Spinach- Spinacia oleracea
Spinach is an edible flowering plant that is native to western Asia. It grows in the countries like Netherlands, France, and England. It is a cool weather crop that grows well in the winter season.
Leaves are broad, varied in shape with larger leaves at the base of the plant and small leaves on the flowering stem. Flowers are yellow-green colored with 3-4 mm in diameter and grow to a height of 30 centimeters when the temperature is about 70 F.
It is a good source of vitamin A, vitamin B2, vitamin B6, vitamin C, potassium, magnesium, and calcium. It is also rich in fiber, carbohydrates, proteins, negligible fats and reduces skin irritations and cholesterol levels.
Growing spinach in pots or containers
To grow spinach in pots or containers, consider the following factors
Choose a pot which is 6-8 inches deep or uses a wide pot or large wooden boxes. Sow spinach seeds 1 inch deep in a pot. Sprinkle seeds over a wide area as it requires 7-10 days to germinate. The spacing between them should be 3 inches apart. If you want to have large leaves then spacing should be 5 inches.
Sow spinach seeds in light and well-drained soil. Use potting mix rich in organic matter such as compost and the soil texture can be loamy. For better growth of spinach well-drained soil is required and pH of the soil must be neutral (between 6 & 7).
Spinach is a better crop for gardeners to cultivate as it can withstand frost. The best temperature for germinating spinach is 70 F. The seed will germinate slowly at 35 F and will not germinate in soil if the temperature is about 85 F. Mature spinach leaves will not freeze until the temperature is 20 F.
In a warm climate, plant spinach under tall crops such as corn, beans that helps to defend weeds. Protect plants with shade cloth and if the temperature is above 80 F add mulch to lower the soil temperature.
While growing spinach in pots or containers avoid stagnant water because it leads to the development of rots and fungal diseases in plants. Keep the soil moist but not soggy or wet. Take care of good drainage in the pot if necessary.
Make sure you water the plant regularly or light shower setting. A strong setting can disrupt the newly planted seeds or even wash them away.
Maintain pH of the soil between 6 – 7. If it drops below 6, the spinach plant leaves and stems may turn yellow and pH above 7.5 is not good to grow.
To grow healthy green spinach you need to provide nutrients. You can mix fertilizer such as compost manure that provides nutrients slowly. Feeding the plant with fish emulsion at regular intervals is an organic way to promote plant growth.
Pests and Diseases
However pests like aphids, slugs, and caterpillar can damage the plant leaves, it is easy to control pests as you grow spinach in pots or containers. Growing the plant in cool weather conditions will protect plants from few pests.
Diseases are also threat to spinach. White rust, blue mold, and soil borne fungal disease fusarium wilt are common diseases in spinach plants. White rust is a common problem during cool and humid conditions. Use fungicides to treat blue mold and other fungal diseases. Rotating spinach crop for every 3 years is the best way to control fusarium wilt.
Harvest and storage
Spinach plant is ready to harvest after 6 weeks from seed germination depending upon growing conditions. Pick out the leaves that are 3-4 inches long. Pick outer leaves first and leave new inner leaves so that they continue to grow or cut the base of the plant with knife or scissors. The spinach plant is ready to grow again.
In a warm climate, the plant tends to have yellow or green flowers developing. It’s better to harvest the plant before it starts flowering for good taste.
Can spinach be regrown?
Spinach produces green leaves in cool weather conditions. It is grown for their nutrient-rich leaves that are fresh and cooked. Spinach plant can be regrown and harvested when properly cared. Proper harvesting can extend the productivity of spinach.
Spinach regenerates from growing point where the stems join roots near the soil surface. While harvesting cut spinach within 2inches from the ground. Take care not to cut into a growing point. After 4 weeks the leaves are ready for 2nd harvest. If plants do not produce seeds there may be chances for regrowth which allows for continuous harvesting over a long period.
Care for Spinach
- Keep soil moist with mulching and water regularly.
- Fertilize when it is necessary.
- Do not cut into the growing point of fresh leaves.
Spinach in your diet helps to cure the diseases like cancer, asthma, diabetes and blood pressure.
Cancer: Spinach and green vegetables contain chlorophyll can block carcinogenic effects of heterocyclic amines that are generated at high temperatures in curing cancer tissues.
Asthma: Spinach lowers asthma by consuming high amounts of nutrients like beta-carotene.
Diabetes: Spinach contains antioxidants like alpha-lipoic acid to lower glucose levels and increase insulin sensitivity in diabetic patients.
Skin and hair: Spinach is high in vitamin A that is necessary for sebum production to keep hair moisturized and for the growth of body tissues skin and hair. It also contains collagen that provides structure for skin and hair.
Eating iron-rich foods like spinach can prevent hair loss.
Blood Pressure: Due to high potassium content spinach is recommended for people with high blood pressure. Taking potassium in small amounts may risk the chances of high blood pressure.
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