I grow two plants in the Chenopodiaceae family - Swiss chard and spinach. Spinach is such a prima donna. She hates to germinate, hates being transplanted, and bolts at the slightest hint of heat or long days. I had to treat her with such care. I chitted the seed inside for two days, until I could see the first bit of little roots starting to come out of a couple of seeds. Then I planted Melody on 3/17, 3" apart in rows 6" apart.
Luckily for me she will perform if coddled. I put a row cover over most of the spinach. I left a little out in the open to see what happened. Well what happened is that the row covered spinach produced about a week ahead of the other. Row covers are such a godsend in the spring. I'm always dying for the first taste of spring grown crops and a week quicker was fabulous. In addition covers have the added bonus of keeping off the leaf miners I also planted some spinach 1" apart. That spinach also took a week longer to grow. My first harvest was on April 24th of all the thinnings. I harvested 2.5 pounds of spinach in about 20 sqft. The last spinach came out on May 27th to make room for the squash. Some were taken out earlier to make room for the corn.
I did seed some more spinach in the fall. What came ups was chomped on by slugs, but I still got some plants. The leaves are tattered however so I'm waiting to see if they can over winter under a row cover. Hopefully in early spring the slugs won't bee so vicious.
Next year I will plant a lot more spinach. I have a lot of wasted space that doesn't get planted in early spring. The whole squash and bean bed can be planted with spinach. It has to get ripped out prematurely, but it can still produce a decent crop in that time. And next year I'll do the whole bed correctly. Chit my seed, space them at least 3" apart, thin to 6", and use a row cover.
As a producer, chard is my favorite vegetable in the garden. She just never stops. I plant her early and harvest all summer long and into the fall until the ground freezes solid. A row cover in early spring helps her get off to a good start too, but once it starts getting warm I usually take it off. She was started indoors on 3/16, but I only planted five seeds. I decided I needed more chard so planted again on 3/22 with five more seeds. Since chard seed is not really a single seed, but a cluster of seeds, I thinned out to get a good showing of colors in my Bright Lights. The seedlings were transplanted on 4/7 and 4/14. Three weeks seemed like a pretty good size. They were still small, but took off fast.
I transplanted nine plants at 8" apart. They had a 16"x3' section of the garden or 4sqft. They stayed in the ground all year long and I harvested 8.9 lbs. Even in the fall they grew and this patch doesn't get sun in the fall. It is in shade.
Next year I wouldn't mind one more row. I could freeze a lot for the winter that way. Right now I have more spinach in the freezer than I have chard. I won't however grow Bright Lights. I like the taste of the Ruby Chard better. I will so miss those pretty stems.
Neither the spinach or chard were bothered at all by diseases. The only insects that bother them are slugs and leaf miners. The slugs aren't bad in the spring, but in the fall I'll have to do something about that next year. The leaf miners are easy to control. If they have a row cover they are free of them. For the summer chard I handpicked the eggs every few days. In addition I kept the leaves well picked so there would be few leaves to check and the handpicking would go faster.