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The spinach (Spinacia oleracea) belongs to the family Gänsefußgewächse and probably originated from northern Persia. It is believed that leafy vegetables were only distributed in the eighth century by the Moorish conquerors in Spain and from there in the rest of Europe. The first written mention was the spinach in the 14th century in Konrad von Megenberg's "Liber de natura rerum" ("Book of Nature"). However, the vegetables in Germany seems to be widespread only since the 16th century. At first pointed-leaved varieties were common, but today they have largely been replaced by the more productive round-leaved ones. Instead of the spinach, we have been cultivating the garden announcements and the good Heinrich since ancient times. These are two types of wild vegetables, which are also members of the goosefoot family. They were largely displaced by spinach.

Spinach forms a dense, rich green leaf rosette of smooth or curly leaves on a pale green upright stalk. The one-year-old plant grows quickly and produces a lush harvest, especially in cool and humid weather. There are about 50 varieties. Some of them are grown only in the spring, while winter spinach in a sheltered place tolerates temperatures down to minus twelve degrees Celsius.
From the botanical side, three types are distinguished: Female plants have spherical, green and inconspicuous inflorescences. They form a lot of leaves and flower late. The yellow-green flowers of the male plants are slightly larger, the leaves smaller and they are more prone to shooting. Female as well as male flowers on a plant bear bred shot-resistant varieties such as 'Emilia F1', 'Monza F1' or 'Toscane F1'.
Despite the usual processing into frozen food freshly harvested spinach still tastes best and has a higher concentration of vitamins and minerals. Although scientists have already downgraded its high iron content, which is often said about it, spinach is a valuable vegetable because it contains iron, magnesium, vegetable protein and B vitamins. It can be boiled, served in salad leaves or as a smoothie ingredient. Oxalic acid is present in the spinach leaves and stems, which can cause calcium metabolism disorders, so do not consume the vegetables in too large quantities.

Location and ground

Spinach thrives best on humus rich and well-drained soils, as it is deeply rooted. The soft leaves dry out quickly, so the soil should be wet enough. The leafy vegetables grow both in full sun and partially shaded locations - but there is a lush nutrient supply in the risk that it stores a lot of harmful nitrate in the leaves.

Grow the spinach

Spinach prefers humus, loose soils

Sowing and planting

Since spinach does not tolerate harsh sun and heat, because otherwise it scraps quickly, flowers and tart in the taste, the cultivation is limited to the spring and autumn months. Springtime spinach, containing less of the tartaric oxalic acid, can be sown outdoors from March to May. Loosen the soil thoroughly and rake two to three liters of mature compost per square meter flat in the soil during bed preparation. The soil should be free of weeds, fine crumbly and moist, so that the seeds can germinate well.
Sow the round spinach seeds close to each other in two to three centimeters deep seeding beads with a distance of 20 to 35 centimeters. Then the grooves are closed and the seeds with the front of a Eisenrechens well tapped. Under a non-woven tunnel or foil, the plantlets are sufficiently protected in the cold. Alternatively, you can prefer the young plants with five to seven seeds in small pots.
The cheapest sowing date for the autumn harvest is in the third to fourth week of August. For winter cultivation can be sown between mid-September and - in mild regions - in early October. These plants are then harvested from mid-November to early April. Later, it should no longer be sown, because the spinach plants no longer root well and freeze.

Sow the spinach

The spinach seeds should be well covered with soil and tapped


Apart from the composting before sowing the spinach needs as a weakling no further nutrients. It is important to avoid exaggerated fertilization because the leafy vegetables tend to store nitrogen in the leaves in the form of nitrate. Until the cotyledons appear, you should keep the soil even in deeper soil layers evenly moist. Even then, the vegetables need a steady supply of water, because the leaves wither quickly in drought.In addition, it is important that you regularly hack the bed and pluck the weeds by hand in the rows if necessary.

Harvest and recovery

You can harvest the first leaves six to eight weeks after sowing in stages. In spring and summer, the harvest window is smaller, but the harvest time reached at the latest when the first plants shot. When harvesting, the roots should remain in the soil as they promote the growth of neighboring plants and subsequent crops by the release of saponins.

Harvest spinach

First, individual leaves, later the entire rosette can be harvested

When soaked in a damp cloth, freshly-picked spinach can be kept in the fridge for two to three days. For freezing you should first wash and clean the spinach, then briefly blanch in boiling water and spin dry.

Mixed culture and crop rotation

The short culture time makes the spinach an ideal pre- and postculture for other vegetables. In addition, the roots left in the soil after harvesting provide a loose substrate in which other types of vegetables grow excellently. Not only strawberries and onions, also kohlrabi, cabbage and beans in mixed culture are good with spinach. In the crop rotation, it should be noted that spinach is incompatible with itself and other goosefoot plants such as chard and beetroot. An extension of three years is advisable.


There are varieties with round seeds (var. Inermis) - which include the most currently cultivated varieties - and those with pointed (var. Oleracea). The leaves of the varieties differ in size, leaf color, length of stems and fleshiness. The choice of variety depends on the desired sowing date. For the cultivation in early spring are suitable cold-resistant varieties such as 'Butterfly' and the popular Auslese 'Monopa', which contains little oxalic acid. Decorative red-stemmed varieties like 'Bordeaux' and 'Red Cardinal' need more warmth and less leaves.
Medium late varieties such as 'Matador' are ready for harvest from October. 'Winterriesen Stamm Verdil' is a new strain of biodynamic breeding and will be cut from November until spring. Also 'Nobel' is a winter-proof spinach with dark green, blistered leaves and a fine taste.
For the unheated greenhouse only fast-growing, mildew-resistant varieties are eligible, such as 'Emilia F1', with large, dark green leaves or the organic breeding 'Tarpy'.

Diseases and pests

Mostly, the robust vegetables are insensitive to pests. Only snails create germinating little plants. Downy mildew occasionally occurs during cultivation in the greenhouse and in too wet weather. It is recognizable by bright, bulging spots on the upper side of the leaf and a gray-violet fungus on the underside. As a countermeasure you should ventilate early and do not water in the evening. In addition, you should pay attention to a suitable crop rotation and keep sufficient distances between the rows.

Video Board: The Good & Bad News of Eating Spinach.

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