How Spinach Grows And When To Harvest It

 How Spinach Grows And When To Harvest It 

How Spinach Grows

Spinach is a cool growing vegetable that grows very quickly and is one of the first vegetables you can pick in the spring. Not only that, but the plant will regrow after you harvest the leaves, making it one of the most productive vegetables you can grow.
Spinach seeds germinate about 5 to 10 days after sowing. The tiny cotyledons (which are the "first leaves" inside the seed) will emerge and look like two tiny blades of grass. Soon enough, the plant will start producing true spinach leaves.
Most spinach varieties are ready to harvest about 50 days after germination, although the young greens can be cut in about half that time. This occurs when the plant is horticulturally ripe, meaning it is at the peak of flavor and nutrition for harvest.
When the plant matures, or when it's cooked in the heat, spinach is vegetatively mature, which means it will produce seeds for propagation. It will send up long stalks (often multiple stalks from one plant) which will flower and go to seed. The plants can be quite large, almost like a small bush, but the leaves, unfortunately, can be a little bitter.

Spinach regrowth

Spinach is what is known as chopped vegetables. This means that when the leaves are picked, new leaves will grow from the leaf nodes as long as the roots are intact. Generally, you will get the best growth when the plant is still young (before it is vegetatively mature) and it is very common to get 3 or 4 crops from a single plant.
Here are some tips for getting your spinach plants to grow new leaves:

       Cut the leaves above the crown (or basal plate) of the plant, which is usually just above the soil. If the crown is damaged, the plant will not be able to regrow.
       If the plant has already developed a long flower stem, turn the plant over to prevent it from going to seed and pluck leaves from the stem to encourage more leaves to grow.
       Leave at least a third of the leaves so the plant can continue photosynthesizing.
       Regular pruning will keep the plant from growing out of control.
       If you accidentally cut the plant from under the soil (or accidentally remove the whole plant), it will grow in a bowl of water.

Once the plant stops producing, let the roots rot in the garden or remove the entire plant and add it to your compost.

How to harvest spinach

The simplest method of harvesting spinach is by hand since the leaves are so delicate. Simply grasp the leaf stalk(s) between your fingers and pull the leaf away from the plant. Thick cuticles can be cut by pressing between your nails.
Alternatively, you can cut the entire plant just below the soil. This will give you a nice bunch of spinach for market, but unfortunately no regrowth.

Best time of day to harvest

The leaves of spinach are quite fibrous and don't wilt as quickly as some other leafy greens. However, the young and tender leaves fall off very quickly in sunny or hot weather.
To keep the leaves fresh, it's best to grow spinach when it's cool and the sun isn't hot. The best times to harvest are morning or evening, or wait for a cloudy or rainy day.
If you are harvesting in the middle of the day, place the fresh vegetables in the shade or in a bucket of cold water and refrigerate them as soon as possible.

When to cut baby leaves

Baby spinach is collected when the leaves are still immature and young. It is very soft and has a mild taste.
You can usually harvest the leaves 20 to 35 days after germination when the leaves are 7 cm (3 in) long. Hand harvesting is best, and pick the leaves (stem and all), very close to the plant.
At this point, the new leaves will be growing very quickly and the second crop will be ready in a week or so.

When to plant spinach full size

Spinach leaves can be left on the plant and harvested at any time, but they reach their ideal size 40 to 50 days after germination (depending on the variety) when they are about 7 cm to 15 cm (3-6 in) long.
Start by picking the largest leaves around the bottom of the plant, leaving any leaves that are still too young to mature. As with baby spinach, pick the leaves from their stems as close to the plant as possible.
Ripe spinach leaves have a flavor and crisp texture that's perfect for preserves, salads, or any other dish. Waiting for the spinach leaves to ripen will give you a much larger harvest than when harvesting baby spinach.

Harvest plump or overripe spinach

Spinach ripens very quickly and the plants will produce seeds early in the year. This is a natural process and a great way to save spinach seeds for next year.
Although the terms are often used interchangeably, natural going to seed is not the same thing as slipping. Molting is a plant's response to stress and the plant's chemical makeup changes to force itself to reproduce in an effort to preserve the species. Spinach will be associated with:

       Temperature: Spinach is a cool season crop and the ideal temperature for growing spinach is around 21°C (70°F). Once the ambient temperature rises above 27°C (80°F) the plant will begin to wilt.
       Day length: Spinach is light sensitive and will likely wilt if the day is longer than 14 hours of sunlight.

If you want a high-quality crop, harvest the entire plant before the flower stalks show because once the spinach starts to produce seeds, the quality diminishes and the leaves start to get harsh and bitter. Even while spinach is less likely to be bitter than many other leafy greens, we carefully test each plant to make sure it still has a pleasant flavour before harvesting.
If your spinach has ripened past its peak, it may not be edible fresh, so consider other ways to preserve it.
Many of the leaves will be very small, especially near the top of the plant, but you'll get a large crop from a large, mature plant with multiple stems. And don't forget, the flowers and seeds are also edible!

Spinach storage

Whether you want to keep spinach crisp and fresh in the fridge or store it to enjoy all winter long, here are our favorite ways to store spinach.

Keep spinach fresh

For most of us, spinach is a fresh vegetable for salads or added to stir-fries. Here's how to keep spinach fresh for longer:

       Wash and dry the spinach.
       Place it in an airtight container or plastic bag sealed with a piece of tissue paper to absorb excess moisture.
       Refrigerate the container and it will keep good for 7 to 10 days.


We all remember buying frozen spinach from our childhood... sometimes not so fondly. Homemade spinach made from leaves picked from your garden is quite another matter. It has an exceptional taste and is worth following these simple steps:

       Wash the spinach.
       Option 1: Using the steamer basket, bring the water to a boil and then add the spinach to the steamer (if using the steamer basket, skip step 5).
       Option 2: Boil a large pot of water and add spinach to the water.
       After 3 minutes, remove the spinach.
       To quickly cool spinach, place it in an ice bath.
       Spread the spinach on a cookie sheet or place in portion-size mounds (use parchment paper or a silicone mat to keep the spinach from sticking).
       Put the tray in the freezer.
       After you freeze spinach, transfer it to airtight containers or freezer bags and it will keep good until your next crop is ready in the spring.


This is our favorite way to preserve spinach. We have a dryer (worth the investment) but you can also use your own oven:

       Wash and dry the spinach.
       On the tray, arrange the leaves in a single layer.
 Place in the dehydrator or oven at 52°C for 6 to 12 hours, or until the spinach is dry and easily breaks apart with your fingers.

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