before planting by amending with 2-4 inches of compost.
Good companion plants for growing spinach include radishes, strawberries, and garlic. Rotate where you plant spinach (and its relatives beets and swiss chard), waiting 3 years between planting in the same location to discourage pests and diseases.
3. Try growing different varieties of spinach
Smooth-leaved spinach is easier to clean than other types.
- Matador – dark green; smooth green leaves; good harvested young.
- Giant Noble – large plant with large thick leaves; good for eating raw.
Savoy types are productive and handle cold weather better than other types. Crinkly leaves can be difficult to clean.
- Bloomsdale Long Standing – large heirloom variety has dark-green curled leaves.
Semi-Savoy varieties grow more upright, and their slightly smoother leaves are easier to clean. These types have good disease resistance and tolerate warm weather better without bolting.
- Tyee – dark-green large leaves with good yield; slow to bolt and resistant to downy mildew.
- Indian Summer Hybrid – upright, dark green, and slow to bolt.
4. Plant spinach correctly
- Pre-soak seeds to increase germination rates, and plant each seed ½ inch deep and 2-4 inches apart.
- Thin to 1 plant every 4-6 inches when seedlings are 2-3 inches tall.
- Plant seeds every few weeks for a continual harvest.
- If using Square Foot Gardening, plant 4-9 per square depending on the variety.
5. Provide good care for growing spinach
- Spinach does not like hot weather or dry conditions; plant at the correct time for your climate.
- Spinach prefers consistently-moist soil and regular feedings with seaweed or compost tea.
- Mulch plants with compost to retain moisture and keep plants growing well.
- If leaf miners or other pests are an issue, use row covers for prevention.
- Pick off damaged leaves as the plant grows.
6. Harvest spinach when young for best flavor
Watch plants carefully, and harvest when leaves reach your preferred size. Larger leaves can become bitter; don’t wait too long to harvest. Harvest outer leaves (leaving inner leaves for continual harvest) or harvest the entire plant at once by cutting it off at the base.
7. Clean spinach well and use it a variety of ways
- Wash spinach leaves carefully; soil often clings to undersides of leaves.
- Spinach can be stored but is best eaten fresh in salads, steamed, or sauteed lightly.
- Store spinach in a perforated plastic bag in the refrigerator for up to 10 days.
- Preserve spinach by freezing. Frozen spinach is a great addition to smoothies, soups, and pasta.