Spinach is a low-maintenance plant to grow in the garden that also provides an incredible amount of nutrition and flexibility in the kitchen. If you’re not a huge fan of spinach leaves, try growing your own. You get the best flavor (and the highest nutritional content) when you enjoy these pretty little leaves fresh from the garden.
Let’s look at the best varieties of spinach to grow here in Central Texas and how to start your own spinach plants from seed.
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The Best Types of Spinach to Grow in Central Texas
There are delicious spinach varieties to grow here no matter which season we’re in.
Types of Spinach to Grow in the Cool Season:
- Little Hero Baby Spinach: This spinach is great for growing in containers or small spaces.
- Baby Salad Spinach: This is a high-yielding variety with nutty, sweet leaves that are perfect for salads.
- Bloomsdale Spinach: This is a highly dependable spinach variety that people have been growing since the 1800s! The leaves taste great whether you harvest them as baby spinach leaves or allow them to grow to full size.
- Oceanside Spinach: This variety is great for tender baby greens, and its smoother leaves allow for easier cleaning. I enjoy these leaves fresh or cooked.
Types of Spinach to Grow in the Warm Season:
Malabar Spinach – This is not actually a spinach variety, despite its name. Instead of growing like typical leafy greens, malabar spinach grows on vigorous vines with thicker, more succulent-like leaves. This variety loves the heat, so it should push all the way through the summer here in Austin, Texas.
New Zealand Spinach: Also not technically spinach, this plant is highly recommended as an easy green to grow during our summers. It’s heat-loving and pest-free and can really handle some neglect. The leaves also have great vitamin content. People have been growing this low-maintenance but delicious little plant since the 1700s, and you’ll see why when you give this one a shot.
When to Grow Spinach Here in Central Texas
The traditional spinach varieties I mentioned above grow best during the cool season that runs from late fall to early spring here in the greater Austin area. Spinach can handle some frost, so you don’t have to stress about these greens if we’re expecting a Texas cold snap.
Once the weather warms up, traditional varieties of spinach will bolt, or go to seed. You can prolong this process for a little while longer by giving your spinach plants some afternoon shade or covering them with a shade cloth, but it’s best to just remove the plants from the garden and plant New Zealand spinach there instead.
Make sure to plant Malabar spinach next to a support structure so that its vines can climb. This plant will complete its life cycle when we experience a good freeze.
Spinach Growing Tips
I love to grow spinach in my raised beds, but you can also grow spinach in containers that are at least 6″ deep.
Make sure your spot gets at least 4 to 8 hours of sun. Honestly, this is a great veggie to grow if you have an area that gets partial shade. Your plant just might not grow as fast on this lower end of the light spectrum.
Before sowing spinach seeds, prepare your planting area by adding some fresh compost and an all purpose fertilizer such as Microlife to the surface.
Plant spinach seeds 1/2″ deep every 4″ to 6″. I recommend sowing more seeds every couple of weeks to guarantee a continual harvest of delicious leaves.
Keep the soil evenly moist while you’re waiting on the seeds to germinate and while spinach is maturing.
Spinach Growing Tips (Continued)
Keep your spinach plants nice and tidy by picking off any damaged or yellowing leaves.
Feed your spinach plants regularly with liquid seaweed to encourage lots of healthy leafy growth.
Like I said, spinach can handle some frost, but if we’re expecting temps 26 degrees or lower, it’s best to cover your plants with frost cloth. Make sure to cover young spinach plants if any kind of freeze is expected, since these guys are less established. Learn more about covering your garden for frost here.
Spinach does best when the temps are below 75 degrees. Cover with shade cloth to prolong the time you can enjoy fresh spinach leaves in the late spring.
How to Harvest Spinach Leaves
Baby spinach leaves are typically ready to harvest in as few as 30 days. Many people prefer the taste of younger spinach leaves in salads and smoothies.
More mature spinach leaves are ready to harvest by 60 days and work great in sautés.
To harvest spinach leaves, use a clean pair of scissors or pruners to cut each stem below the leaf. Harvest the lower, outer leaves first to encourage your spinach plant to produce more leaves for you from the center. Take only a couple leaves from each plant at a time so the plant can still have enough energy to keep on growing for you.
Lettuce Help You Grow
That’s prety much all there is to growing your own supply of fresh spinach. The biggest component to success when growing spinach is growing the right type for the season.
What’s your favorite spinach variety? Let us know in the comments!
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