How To Grow Spinach The Right Way (2018 Update)

Spinach is one of the best cool-weather crops that you can grow. It produces huge yields of nutritious, delicious green leaves that are a worldwide staple in salads and most dishes you can whip up in the kitchen.​ But do you know how to grow spinach?

Rich in complex B vitamins, as well as vitamins K, A, and many more, spinach is one of the healthiest greens available to us. It’s rich in iron and manganese, and has a reasonable amount of fiber for a leaf vegetable. King of the salad greens, it is also a fantastic addition to most cooked meals, and can even be added to smoothies for an added vitamin boost.

Not only is it a phenomenal food, but it’s reasonably easy to grow, provided that you follow a few basic steps. So let’s talk about how to grow spinach, and the best ways to produce a big supply of this nutritional powerhouse!

Spinach: Quick Care Guide

A young flat-leaf spinach plant. Source: Shehan Obeysekera
Common Name Spinach
Scientific Name Spinacea oleracia
Germination Time 8-15 days
Days to Harvest 40ish, varies by variety
Light Full sun to part shade
Water About 1” per week
Temperature Cool-season, 60-75 degrees preferred
Humidity Can tolerate some humidity
Soil Well-draining, alkaline soil
Fertilizer High nitrogen fertilizer and compost
Pests Flea beetles, spider mites, aphids, cutworms, armyworms, leafminers, slugs, snails
Diseases Downy mildew, powdery mildew, white rust, anthracnose, cercospora leaf spot, spinach blight, fusarium wilt

Recommended Spinach Varieties

While there are many things that are called spinach, including some oddball things like chard, the spinach plant is known by the botanical name Spinacea oleracia. Believed to have originated in ancient Persia, it rapidly spread from there to India, then China, and then throughout most of the world.

Three basic types of spinach are currently being sold today. These are savoy or crinkled-leaf spinach, flat leaf spinach, and semi-savoy hybrid varieties.

Savoy Varieties

Bloomsdale spinach. Source: cafemama

When you go to the supermarket, it’s likely that savoy spinach is what you’re going to see in the produce aisle. Savoy types tend to have a crinkled or curled leaf shape, and work beautifully for fresh eating.

Variety Growing Time Description Where To Buy
Bloomsdale 50 days Heirloom savoy variety from 1925, extremely popular. Cold tolerant. Buy Seeds
Escalade 43 days Mild flavor, upright habit, mildew resistance, and a reluctance to bolt. Buy Seeds
America 43 days Thick green leaves perfect for freezing, canning, or fresh use. Buy Seeds
Palco 38 days Quick-growing savoy type. Bolt and disease-resistant. Buy Seeds

Flat-Leaf Varieties

Red Kitten spinach leaves with some arugula. Source: Lorika13

While these spinach varieties look much different from the savoy due to their smooth, uncurled leaves, they are still spinach! Easier to clean than savoy varieties, the flat leaf spinach types are often used for processing into frozen or canned spinach. They also work well in other cooked applications where the leaf shape isn’t as identifiable.

Variety Growing Time Description Where To Buy
Red Kitten 40 days Medium green leaves with red stems. High resistance to downy mildew. Buy Seeds
Akarenso 50 days Slightly serrated Japanese spinach variety with red-purple stems. Mild flavor. Buy Seeds
Baby’s Leaf 40 days Lots of leaf, very little stem. Early producer. Easy to clean. Buy Seeds
Renegade 42 days Succulent, round dark green leaves. Hybrid variety with consistent growth. Buy Seeds
Giant Nobel 48 days Heirloom from the 1920’s. Extremely large plant, spreading habit. Slow bolt. Buy Seeds

Semi-Savoy Varieties

Crocodile spinach. Source: Mark F. Levisay

Hybrids of the flat-leaf and savoy spinach types have produced a semi-savoy. It has some of the easier-to-clean benefits of flat leaf varieties, but works well in both fresh and cooked uses.

Variety Growing Time Description Where To Buy
Kolibri 29 days High downy mildew resistance, quick growing. Great for baby leaf production. Buy Seeds
Seaside 40 days Resistant to heat bolting, semi-smooth leaves. Downy mildew resistant. Buy Seeds
Responder 42 days Strong germination. Disease-resistant with uniform growth, great flavor. Buy Seeds
Carmel 25 days Quick-growing, very uniform spinach with high downy mildew resistance. Buy Seeds
Okame 50 days Slow to bolt and can take hotter temperatures. Downy mildew-resistant. Buy Seeds
Crocodile 45 days Extremely heat resistant. Great as both baby leaf and mature. Buy Seeds

Other “Spinach” Types

These other plants are often confused with Spinacea oleracia and referred to as spinach. While they may be similar in how they’re used culinarily, they aren’t the same plant. However, they can be quite popular. Seeds for these plants are often found alongside spinach seeds in catalogs or online.

Chard, also known as Swiss chard, is often called “beet spinach” or “perpetual spinach”. While unrelated, it is often grown for its leafy greens as well, although the stalks can also be consumed.

Strawberry spinach is a common name for Blitum capitatum, also known as Chenopodium capitatum or strawberry blite. This plant produces edible leaves, but is often grown for its bright red edible fruit.

Red Aztec spinach (Chenopodium berlandieri) is widespread as a weed plant. More commonly known as red lamb’s quarter or goosefoot, this particular plant produces edible leaves. It’s not a true spinach, but it has a similar flavor when cooked.

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