Spinach Plant: Growing Spinach From Seeds, ID Charts, Planting Steps, Charts

Georgette Kilgore headshot, wearing 8 Billion Trees shirt with forest in the background.Written by Georgette Kilgore

Gardening | April 1, 2024

Chef sprinkling types of spinach plant varieties into a pie shell after learning spinach identification and how to grow spinach and planting care tips.

The Spinach Plant is an amazing food, and although it won’t make you Popeye overnight, its health benefits are excellent.

Like many other dark green, leafy vegetables, Spinach has a mildly sweet, earthy, robust, and acidic taste when cooked properly.

Conversely, late-harvested, badly stored, and wrongly cooked Spinach can be very bitter to the taste.

But, the wonderful thing is that you can grow Spinach plants in your backyard garden or indoors in a pot, enjoying this ‘green’ veggie all year round.

This complete guide explains everything about the Spinach plant, how you can grow it, the varieties that you can choose, and how to ensure your harvest is always healthy and delicious.

Growing Spinach

The Spinach Plant, when grown from seed, prefers to germinate in cold weather or even in mildly frost-covered soil, making it an ideal early crop.

Spinach seeds can be planted when the temperature is almost near freezing, or 35 degrees Fahrenheit (2 degrees Celcius).1

The Spinach Plant also grows rapidly, you can harvest your first Spinach Plant in your home garden 30 to 50 days after planting in some circumstances.1

Growing your own Spinach at home ensures a plentiful and tasty harvest, and access to nutrient-rich vegetables, and will save you a lot of money at the supermarket.

Spinach Plant growth chart showing the ages of Spinach along with its respective height ranges.

Spinach also has so many inherent health benefits that it should be illegal not to eat it. The Spinach Plant also generates a lower-than-average carbon footprint relative to other vegetables, so you can grow as much as you want without endangering the environment.

Unlike many other vegetables, the entirety of the Spinach Plant is edible and can be consumed fully cooked or raw. You can even harvest the leaves of the Spinach Plant as it grows to coax multiple harvests from multiple plants.

In this comprehensive guide, you will learn how to grow a Spinach Plant outdoors or indoors in a pot. You don’t need a lot of gardening experience to grow Spinach – at the most basic gardening skill level, all you have to do is make sure a Spinach Plant has continually moist soil, is watered weekly, and has full access to uninterrupted sunlight for at least six hours tops.

Even then, Spinach can grow in indirect sunlight – but you won’t enjoy the optimum harvest potential.

The Spinach plant is a hardy, tough, and ancient plant that will grow in spite of your best intentions to take care of it. Still, you should know as much as you can about Spinach to ensure plentiful harvests.

Firstly, here is some data that explains why people don’t like vegetables like the Spinach Plant and data that should encourage you to start planting spinach in your garden today.

Now, here are a few things you must know first about the Spinach Plant before learning how to grow it from seed.

Characteristics of Spinach

The Spinach Plant is a leafy green annual that is in the scientific family Amaranthaceae. Spinach leaves are green-colored, ovate-shaped, grow in a rosette pattern, and usually grow to four inches in height.

The Spinach Plant is a cool-weather crop that must have its seeds planted in weather that optimally ranges between 35 to 60 degrees Fahrenheit in order for it to germinate properly. Spinach can be grown in winter as long as it is covered with plastic covers, a cold frame, or protective agriculture fabric covers.

The Spinach Plant is known for germinating and growing rapidly from seed to seedling, a Spinach seed planted under optimum conditions could grow into a small viable plant within 14 to 21 days. Depending on the sowing circumstance, a mature Spinach Plant can be harvested 35 to 60 days after planting.

The leaves and connected stems are traditionally eaten, but every part of the plant is edible.

Gardeners and farmers harvest Spinach within a 60-day window and before temperatures rise above 75 degrees Fahrenheit so that the vegetable and its leaves maintain its crinkly aesthetics, nutrition, and edibleness.

When Spinach is moisture stressed, crowed by other plants in soil, or exposed to temperatures higher than 75 degrees Fahrenheit, it starts to bolt.

The plant begins growing a central stalk, flowers, and inedible fruit with seeds and tougher-to-chew leaves that make the plant extremely bitter and virtually inedible…at first.


(Spinacia oleracea)

Photo of spinach plant in an oval frame on green background.
  • Family: Amaranthaceae
  • Genus: Spinacia
  • Leaf: Spinach leaves can be varying shades of green.
  • Seed: Spinach only produces seeds after they bolt, a process where the plant aggressively redirects its internal sugars to develop a central stalk or stem, flowers, and seeds. Spinach seeds are very tiny and aesthetically resemble tiny pebbles.
  • Blossoms: Spinach can blossom any time of the year depending on when you plant it or which cultivar you use.
  • Native Habitat: Spinach originated in ancient Iran over 2,000 years ago.
  • Height: The common Spinach Plant usually grows six inches to a foot in height.
  • Canopy: Spinach plants usually grow six inches to a foot in width.
  • Type: The common Spinach Plant is an annual plant, which means that it will typically die after a single growing season. However, there are a few spinach-derived cultivars that are perennials as well.
  • Native Growing Zone: The Spinach Plant grows in USDA plant hardiness zones 2,3,4,5,6,7,8, and 9.

Image Credit: Rajesh Balouria (balouriarajesh)58

Spinacia oleracea

The scientific classification name for the spinach plant is Spinacia oleracea.3

The spinach plant is in the Amaranthaceae family of plants.18, 3
The spinach plant is related to quinoa, beets, Swiss chard, Amaranth, and the aesthetically striking Loves Lie Bleeding plant via its Amaranthaceae family connection.

The Amaranthaceae family classification has over 2,000 species of plants under its familial umbrella. While Spinacia oleracea is a part of the Amaranthaceae family, it exists as its own singular species until a new scientific discovery says otherwise.19

One characteristic of plants in the Amaranthaceae family is that some of them feature fiery-colored standing or hanging panicles, with Amaranth and Love Lies Bleeding being optimum examples. When spinach bolts, the seeding and budding stalk that grows from its center sometimes resembles the aesthetic panicle structure of its Amaranthaceae family siblings, albeit very loosely and without the fiery colors.

While the spinach plant is its own singular species, Spinacia oleracea, there are three main variations of Spinacia oleracea; savoy, semi-savoy, and flat-leaf.

Savoy and semi-savoy are terms that represent the level of wrinkles and crinkles that are visible on a spinach leaf. Savoy spinach has leaves that are very wrinkly and crinkly while semi-savoy are a little less so.

Flat-leaf spinach leaves do have some crinkles, but the leaf is aesthetically flat and easy to distinguish from savoy and semi-savoy.

How To Identify Spinach Plant

You may usually notice spinach in the supermarket or in a garden due to its crinkles, but the shape of the spinach leaf can change relative to the cultivar.

And unless you have seen a spinach plant after it has started bolting with your own eyes, it would be incredibly unrecognizable to you.

Here are several ways that you can reliably identify a spinach plant.

Spinach Leaves (Spinach Leaf Shapes)

Typical spinach leaves have a glossy sheen. Spinach leaves can manifest in several shapes.

Spinach leaves are generally defined in three ways based on their surface; Savoy leaves are very crinkled and wrinkly looking, Semi-savoy is less so, and Flat-leaf or Smooth-leaf spinach leaves feature flat surfaces and have minimal crinkling aesthetic relative to savoy and semi-savoy.

A Spinach leaf can be shaped somewhat like a spade, heart, triangle, spatula, oval, arrowhead, or paddle. Almost all spinach leaf variants manifest a pointed tip.

Spinach Flower

Generally speaking, the optimum time to harvest spinach is 30 to 60 days after planting from seed – common spinach is usually harvested in early spring or late fall.

When unharvested, the spinach flower bolts and transforms from an entirely edible vegetable into a toughened, flowering, and seed-generating plant. The central base stem of the plant starts turning into a tall and spindly stalk that grows upward.

Graphic that shows how to identify spinach plant using leaf, flower, and seed.

Flowers start blooming on the stalk and the leaves toughen and become very bitter to the taste.

No matter its shape, spinach plants are crinkly to the touch and generally have a soft connecting stem that is connected to another softer base stem. If you notice a base stalk and tiny flowers manifesting as florets growing on your spinach, then it has bolted.

The flowers of a spinach plant are generally nondescript and inconspicuous – they manifest as tiny yellowish-green florets on the spinach plant.

Spinach Seeds

After a spinach plant begins bolting it grows a stalk on which flowers bloom. As the spinach flowers begin to mature, they give way to dry, inedible fruit clusters that contain seeds.

Spinach seeds are very tiny and aesthetically resemble small pebbles or stones. Depending on the spinach cultivar, spinach seeds can be white, tan, cream, brown, greyish, or dark brown colored.

Fresh spinach seeds begin rapidly losing their potency and ability to germinate optimally after a year or two. Less than 50 percent of the seeds in a packet of 24-month-old spinach seeds may successfully germinate.20

Freshly harvested spinach seeds have 95 percent odds of germinating within a year. Therefore, it is best to use and plant the seeds within a year.

As the spinach plant bolts it sprouts non-descript yellowish-green flowers that eventually mature into lumpy, inedible, and dry fruit clusters along a sprouting stalk that contains the seeds.

Spinach Seedlings

Spinach seedlings look like minuscule versions of the Spinach leaf and stem.

It could take as little as five days and up to 10 days for a Spinach seedling to sprout. A five-day-old Spinach seedling is just as edible as a 60-day-old Spinach leaf.

Types of Spinach Plant (Images)

Spinach is such a nondescript-looking plant that you might mistake it for another plant if you don’t know what you are looking for.

And since over a quarter of Americans refuse to even eat vegetables like the Spinach Plant and may not recognize it in its uncooked form, here are several Spinach Plant images to help you get acquainted with its aesthetics.

1. Spinach Sprout

This is a pic of three Spinach sprouts that have just broken through the surface of the soil after a week or so of germination. Take note of the tallest sprout to the left, which has developed two leaves that are in the process of opening.

The other two sprouts have only just begun to break through the surface of the soil and point their stems and budding leaves toward the sun.

Closeup of spinach sprouts growing in a small white pot.

(Image: Vitamin41)

Closeup shot of young spinach situated in dirt showing leaflets.

(Image: ha11ok43)

2. Young Spinach Crops

This is a pic of a crop of young Spinach Plants that are ripe for partial harvesting of their outer leaves.

You want to focus on partially harvesting Spinach Plants that have developed full rosette levels of leaves so that you leave the center rosette of leaves alone, giving the plant time to regrow the outer leaves.

3. Nondescript Spinach Leaves

Notice how nondescript Spinach leaves can look to people who don’t know what the plant typically looks like. The Spinach leaves are paddle-shaped.

Without any prompting, one can be told that this is any kind of large-leaf leafy green. From the visible crinkling aesthetics, one can assume that this is a semi-savoy variant.

Closeup shot of nondescript spinach leaves showing smooth surface.

(Image: Judgefloro42)

Closeup shot of a variety of Spinach showing spade-shaped and flat leaf spinach leaves.

(Image: Judgefloro44)

4. Spade-Shaped Flat-Leaf Spinach Leaves

While all Spinach leaves have some degree of crinkles on their leaves, the crinkle and ruffled leaf aesthetics are much more pronounced on the savoy and semi-savoy variants. Take note of the general flatness and smoothness of the leaf face.

Also, take note that the leaves seem to look spade-shaped.

5. Freshly Harvested Rounded Flat-Leaf Spinach

This pic displays flat-leaf Spinach with a round shape that has recently been harvested for retail sale. Note that the leaf and over an inch of the stem connected to the leaf have been harvested.

As you partially harvest your young Spinach Plants, you may want to use this example and just snip the leaf an inch or so under where it connects to its stem.

Closeup shot of freshly harvested rounded and flat leaves of a spinach variety.

(Image: Dinkum45)

6. Fan-Shaped Spinach Leaves

Take note of the fan shape, elongation, wrinkles, and curled edges of these harvested Spinach leaves.

The gardener also harvested several inches of the stem when cutting the leaf away from the plant.

Top shot of fan-shaped spinach leaves on a flat blue surface.

(Image: Miansari6646)

Closeup shot of a spinach variety showing wrinkled leaves of Savoy spinach.

(Image: Elly Brian47)

7. Savoy Spinach Plant Patch

This pic displays a good example of a savoy Spinach Plant patch. Take note of the intense crinkles, wrinkles, and puckering that manifest on the surface of the leaves.

Also, take note of the glossy sheen on the surface of the leaves.

8. Spinach Leaves Infected With Cercospora Leaf Spot

This is a close-up view of a Spinach crop that is badly infected with the fungal disease Cercospora Leaf Spot. Cercospora is a fungal disease that is known for destroying leaf spots.

Take note of the black-colored mottling and lesions that are literally eating away and destroying the plant

Top shot of spinach leaves showing signs of Cercospora Leaf Spot.

(Image: Plant pests and diseases48)

A person's hand holding some spinach showing its roots.

(Image: Judgefloro49)

9. Spinach Plant Roots

Take note of the thicker, lighter-colored, and elongated main taproot protruding from the end of the green stem versus the much thinner ancillary root system that would spread out horizontally from the taproot underground.

While the taproot of a Spinach Plant can exceed a foot, the roots in this photo are far less than a foot.

While not aesthetically pleasing, these Spinach roots are perfectly edible.

10. Post-Bolt Spinach

This photo is an example of post-Bolt Spinach. Take note of the tiny and nondescript yellow flowers and the thickened central stalk growing from the center of the plant.

This plant is in the beginning stages of bolt and will soon turn to seed.

Closeup shot of Post-Bolt spinach plants showing the growth of flowers.

(Image: Judgefloro50)

Top shot of overgrown Post-Bolt spinach crops showing catkins like flowers.

(Image: Judgefloro51)

11. Overgrown Post-Bolt Spinach Crops

Note how different a post-bolt Spinach Plant looks relative to the previous pics.

The leaves are toughened, overgrown, and yellowed due to sunburn, pest infestations, or disease. The central stalk system is now very tall and covered in flowers and newly gestating inedible dry fruit cluster pods filled with Spinach seeds.

These Spinach crops are tough to chew, overly bitter, and of no use for sale as retail crops.

12. A Typical Spinach Dish

This is Spinach Goma, which is boiled or steamed Spinach leaves served with a sesame seed sauce.

This three to four-ounce serving of Spinach has a lot more nutrients per ounce than most other leafy greens. However, because it is not calorically rich nor adds energy after consumption, most people avoid such vegetables out of psychologically ingrained food biases.

Top shot of a spinach goma dish in a white bowl.

(Image: Ocdp52)

How To Plant Spinach

The main thing to keep in mind when planting Spinach is to plant Spinach seeds at least six weeks before the first fall frost or at least six weeks before the final frost of the spring season.

The Spinach Plant is a cold-season plant that has existed for over 2,000 years and will grow despite your best intentions to take care of it.

Closeup of planting spinach on a patch of land.

(Image: Jyotishmita Bhagawati38)

However, to ensure optimal and even continual partial Spinach Plant harvests there are a few things you must do to improve your odds. You don’t need a lot of equipment or specialized gardening skills to plant Spinach.

Here is what you must know.

Research and Choose Spinach Cultivars That Suit Your Needs

You could probably put on a blindfold and use any spinach seed you find and could optimally grow ample Spinach harvests. However, to get the most out of your Spinach Plants, you should know the variety or cultivar you are planting and how its growth properties will benefit you.

You could start by choosing between the three main varieties of Spinacia oleracea, savoy, semi-savoy, and flat-leaf.

Savoy and semi-savoy Spinach are more optimal choices for planting in the early fall or spring because these Spinach varieties grow extra crisper during the cold weather months.

You can grow flat-leaf Spinach in the fall or early winter too, plus flat-leaf Spinach grows relatively faster than savoy and semi-savoy Spinach.

  • The “Bloomsdale” Spinach cultivar is a savoy variant that is disease-resistant
  • “Remington” is a Spinach cultivar that can grow in the fall, spring, and even in the summer. Another savoy cultivar variant, “Tyee” is capable of being planted in the fall or spring and is disease-resistant.
  • “Nordic IV” and “Giant Nobel” are flat-leaf Spinach cultivars that are more heat tolerant and can resist bolting much longer than most other cultivars.
  • “Melody,” Razzle Dazzle,” and “Indian Summer,” are great Spinach cultivars that can planted in the fall.
  • “Olympia,” “Wolter,” “Nordic IV,” “Tyee,” and “Melody,” are Spinach cultivars that were botanically designed to be very disease-resistant.
  • New Zealand Spinach (Tetragonia tetragonioides) and Malabar Spinach (Basella alba) are perennial and leafy green Spinach alternative vegetables that are heat-tolerant, bolt-resistant, and can be easily grown in summer instead of common Spinach.21, 22 New Zealand and Malabar Spinach are actually vine plants that grow edible green leaves that are aesthetically similar to Spinach – you will need a trellis to grow them optimally.

Secure Spinach seeds from a recently bolted Spinach Plant or buy specific cultivars from a nursery.

Find an Appropriate Area To Plant

Even though the Spinach Plant is a cold-weather plant that does not optimally grow in temperatures over 75 degrees Fahrenheit, like any plant, it still optimally requires several hours of unobstructed sunlight to grow daily.

Strategically choose an area on your property that receives at least six hours of unobstructed sunlight before planting. The Spinach Plant will grow in indirect sunlight with no problem, but the harvest yield might be smaller as a result.

Make sure that the soil in your home garden is well-draining. Consider giving your soil a pH test before planting. The Spinach Plant requires a soil pH anywhere in the range of 6.5 to about 8 to grow optimally.

You should allocate an area of garden space at least 10 feet long and a foot wide or longer to your Spinach seeds.

If you plant multiple rows then each row should be separated by at least one foot. Space each Spinach Plant at least six inches to eight inches apart so that they do not crowd and stress each other as they grow, which can initiate bolting.

If you have the room, space our Spinach Plants apart by at least a foot if you can.

You can plant your Spinach seeds about three inches apart to start with. But when the Spinach seedlings grow at least two inches in height then you will need to gently remove every second seedling and transplant them elsewhere in a process called thinning. (More on that later)

Add Nitrogen-Rich Fertilizer Before Growing Spinach

Generously apply at least a few cubic feet of organic fertilizer to your home garden soil before planting, especially if you plan on planting a few rows of Spinach Plants. Fertilizers generally contain nutrients like phosphorus, potassium, and nitrogen which help plant life grow faster, grow bigger volume-wise, and produce more food overall.

Never use processed fertilizers that contain weed killer – a “weed” is a term used for any undesired plant and you might unwittingly sicken or kill your Spinach Plants.

You can use fertilizers like soybean, cottonseed, alfalfa meal, fish emulsion, animal-based blood meal, well-rotted manure, or any organic fertilizer with an especially high nitrogen content.

If you opt to use animal manure, make 100 percent that is several weeks or months old and well-rotted. Fresh animal manure used as fertilizer might transfer harmful microbes and bacteria to the soil and plants.

If you added generous amounts of nitrogen-rich fertilizer to the soil before planting your spinach seeds, then you might not need to add more later.

However, if you plan to partially harvest the outer leaves of the plant several times before a final harvest, then it might help your plants to regrow their partially harvested leaves faster if you add a little more fertilizer to the soil every three weeks or so.

How To Grow

When you are ready to plant, sow the Spinach seed about one to two inches deep in the soil and no further. Planting the seeds deeper than two inches could stress the seed as it germinates and ensure that it bolts as it sprouts and grows.

Spinach seedlings from nurseries or indoor pots are difficult to transplant because they are delicate, easily stressed, and traumatized, and their roots are easily damaged during transplantation.

The Spinach Plant grows quickly to maturity, so plant from seed if you can.

After planting the seeds, cover them completely and lightly with soil without compacting the soil. Maintain the looseness of the soil integrity as your Spinach Plants grow – you can also spend a few days occasionally tilling and raking the prepped soil before planting your seeds.

If you want a continuous supply of Spinach throughout the year, you will need to plant a new Spinach crop every three to four weeks.

You will have to switch to growing the bolt-resistant and heat-tolerant New Zealand or Malabar Spinach or the Remington Spinach cultivar during the summer to maintain your supply through the summer.

Now, you need to mulch your garden. Cover the garden in a least two to three inches of mulch.

You don’t necessarily need to use large wood chip mulch either – you could lay down a mulch covering of grass clippings, sawdust, leaves, straw, hay, or even newspaper shredding.

Mulch helps soil retain moisture, keeps soil cool, suppresses weed growth, and adds extra nutrients to the soil as it slowly decomposes.

Water the seeds with a gentle spray nozzle hose with low water pressure. If the water pressure is too high then the seeds might move closer together or wash to the surface.

Spinach Plants like to have consistently moist soil – you should be able to stick two inches of a finger into the soil and feel moistness to ensure the plant is well hydrated.

You can water Spinach once a week. You should check on the moistness of the soil every two to three days to ensure it stays consistently moist.

Pay attention to the spacing of the plants as they grow if you space them together less than six inches apart.

As your Spinach Plants grow in size, they begin crowding each other, stunting their own growth, and stressing themselves to the point of bolting. Thinning is the process of strategically removing young Spinach Plants to make room for the rest.

You can try to transplant the thinned plants you remove, eat them, or compost them.

How To Grow in Extremely Cold or Hot Weather

If the ambient temperature goes over 80 degrees Fahrenheit or below 35 degrees Fahrenheit then you can enclose your garden in a cold frame or cover it with a plastic sheet or row covers.

Row covers are a great way to keep pests away from your Spinach Plants as well.

When To Plant Spinach (When Is Spinach Season?)

Spinach season can be whenever you decide it is relative to your gardening needs. Spinach is a cold-tolerant plant down to 35 degrees Fahrenheit – Spinach can even withstand colder weather with the aid of a cold frame or row covers.

Generally speaking, fall and spring are the prime growing seasons for common Spinach so as to avoid the heatwaves of summer.

Plant Spinach seeds for at least six weeks before the first frost of fall or the last frost of the spring months.

Why Is It Important To Continuously Plant Spinach Throughout The Year?

You should plant new Spinach crops every 21 to 30 days to supplement your yield as the Spinach Plant is an annual. Intermittent planting is also important if you want a continuous supply of Spinach throughout the year.

You should also remember to harvest a third of the outer Spinach leaves of each plant every 14 to 21 days before the plant fully matures. The outer leaves will grow back several times before the entire plant fully matures.

The majority of the Spinach Plant is comprised of over 91 percent water. Spinach shrinks dramatically as you cook it and significantly reduces its overall volume.

Cooking one pound of Spinach will ultimately yield only one cup of cooked Spinach after it shrinks during the cooking process.

Growing Spinach in Containers

Many home gardeners opt to grow some fruits and veggies in a container located inside or outside the home or on a windowsill. The Spinach Plant is a versatile plant that you can also grow in a container if you choose.

A Spinach Plant “container” in this context is a relative term for a flower pot. You can use any flower pot that suits your personal taste and you can use one made of any sturdy plant-safe material. (More on that later)

What is crucial to note here is that the Spinach Plant grows a taproot that can reach lengths of one foot or longer.

Additionally, Spinach also grows a smaller horizontal root system that can spread for a foot or longer. While this may not happen to you, it is crucial that plant your Spinach seeds in containers that are a cubic foot or a little greater in volume and have room for taproot growth.

Unless you have an interior greenhouse room with additional space, you will be limited to planting one seed per pot. If your plant container is two cubic feet in volume or greater, then you might get away with planting two seeds per pot.

If both plants don’t have enough room to set their taproots and grow you run the risk of the premature bolt.

Also, you will have to keep the temperature range between 35 degrees Fahrenheit and 75 degrees Fahrenheit.

Remember that Spinach loves moist soil to a depth of about two inches, so always make sure that your containers have drainage holes at the bottom.

You may have to get wide buckets to place under your flower pots or stand your flower pot container in the bathroom after each watering. Make sure that you are up to the task of the continual maintenance that will be required of you when growing Spinach in a container.

Brainstorm how to strategically and proactively safeguard your plant container if you have young children or large pets running around the house.

Angled shot of spinach growing in a rectangular container.

(Image: Martin Belam39)

You also have to keep in mind that growing Spinach Plants in containers whether outside or inside also reduces your overall yield potential. Unless you plan to put rows of containers inside your home, you won’t produce a yield comparable to planting several Spinach seeds in an outside home garden.

Growing Spinach in a container does have its upsides – your Spinach Plants are far less likely to encounter diseases or pests when segregated from outdoor vegetation.

You can also space several Spinach seeds three inches apart from each other if you plan to grow them in a container for up to 10 days and then transplant them into a garden later.

How To Grow in Pots

The first thing to focus on is getting a container or containers that suit your gardening style and projected yield expectation.

You should plant one seed per container or perhaps two if it is wide enough to give both plants six inches or more of space.

Investing in a wide-length trough-like container for planting could give you space to plant three or four Spinach Plants per container.

You could also plant many seeds at three-inch spacing intervals if you plan to transplant them outside as soon as they grow about two inches tall.

Carefully consider the kind of material that your container will be made out of since that decision will determine your future ease of maintenance duties.

If you opt to grow Spinach Plants inside a container, then a major drawback you must know about is that the soil will dry out much faster than if the plant was in a garden. You will have to compensate by checking the container’s soil every other day or so and make sure that it moist down to a depth of an inch or two.

To make that process easier, you might want to get a container made of unglazed clay or cedar wood or choose a self-watering planter.

A planting container made of unglazed clay will let excess water moisture evaporate through its interior walls. A plant pot made of cedar wood is more resistant to waterlogging or rotting.

The Spinach Plant grows a taproot that can go down up to a foot or more and spread vertically almost as long too. Make sure that your container has enough interior space to grow such a plant so that its root system does not coil and strangle itself or stress the plant to bolt.

Your soil mix should be a mix of well-draining soil and your choice of nitrogen-rich fertilizer or compost. Don’t compact the soil in your plant container, it should be loose.

The soil line should stop at about two or three inches below the top rim of the container.

Sow your spinach seed or seeds about an inch deep into the soil. As previously mentioned, the soil should be moist, not soaking wet all the time, so make sure that your container has adequate drainage holes at the bottom.

You can add a layer of mulch to the top of the container with materials like straw, haw, sawdust, or grass clippings, but it is not totally necessary.

You should place your container near a window or area where the seeds will get at least six hours of direct and interrupted sunlight. You may need to adjust or turn the container regularly to adapt to how the sunlight enters your home through the window.

Water once or twice a week depending on your regular maintenance checks of the moisture rate of the soil.

Check the moisture rate by gently poking a finger in the soil down an inch or two every two days or so, you may have to intermittently do some additional shallow watering to keep the soil moist.

Unless you have planted heat-tolerant Spinach cultivars that can take hot weather, you should plant Spinach seeds in your container in the early fall or early spring. Spinach leaves become crunchier, and fuller in size and flavor when they germinate and grow in cold weather above 35 degrees Fahrenheit.

It should take anywhere between five and 10 days for your Spinach seeds to fully germinate and start sprouting. You can then let them grow another week or two until they reach two inches in height before transplanting them outdoors.

Use the utmost caution when transplanting young Spinach seedlings. Young Spinach seedlings get traumatized and stressed easily.

Don’t just pull on the Spinach seedling and yank it out of the soil, you need to gently dig into the soil around the rim, gently dig down, and remove the young root ball and root system intact without causing damage.

Don’t rush this delicate Spinach seedling extraction process, take your time.

If you do decide to grow your Spinach seed to maturity indoors, just remember that you are better off growing one plant per container, unless you use a plant-based trough container, and that your overall harvest yield could be smaller than a garden yield.

Why Is It Recommended To Grow Spinach From Seed Instead of Transplanted Seedling?

You are probably better off growing Spinach from seed than seedlings. Spinach seedlings are fragile, have delicate roots, and are easily stressed and damaged during transplantation.

Transplanted Spinach seedlings are easily traumatized and stressed when transplanted and are more likely to produce a smaller harvest or go to bolt quicker.

Growing Spinach seedling transplants indoors can take a few days or anywhere between five and 10 days. You could save yourself a lot of time and effort by just germinating from seed in an outside garden.

There are many plants that must be germinated weeks or months beforehand and grown as seedlings before planting, the spinach plant is not one of these plants.

Additionally, it is much cheaper to buy Spinach seeds or collect them from a post-bolt Spinach Plant than to buy seedlings from a nursery.

Additionally, transplanted Spinach seedlings need as much space as possible to grow, so you will have to plant them with one foot and up to 18 inches of space between them. This could be a problem if you have limited garden space, so plan ahead before planting.

What Are the Benefits of Growing Spinach Indoors?

Even though growing Spinach tends to be easier than growing other plants that require constant maintenance, you can’t just forget about it and walk away.

As previously mentioned, you will have to regularly check up on it and perhaps regularly move it to keep pace with how the sunlight moves around the interior of your home during the day.

Closeup of a variety of spinach growing in a pot indoors.

(Image: Rens D40)

Still, there can be several appreciable benefits to growing Spinach indoors in a plant box or container instead of outside in a garden.

Location Versatility

You can grow your Spinach in a large container, flower pot, trough, or windowsill. You can move around a plant container to maximize sunlight absorption.

Moving around plants can also help enhance the interior decor of your home.

Easier To Grow Companion Plants

It could be easier to grow companion plants for your Spinach Plant if each plant is in a different container. Each plant will have differing watering needs, direct sunlight requirements, and so on.

Instead of having different plants struggle for limited resources on one patch of soil in the garden, you can specifically tend to the needs of each different plant in their respective containers.

Less Potential for Weed Growth, Pests, and Disease

By segregating your Spinach Plant from the environment and growing it indoors, you might be ultimately protecting it from the problems that plants in outdoor gardens deal with perpetually.

It is highly unlikely that unchecked weeds, pests, and diseases that can run amok in micro-garden ecologies will affect your segregated indoor plant containers.

There are minimal options for controlling such problems in an outdoor garden – and such problems in outdoor gardens are usually well-pronounced by the time you see the first signs of them.

Fertilizing Becomes Easier

If you do a good job of implementing enough fertilizer when you mix it in with your well-draining soil at the early planting stage, then you probably won’t need to add more later.

To ensure that you generate an appreciable yield, you might want to add a little more fertilizer every three weeks or so until maturity, especially if you plan to partially harvest the leaves multiple times before the plant hits full maturity.

When you fertilize the Spinach Plant in your container, you can be sure that your plant is benefiting from it.

Companion plants and other nearby plants and trees in an outside garden could have extensive root systems that could steal or lessen the limited amount of fertilizer and water that your Spinach Plants can fully access.

The 7 Stages of Spinach Growth (Growing a Spinach Plant From a Seed)

The Spinach Plant is an annual, which is a type of plant with a closed life cycle of under 12 months.26 An annual plant left to its own devices to grow and live out its natural life cycle will die in less than 12 months.

A Spinach Plant in the wild will live for just under a year, it will start with sprouting, growing, and producing palatable leaves in a 60-day period, then go to bolt and produce a stalk, flower, dry fruit clusters, and seeds. When a Spinach Plant goes to bolt it is part of its annual life cycle, unfortunately, a post-bolt Spinach Plant is virtually inedible.

It is an agricultural strategy to harvest palatable and edible Spinach Plants within a 60-day window after planting. It is within that crucial 60-day window that Spinach becomes edible and palatable to humans.

Graphics of the 7 stages of Spinach growth which includes seed germination, initial sprouting, sproutling stage, transplant stage, young spinach, harvest stage, and post bolt.

Here is a seven-point guideline for the typical annual life cycle of a Spinach Plant. Always remember that this is a general guideline based on a 60-day window of growth from seed germination to final harvest.

There are a few Spinach Plant cultivars that are ready for harvest within 24 days. So, your ultimate harvesting deadline will vary according to your circumstances.

1. Seed Germination

Spinach seeds lose their potency to germinate very rapidly, so make sure to use fresh Spinach seeds well within 12 months. At this stage, a Spinach seed needs cool weather, moist soil, and anywhere from five days to 10 days before it fully germinates.

At this stage, the Spinach seed is just germinating and preparing to sprout. Some plant seeds require multiple weeks or months of cold, darkness, and germination, so a germination period of five to 10 days is relatively quick.

2. Initial Sprouting

At this stage, about five or 10 days have elapsed.

The Spinach seed has just germinated and produced a minuscule tiny proto-seedling. It is edible but hardly worth eating at this stage.

This is a newborn Spinach sprouting that has just entered the world and started the ticking clock on its 12-month life cycle existence and post-bolt potential within 60 days.

If you notice that the tiny Spinach sprout has at least two leaves, then you can technically transplant it outside if you grew it in a container. Since Spinach Plants stress easily during transplant, you may want to wait until the sprout is at least two inches tall.

3. The Sproutling Stage

Within the second or early third week, you may start to observe the initial sprout grow into a baby seedling. The first tiny leaves will start growing and its spindly stem will become more pronounced in shape.

A Spinach Plant is edible throughout a 60-day period from sprouting to harvest, but it still is not worth eating now. You should let it continue to grow into its full seedling stage, a stage in which it is appropriate for transplantation.

4. Transplant Stage

Within the third week or early fourth week, your Spinach Plant should start forming its initial rosette leaf form and fleshing out its eventual final shape. Its root system has been growing and is ready to receive more nourishment to grow towards its full size.

Don’t skimp on the nitrogen-rich fertilizer during the pre-planting stage or be ready to add additional fertilizer every three weeks or so.

The transplant stage Spinach Plant is a seedling in the tween stage of life. It is very delicate, so use the utmost caution when transplanting it.

If you plan on growing the plant full term to harvest in a garden, you might even be able to start partially harvesting the outer layer of young leaves if they have started forming in a rosette.

Remember that Spinach Plants grow very rapidly, depending on the cultivar that you use, your Spinach Plant may be ready for transplant much earlier than the third or fourth week. The 60-day rule in this guideline is just an example.

5. Young Spinach

At this stage, which should be just under the one-month point, you should have a fully grown young Spinach Plant with leaves about two to three inches in length or longer.

The plant has basically grown enough for regular weekly or bi-weekly partial harvests to begin.

You can start partially harvesting a third of the young outer Spinach leaves while leaving the internal leaves to grow.

Keep the soil moist and add more supplemental nitrogen-rich fertilizer as needed to ensure the young plant has the energy to fully regrow its partially harvested leaves multiple times.

6. Harvest Stage

At this point, 50 to 60 days have elapsed.

You have probably coaxed three to five partial harvests by only removing a third of the outer leaves. Your Spinach Plant has given all that it can at this point and should be harvested.

Always taste-test your Spinach Plant leaves during your prior partial harvests of the outer leaves. The longer that a Spinach Plant stays in the ground nearer to and after the 60-day window, the more likely it is to start tasting more bitter or go to bolt.

Spinach Plants do not have firmly entrenched roots, you should be able to lift them out of the soil easily.

7. Post-Bolt

Post-bolt Spinach is not an unnatural occurrence, it is just an undesired life cycle development for humans who want to eat it when the plant is at its most edible stages. The only way to get Spinach seeds is from post-bolt Spinach Plants after all.

Post-bolt Spinach plants develop extremely bitter and tougher-to-chew leaves, a central stalk that grows tall in the center of the plant, flower, and grows dry, and inedible fruit clusters with seeds. The Spinach Plant grows seeds at this stage to continually propagate its own existence.

What Should Be Done With Post-Bolt Spinach Plants?

Post-bolt Spinach Plants are virtually inedible and should be pulled from your garden the moment you notice any manifesting.

There is really no way to stop the bolting process in a Spinach Plant once it has begun.

You can harvest all of the seeds from a post-bolt Spinach Plant. Then you could shear them into pieces and throw them onto a compost heap.

Tips for Germinating Spinach Seeds

You can plant your Spinach for germination into the soil when the weather is on your side and your nutrient-rich soil has been readied. Plant at least six weeks before the first frost of the fall or six weeks before the last frost of spring if you’re planting common Spinach.

You want to plant spinach seeds while the weather is cold and as the ambient temperatures slowly warm up. Still, there are a few cold-weather spinach variants you can use or you could use a cold frame to plant spinach in the dead of winter.

However, there is also a spinach seed germination “priming” trick that you can do about 10 days before you plant to improve your odds of germination.24 If your spinach seeds are many months old, then half or more of them may have lost a lot of their potency to germinate optimally.

To prime your fresh spinach seeds before planting, start by soaking them in a saucer or bowl of lukewarm water for 12 to 24 hours. Then, wrap the seeds in paper towels so that they will dry off.

You can place the seeds, wrapped in a paper towel and placed in a ziploc bag or airtight receptacle for 48 hours.

Once you are certain that the spinach seeds are completely dry, store them again in an airtight receptacle for a week.

Even though this process could take more than a week, priming your spinach seeds will ensure that they have absorbed and internally retained enough water to augment the germination process from within without just counting on your watering schedule to start it solely.

While you don’t really need to do this, it can help to ensure that more of your spinach plant seeds germinate than if you didn’t.

Growing a Spinach From a Cutting

Unlike other plants, you can’t grow spinach plants from other spinach plant cuttings. For example, you can cut one potato into three pieces, plant each cutting, and then three new potato plants will grow.

You can partially harvest spinach leaves because you are leaving a third of the plant intact as well as its roots. Excised spinach leaves and stems are incapable of growing new taproots and root systems, so you can’t plant them as cuttings.

Spinach plants can only be grown and propagated by sowing seeds acquired from post-bolt plants.

What Are the Best Growing Conditions for Spinach Plant?

The best-growing conditions for spinach plants require ambient weather conditions anywhere between 35 degrees Fahrenheit to 75 degrees Fahrenheit. Common spinach plants need cold weather to germinate properly before growing.

Prep the soil beforehand by mixing it with the nitrogen-rich fertilizer of your choice. Do this weeks or months beforehand so that the fertilizer is well integrated into the soil.

Don’t skimp on the amount of fertilizer you add to the soil.

You may need to add additional fertilizer every three weeks or so depending on the growth progress of your spinach plants.

The soil should be loose, not firm, and well-draining to accommodate the spinach plant’s taproot in case it grows longer than a foot. Spinach can grow in any soil conditions, like sandy or rocky soil, which is not optimal for robust harvest.

The only condition is that spinach does not like dry soil. So, keep the soil moist, but not drenched with water.

Growing Zones for Spinach Plant (Where To Grow)

There are so many spinach plant cultivars available that you don’t necessarily need to be limited by a USDA Plant Hardiness Zone or region to plant it. Malabar and New Zealand spinach are spinach plant alternatives that taste just like spinach and can be grown during the hot summer months.

The Remington common spinach cultivar can be grown during the summer months too.

Growing Zones

If you live in the United States, the USDA Plant Hardiness Zones for the spinach plant include zones 2,3,4,5,6,7,8 and 9.

Still, you don’t have to be limited by a USDA Plant Hardiness Zone to plant spinach unless you are using common spinach plant seeds. Contact a nursery that sells cultivars to find a spinach cultivar suited to your needs.

Spinach Plant Growth Rate

For the common spinach plant, the growth rate can take anywhere from 35 to 60 days, which is a general growing rule for the plant.

The growth rate you experience will vary according to region, growing conditions, soil health, and the cultivar that you use. Some spinach cultivars can grow to maturity within 24 days.

How Long It Takes to Grow Spinach Plant

There is no general or expert consensus on how long it takes to grow a spinach plant. The general rule is that you should try to aim for harvesting the plant before 60 days have passed since the first day you planted.

The spinach plant leaves will start becoming bitter to the taste and will soon turn to bolt, which is a part of its annual existence. If you want a more concise timetable, you should aim to harvest your spinach plants within a 40 to 50-day period.

Taste test your spinach plants during partial harvests to check for signs of increasing bitterness to see how long you can grow it within a 60-day window.

When To Plant Spinach Plant for the Best Yield

Aim to plant your fresh spinach seeds at least six to eight weeks before the first frost of the fall or six weeks before the last frost of the spring months.

Try to stay within this planting time frame if you are planting common spinach outdoors.

Planting Tips for Spinach Plant

There are several planting tips that you can employ while growing your spinach plant.

Consider testing the pH of your garden or plant container soil weekly with a pH test kit. Spinach likes to grow in soil with a pH between 6.5 to 8

If you have limited growing space in your garden then you should consider thinning out your spinach plants as they grow to two inches high. This is an especially good tip if you are growing old spinach seeds and have spaced them two or three inches apart when you planted them.

Thinning is the process of removing every second plant to allow more space for the remaining plants to grow without being overcrowded or stressed. The thinned plants can be eaten, composted, or transplanted to plant boxes, containers, or troughs indoors.

If you notice that your spinach leaves are changing colors and turning yellow, bronze, purple, or dropping leaves, or appear not to be growing anymore, then there may not be enough fertilizer in the soil. Or, your spinach plants might be under-watered.

If you notice any spinach plants that begin bolting, pull them up immediately.

Keep your soil moist at all times but not soaking wet. Spinach plants do not do well in dry soil – spinach plants in dry soil will bolt a lot sooner than later,

Don’t overestimate the spinach plant’s preference for cold weather. Exposure to deeply cold weather will kill spinach plants.

Use a cold frame to protect your spinach plants if you insist on growing them while the temperature is extremely cold.

What Is the Best Way To Alter Soil pH if Needed Before Planting?

If your soil’s pH range is off, you can add limestone. Limestone applications to soil can appreciably lower acidity or increase pH as per your garden’s needs after a pH test.

Consult with a gardening expert to learn how to apply and strategically dose limestone to your garden as per your needs.

Strategically applying limestone to your garden won’t solve its pH problems overnight. You might have to wait eight to 12 weeks as the limestone slowly changes your garden’s pH before you can start planting.

How Far Apart To Plant

If you not planning to thin out your spinach crops, then you should space your spinach plants at least five inches to eight inches apart. Spacing your spinach plants apart by a foot would be the best spacing scenario.

Spinach plants grow optimally when they have as much space as possible to grow without being overcrowded or stressed.

As previously mentioned, you should at least have an area of 10 feet in length by six inches or more in width to grow spinach. If you have multiple rows of area for planting, then you should separate each row by a foot.

Demarcate areas for planting and planting new crops on a three or four-week basis so that you always have consistent harvests.

If you have more space to plant multiple spinach plants, then spacing the plants six inches apart with rotating planting and harvest schedules won’t be an issue.

Watering Needs

The spinach plant is over 2,000 years old and will grow under any soil conditions. But it won’t grow optimally under just any soil condition.

The soil you grow your spinach plants in must be moist at all times down to a depth of one to two inches. Water your spinach once a week and make sure that it is moist to a depth of two inches with a finger poke test.

Check the moistness of the soil every 48 hours to test whether the soil needs some shallow supplemental watering.

How Much Sunlight Does Spinach Need Each Day?

The spinach plant is a tough and cold-weather hardy plant that can grow in the wild or on the side of a highway. And spinach can grow in indirect sunlight in the shade.

The amount of sunlight a spinach plant requires can depend on the cultivar. Common spinach can survive on about four hours of direct sunlight at the minimum, but it is not an ideal circumstance.

Sun Requirements

Still, your spinach plant should not have to grow under such conditions. Your spinach plants should be planted in an area where they will be exposed to at least six and up to eight hours of uninterrupted sunlight.

Top shot of a variety of spinach plant under the direct sunlight.

(Image: Lance Cheung53)

Make sure to scout the area where you plan to plant your spinach plants beforehand to ensure the area receives at least six hours of direct sunlight exposure daily.

How Long Does It Take To Grow a Full Grown Spinach?

There is no easy way to fully answer that question – the growth time to manifest a fully grown spinach plant varies depending on factors like soil health, region of growth, local climate, type of cultivar used, and numerous other factors.

60 days is a general timeline window to grow spinach to maturity, but you might be able to grow a full-grown spinach plant within 40 to 50 days.

Common Pests of the Spinach Plant

Spinach loves to grow in cold weather, so the plant usually does not have issues with pests – but it does happen sometimes.

Some common pests of the spinach plant include the aphid. Aphids love to munch on spinach leaves and are also known for spreading disease.

Slugs, flea beetles, spider mites, armyworms, and snails also love spinach leaves. Leaf miner larvae enjoy eating and tunneling through spinach leaves and soil – you can notice them by the light-colored blotches they leave on the leaf after tunneling through it.

Natural Pest Control

Spinach plant pests are not shy – you should be able to see them crawling on your spinach plant leaves and eating them.

You can spray them off of your plants by spraying them with water, but you must take care to dry off the leaves afterward. If the leaves are constantly soaked, they will be very susceptible to rotting and disease.

You can also hand remove pests from the plant if you spot them. Excise any plant leaves that showed signs of being eaten or tunneled through by pests.

You can also use row covers or a cold frame to enclose and segregate your spinach crops from their local micro-ecology until ready for harvest.

How To Stop Spinach Plant Disease

There are several plant diseases that can affect your spinach plant crops, especially if you grow them unprotected in the front or back yard.

Rust and other mildew are fungus-based plant diseases that manifest as discolored yellow spots on the surface of the leaf and as discolored mold on the underside of the leaf. Cercospora leaf spot and fusarium wilt are also plant diseases to beware, they are both caused by fungus.

One disease that can afflict is the mosaic virus, which is a virus that causes yellow or whitish spotting and mottling on the plant leaves.27 It is called the mosaic virus because it causes distinctive discolored mottling on the leaves of plants that almost resemble a mosaic-style painting.

The mosaic virus is wildly infectious and destroys the plant down to the molecular level. This virus is known to hundreds of plant species, especially tobacco crops.

Spinach Disease Prevention

If you are growing spinach plant crops in a garden surrounded by other kinds of plants and trees, you may want to use spinach seeds or nursery seedlings derived from disease-resistant spinach plant cultivars.

Space your spinach plants apart by at least six inches or more – spacing your plants apart by a foot would be better. Overcrowded plants develop their own microclimates where mildew and excess moisture can cling to the leaves and encourage rot. Plants that have space between them allow air to circulate between them often.

Mosaic virus particulate can cling to your hand or garden gloves and infect every plant you successively touch. Every plant that you suspect of being infected with mosaic rust must be removed and destroyed.

Your best defense against plant diseases is proactive measures. Your best option may be to segregate your spinach crops with row covers or a cold frame enclosure.

Companion Plants For Growing Spinach

There are many companion plants to choose from that can help protect your spinach plants from pests, and diseases, and even help them grow stronger.

Peas and beans are nitrogen-fixing legumes that will add more nitrogen to the soil as your spinach plants mature.

You can plant onion and garlic plants as companion plants as well – garden pests are repelled by garlic and onions.

Radishes won’t compete with the water or fertilizer in the soil with your spinach plants. Additionally, pests love radishes and the plant can act as a decoy plant for pests.

Nasturtium is a brightly colored edible flower that is known to repel pests like beetles and aphids.

Strawberries give off a natural chemical called saponins that strengthen it and nearby plants against disease.

Leeks give off a natural odor that is repulsive to garden pests.

Consider growing cilantro as a companion plant for your spinach garden. Cilantro attracts parasitoid wasps and ladybugs who love to eat the competing pests in the garden trying to eat all the other plants.

Tansy is a fern-like plant that is proven to be a powerful pest repellent.

How To Harvest Spinach

Before you even consider harvesting spinach you must keep in mind the idea of initiating multiple partial harvests before the final harvest of your spinach plants to fully optimize harvests.

As previously mentioned, you can partially harvest a third of the outer spinach leaves of each plant, while leaving the center leaves and base alone every week or two depending on how quickly the plant grows. The spinach leaves will grow back every time – and then you can finally harvest the plant when it is mature.it is mature.

Additionally, multiple partial harvests will cause the plant to refocus its internal energies toward growing the untouched inner leaves larger as well as regrowing more of the lost outer leaves.

The untouched internal leaves should be large enough to ensure a plentiful final harvest, even with the last generation of regrown leaves.

During partial harvests of the outer spinach leaves you can gently pinch off the petiole, or the small stem at the base of the spinach leaf that connects it to the main stem. Or you can just carefully snip off each leaf a little below the petiole.

A person harvesting spinach.

(Image: Kindel Media54)

How do you know when the final harvest will arrive? The unharvested center spinach leaves that you left alone while partially harvesting the outer leaves can help you answer that question.

Typically, the spinach plant is ready for the final harvest when the leaf is at least three inches wide and grows anywhere between four inches to six inches long. Six-inch-long spinach leaves should be your uppermost guide metric to judge when it is time for a final harvest.23

You should also be in the habit of taste testing your partially harvested spinach leaves during every partial harvest throughout the 60-day growth period. These partial harvest taste tests of leaves can help you to check for bitterness.

The amount of time it takes your spinach plant to mature differs depending on the nutrition levels of your soil, ambient temperatures, cultivar type, and your gardening vigilance when watering or partially harvesting. It could take 35, 45, 55, or 60 days for your spinach to mature.

Flat-leaf spinach typically grows faster than savoy or semi-savoy and is ready for harvest faster.

“Auroch” is a flat-leaf spinach cultivar that is known for being ready for harvest within 24 days.24 “Space” is a savoy variant that can be grown in any season and could be ready for harvest in 25 days under optimum conditions.

As a general spinach gardening tenet, you should strive it harvest within a 35 to 60-day window. After 60 days you incur the risk of your spinach crops going to bolt.

How Many Leaves Can Be Harvested Per Plant?

There is no concise consensus on how many leaves will manifest on a spinach plant once you harvest it. The number of leaves that grow on each of your spinach plants depends on how well you fertilized the soil and watered it, the plant’s access to uninterrupted sunlight, ambient temperatures, and other factors.

Generally speaking, a typical spinach plant might be able to grow at least 25 leaves before harvest, not counting any prior partial harvest of leaves.36 The spinach plants in your garden might grow fewer or more leaves before the final harvest depending on the health of your garden.

Harvesting Spinach (The Final Harvest)

A mature spinach plant can have a taproot as deep as a foot or longer depending on the size of the spinach. The spinach plant can also have roots that spread out horizontally up to a range of a 15-inch radius.25

Generally speaking, your spinach plant root system may not go deeper than six inches.

Spinach plant root systems do not firmly entrench themselves into the soil. You should be able to gently pull and twist the plant and pry it entirely from the soil without much effort.

How To Store Fresh Spinach for Months at a Time

Freshly harvested spinach does not keep for a long time after being picked. Endeavor to eat as much of the spinach you harvest so as not to waste your gardening efforts.

If you have too much spinach left over after a harvest, you can freeze them in your freezer for up to 14 months.

Start by cleaning the spinach in a lettuce spinner or dunking, water washing, and rinsing the leaves multiple times to remove all dirt.

Photo of Spinach leaves in a market in a box.

(Image: Dinkum55)

Then, blanch the spinach in boiling water for exactly two minutes, no longer. Then, put the spinach in water with ice cubes for two minutes to halt the cooking process.

Place the spinach on clean terry cloths or paper towels and blot them until they are as dry as possible.

Then pack them about a pound or two at a time into resealable bags. A better option is for you to invest in a vacuum-sealing machine for plastic bags that remove all of the air before sealing them.

You can keep them in the freezer for anywhere between nine months and 14 months.37

Spinach Facts

Spinach has some interesting facts about it.

The spinach plant probably originated about 2,000 years ago in ancient Iran, during a time period when the country was known as Persia.3 Spinach was introduced to ancient India, China, and Nepal as the “Persian Vegetable” in the mid-7th century.

Spinach prospered in the ancient Arab world and was introduced to Spain by the Moors sometime during the 12th century.

Depending on whom you ask, spinach arrived on the European continent sometime between the 12th and 14th centuries.

The early European colonists brought spinach with them to the Americas in the 19th century. Spinach became the first frozen vegetable to be sold by retailers in the early 20th century.28

The Creator of Popeye Used the Character To Encourage People To Eat Spinach During the Depression

Everyone knows that Popeye loves eating spinach, but did you know that the creator of Popeye, E.C. Segar, created Popeye to push health-conscious marketing for people to eat more spinach during the Great Depression?29

The consumption of spinach surged by over 33 percent during the era of the Great Depression. Many schoolchildren of the era said that spinach was their third favorite food.

Contains Organic Salts Called Oxalates That Can Cause Health Issues

Excessive oxalate consumption inhibits the human body from absorbing potassium, sodium, and calcium optimally. Oxalates are sometimes called antinutrients.

Excessive oxalates in the body form crystals that cause kidney stones that can only be expelled via painful urination. They can also cause gout and kidney failure if excessively consumed over the long term.

Your body naturally creates oxalates as a waste product during its functions. Spinach contains a lot of oxalates that can overload your system with more oxalates than it usually processes normally.

Oxalates can bind with nutrients like calcium and other vital nutrients and prevent them from being absorbed into your body.

When oxalates build up considerably inside your body they will clump together into crystal forms and then can also be expelled painfully through the bladder.

However, you should not be alarmed about eating spinach. There are numerous everyday foods that must be treated to remove toxins before consumption.

Miscroscopic image of oxalate crystals.

(Image: Ajay Kumar Chaurasiya56)

Cassava root, also known as tapioca, must be heavily treated to remove toxins that turn into cyanide when ingested.

Cashew nuts contain a chemical that can cause caustic inflammation and itching that must be removed before consumption,  it’s why they cost so much.

If you like calcium often, you should drink lots of water while consuming it. Oxalates are water soluble and lose their potency and binding abilities the more they soak in water.

You may also water to eat food high in calcium when eating spinach or take vitamin supplements with the guidance of a doctor.

While you can eat spinach raw, refrain from it – always boil or steam spinach for at least 10 minutes. Boiling or steaming effectively dissipates over 87 percent of the oxalates found in spinach.30

As long as you follow these rules then you can eat as much spinach as you like – most people can enjoy spinach with no issues.

You would have to consume several pounds of raw spinach daily to develop high and toxic oxalate levels in your body. And that would take weeks or months to accomplish.

If you have a family history of kidney stone problems, then you should not eat over four ounces of any food that contains more than 50mg of oxalate.31 Always consult a doctor about your diet and spinach intake if you suffer from such medical issues.

For additional context, a half cup of boiled spinach, which is about four ounces, contains about 755 mg of oxalate.32

If you are in the habit of buying pricey vegetables like the spinach plant at the supermarket, then you are just burning money. You can easily and quickly grow your own home garden spinach crops on your terms.

If you simply don’t like vegetables like the spinach plant, well you should know better as an adult. Children, teens, and adults need all the nutrients they can get from eating more vegetables.

However, adults tend to dislike and avoid vegetables just as much as teens and children. Many Americans seem to develop a psychological aversion to green, leafy, and fiber-rich vegetables early in life, even though they know such attitudes are counterproductive.

A 2019 psychological survey study about the unwillingness of people to eat vegetables found that over 25 percent of Americans never eat vegetables of any kind.2 That is the equivalent of 83.2 million Americans who go out of their way to never eat a vegetable.

The same survey study revealed that over 72 percent of Americans wished they ate vegetables, and knew that they should, even though they had no intentions to do so. Even the 75 percent who admitted to eating their veggies only did the bare minimum – most of the people in that estimate only ate veggies in a third of all their meals.

Still, Americans offered more concrete reasons why they didn’t eat vegetables in the survey – many said they didn’t like the fact that their veggies spoiled too quickly before they cooked them. Many admitted that they never learned how to prepare vegetables correctly for consumption.

However, another 25 percent of Americans in the same study also said that vegetables were too expensive to buy, which is an easy choice to make for an undesirable albeit healthy food. One pound of premium organic spinach can cost anywhere between $3 to almost $7. (More on that later)

Since spinach is comprised of over 91% water, it tends to wilt and shrink a lot if you boil or fry it, which subtracts significantly from its aesthetics.3

Incredibly, there is proven scientific research that attempts to uncover why people hate eating their veggies, even though they know they should.

A 2016 scientific study suggests that human beings are almost mentally hardwired to dislike green, fibrous, bitter-tasting, and leafy vegetables from childhood.4

People, especially children react aesthetically and physically in a positive way to foods high in calories, fat, or sugar that taste good and provide an energy boost. Most people learn to love flavor-intense junk food and fast food from a young age, even as their elders tell them to always eat healthier.

The spinach plant does not provide an energy boost and is not calorie-rich. Spinach is nutrient-rich and fibrous, which aids in digestion but doesn’t pack a calorie or energy punch that creates a youthful sense of memory.

As a child, you may remember pushing around the greens on your plate and stalling to consume them after eating the protein and flavor-rich main course – it’s a memory that becomes hard-wired in the mind.

It takes time for kids to fully appreciate how nutritionally vital spinach is, which 75 percent of them still won’t appreciate as they become adults.

Along with not appreciating the taste, people mentally associate dread, unappetizing taste, and stalling when it comes to eating their veggies at a young age.

Along with cooking spinach with tasty but healthy foods and ingredients to get over such apprehensions and appreciate the need for a balanced diet, there are many reasons why you should start growing spinach in your garden right now.

China is number one globally when it comes to farming spinach.

China produces almost 30 million tons of spinach annually.3 China grows about 90 percent of the spinach that is currently available in the world.

The United States comes in second as a global spinach producer and grows over 435,000 tons of spinach annually.5

Even though Americans should definitely eat more of it, they do indeed collectively still eat a lot of spinach. Depending on the research you consult, the typical American eats anywhere from a pound and up to three pounds of spinach annually.6

Still, even if you do consume veggies like the spinach plant, you are probably overpaying for it. Learn how to easily grow it in this comprehensive guide and you can grow your own supplies of spinach at home for free.

As per a May 2023 economic report compiled by the USDA Economic Research Service, the typical cost of spinach in a supermarket was $3 per pound, or about $1.29 per cup.7 However, this estimate should be taken as a conservative estimate of average retail spinach prices nationwide.

In reality, you are likely to spend a lot more than $3 per pound for spinach, especially in these times of rampant inflation. This is especially true if you want to buy premium-level organic spinach that is free of pesticides.

You are more likely to spend over $6.84 for only one pound of organic spinach at specialty markets or just $3 at the supermarket.8

Some dietary experts suggest that Americans eat at least one and a half cups of spinach weekly to help satisfy their nutritional needs.9 So, if you ate one and a half pounds of spinach per week, or six pounds monthly instead of three pounds annually, then it would cost you $41.04 monthly just to buy organic spinach.

So, even if you were inclined to eat six pounds of organic spinach monthly, it could cost you at least $492.48 annually.

If you have a home garden with one or more 10-foot rows with a foot of space between rows then you could potentially harvest 6 pounds or more of spinach per harvest.10 Additionally, while the entire spinach plant is edible, you can just partially harvest a third of the outer leaves a few times and coax several harvests from each plant in your garden crop.

Just remember to leave about a third of the plant alone after each partial harvest of the outer leaves – this includes the inner leaves, the base, and the roots. Then, you can partially harvest one plant or entire crops multiple times before the spinach plant matures around the 40 to 60-day mark, depending on the cultivar variant you use.

Since the spinach plant is an annual, you can increase your harvest by staggering new seed plantings on a monthly basis. Then you partially harvest a third of the leaves from the plant four or five times per plant before the final harvest. (More on that later)

Spinach is easy to grow – you could start harvesting spinach within four to six weeks with a minimum average of at least 35 days.11

Spinach plants grown from seed need several days and up to 10 days of cold and darkness to fully germinate, so you could plant them in early fall before the first frost of winter arrives or before the last frost of spring.

The ambient temperature around your soil can be as cold as 35 degrees Fahrenheit (2 degrees Celcius) and spinach seeds will still germinate.1

Some gardening experts believe that spinach seeds can germinate in soil with ambient weather as low as 25 degrees Fahrenheit (-3.9 degrees Celsius) or as high as 75 degrees Fahrenheit (23.9 degrees Celcius).12

However, once the ambient temperature rises about 75 degrees Fahrenheit spinach plant will “bolt.”

After a spinach plant bolts, it redirects its internal sugars and energies to growing a central stalk, flowers, and seeds that grow in clusters along the length of the stalk. A spinach plant is an annual and this is a natural part of its life cycle growth process before it dies within a year.

Spinach leaves become tougher, extremely bitter, sinewy, and practically inedible after bolting.

Your goal as a home gardener is to grow your spinach in the spring or fall months and before the hotter weather arrives, which can induce bolting. The spinach plant is only edible during the crucial first 60-day period of its annual life cycle.

Still, even though most common spinach plant seeds require weeks of cold and frosty weather to germinate before growing, there are a few spinach variants and cultivars that can grow even in the heat of summer and that are bolt-resistant (which you will learn more about in this guide).13

Along with being easy to grow at home, the spinach plant is nutrient-rich.

Photo of several Spinach leaves tied together for selling.

(Image: Willis Lam57)

Spinach is rich in nutrients like calcium, iron, antioxidants, and vitamins A, B, and C – some scientific studies even suggest that spinach has many natural cancer-fighting components.14 The spinach plant is also an appreciable source of folate and manganese.

A single 3.5-ounce serving of spinach has 0.4 grams of fat, no cholesterol, and zero calories.1

Technically speaking, the spinach plant actually packs much more nutritional punch than most other mass-produced and cultivated green veggies.13

Growing your own spinach at home will also protect you and our family from the inescapable plague of industrial pesticide use in agriculture. Almost every fruit and veggie item available in the supermarket has been blasted by pesticides – you have to buy organic or look for pesticide-free labels to be 100 percent sure otherwise.

The United States agricultural industry uses over 1 billion pounds of pesticides and chemicals to protectively coat its crops – over 5.6 billion pounds of pesticides and chemicals are sprayed on crops on a global level.15 Over 25 million farm workers and agricultural employees are poisoned or contracted illnesses due to their proximity when spraying pesticides on crops.

It’s a dirty secret in the agricultural world, but after crops are sprayed with pesticides, they must spend hours, days, or even weeks off-gassing or allowing time for the potency of the pesticides to dissipate before they can be safelt sold to humans.

You will be safer health-wise growing your own spinach and some other companion crops you will learn about in this comprehensive guide at home.

The one fixable drawback of eating spinach is that it contains appreciable levels of oxalate or oxalic acid.16

Oxalate is an organic compound in plants that manifests as an organic salt within the human body. Eating too much oxalate via excessive spinach consumption can cause calcium deficiencies, gout, kidney stone development, and potentially even kidney failure.17
However, there are many foods in the world that contain toxins that must be removed before safe consumption, like cassava root, cashews, red kidney beans, and so on.

As long as you boil or steam spinach for several minutes and drink lots of water as you eat it, along with some other proven oxalate-detoxifying methods you will learn in this comprehensive guide, then you won’t have to worry about oxalate poisoning.

You would have to eat large amounts of unboiled raw spinach daily without drinking water or accompanying foods high in calcium to encounter serious oxalate poisoning problems. The high-nutrient benefits of eating spinach far outweigh its very low but inherent oxalate toxicity potential.

Still, if you have ever been diagnosed with kidney problems, or kidney stones, or have a medical history of such problems, then always consult a doctor about which foods are safe to eat.

Plant Benefits

Some scientists consider Spinacia oleracea as a perfect vegetable food that is full of helpful nutrients and may contain the potential to treat other medical ailments.33

Regular spinach consumption has been scientifically proven to protect against the onset of obesity, cardiovascular disease, and even cancer.34

Spinach has been proven through intense scientific study to be a good source of antioxidants, moderate blood pressure, and protect eyeballs from sunlight damage.35

If you live in the continental United States, then you should probably plant spinach somewhere in USDA Plant Hardiness Zones 2 to 9.

If you live outside of these planting zones or somewhere where the weather is often hot and humid, then you can use spinach cultivars to suit your climate.

What Is the Carbon Footprint of a Vegan Diet?

Spinach is a 100 percent vegan food which means that it was not derived from any animal to create it. You may also want to refrain from using fish emulsion or animal-based bloodmeal as a fertilizer to stay in line with this culinary philosophy.

The cultivation of spinach leaves behind a relatively small carbon footprint. Around 12 ounces of carbon dioxide is generated for every 2.2 pounds of fresh spinach that is grown and cultivated.36

A typical automobile would have to drive for at least one mile to generate that much CO2.

Are Self-Watering Planters a Good Idea for Plant Containers?

A self-watering planter is basically an upside water bottle or receptacle with a funnel that has a dot-sized hole at the bottom of it. You place self-watering planters in a plant box or container with a connected stake and the planter will incrementally and slowly drip water onto the soil.

Use one as a test to see how your spinach plant reacts to it before employing the use of a self-watering planter full-time.

You can also take a water bottle full of clean water with a plastic cap and tape a long thin stick to it. Then poke a small hole into the top of the bottle cap.

Carefully stick a Q-tip into the hole you just created, make sure that the hole is large enough for the Q-tip to fit into without allowing water to also constantly stream through.

Stick your homemade self-watering planter into the soil and the Q-tip end poking out from the cap should deliver a drop of water on the soil every few seconds or every few tens of seconds.

Spinach is a nutrient-rich food that is easy to grow and can save you over $500 annually on paying for organic spinach alone at the store.

As long as you grow and harvest your spinach plant within 60 days, you should be able to grow spinach at home, maintain a regular supply all year, and do it on your own terms.


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45By Dinkum – Own work, CC0, <https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=24454926>

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49By Judgefloro – Own work, CC0, <https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=92928074>

50By Judgefloro – Own work, CC0, <https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=75734402>

51By Judgefloro – Own work, Public Domain, <https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=52690975>

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