Tuesday, March 17, 2009


Spinach is one of the lovely early crops that you can plant. It will germinate in even colder soil than will peas, but still it has a reputation of being hard to germinate, so two days ago I put half the spinach seed from my packet onto a paper towel. I dampened the towel and put it in a little baggie. I didn't close the end of the bag so it would have some air. I wanted the seeds to start germinating, not rotting. Spinach is one of those plants that hates to be transplanted. It will often bolt prematurely when moved. So my solution is to presoak the seed and put them in the soil just as the first little roots start to appear. That was today. Maybe 5% of the seeds had roots starting. Most of the rest had started swelling. Perfect.

Today with the sun shining on a most beautiful St. Patrick's Day, I dug the bed over. This is the bed that will be my three sister's garden. I'm planting the spinach where the squash will go on the south half of the 4' wide bed. The north half will have my corn and beans planted in them. The corn will need to be planted soon enough, so I made sure I left enough room for it. Or I tried. I found I had way too much seed and made another row. Well if it gets dug up in a few weeks, so be it. Maybe I'll get a little baby spinach out of it.

I ended up planting two sections of spinach. The first was 5 4' rows of spinach, each row 6" apart. The second was much smaller about 2'x2'. The seeds were placed 3" apart in the row. I'm assuming half of them won't germinate, so hopefully I'll get plants about 6" apart in most directions. If not who cares. It was extra space I wasn't using anyway. It just cost me $1.98 to try it. In the last row I put the seed 1" apart since I had so much left over. Hmm maybe I should have prepared a bigger bed or soaked just half the seed.

Just so you know, I've had great difficulty in the past with spinach. We have a streetlight right near the garden. I've always wondered if that was what made my spinach bolt prematurely all the time. Maybe or maybe it was something else. Luckily I noticed the streetlight was out the other night (shhhhhh, don't tell the town until June and the spinach is gone). I'm also going to grow the larger spinach plot under remay to keep any insects off, just in case that was the real issue. If it is something in the soil, well none of them will grow well. For two bucks, it is worth the effort, and I still have seed to try again this fall.


  1. It is looking great Daphne, You can never get to much of spinach.
    I have to wait another week before I can sow...but today it was really nice outside.


  2. Hi Daphne, if it's any consolation, I have an awful time with spinach too. Next time I might try your baggie trick. It seems the temp and moisture must be just so for it to thrive. I saw some 6 packs at the big box of spinach and bok choy, they even had ruby chard! I bought the spinach and Asian greens, I have plenty of chard but was impressed it was there. Walmart had winterbor kale. What is the world coming to?

  3. Your soil looks great Daphne, mine is a muddy mess right now. I hope the streetlight stays out until you are able to harvest your spinach if that is what caused it to bolt in the past. ;)

  4. Thanks for the spinach information. I was going to seed some in cell packs so now I know other wise. I have not figured out where to plant any greens so they will not be in the way in a few months. I have thought about make up some wood boxes to plant them in so they are portable. So much to do and figure out still....

  5. Good luck, Daphne! Let us know how it does!

  6. Good luck with your spinach! I try my hand at it once in a while but never seem to get satisfactory results. I tend to stay with sturdier greens like chard and kale.

  7. I've never had good luck with spinach either and I've always thought it was because I didn't get it in the ground early enough. Our season here in western Mass isn't as far advanced as yours, but I should be able to get out there pretty soon. I'm going to try the baggie trick too.

  8. Tyra, I'm glad you are starting to melt out up there.

    Frances, wow I'm shocked the big box stores has interesting vegetables now. I guess they noticed veggie gardening was getting popular.

    perennialgardener, We haven't had rain in a while now so everything that is unfrozen has dried out nicely. Tonight however we are getting a storm. I hope I get my digging done by then.

    Dan, you could try it both ways and see what works the best. Some people only transplant because they can't get seed to germinate in the garden.

    Our Friend Ben, I will. If they come up and grow, I'll do a happy dance in the garden and tell everyone.

    Michelle, I still havent' tried kale. I have seed, but don't have any plans to plant it. I ought to. I hear such good things about it but it looks so plastic and unappetizing. Hmm maybe for the fall. I always need more crops to try to overwinter.

    Pat, It does have trouble if you plant it late. It is very sensitive to day length. When the day length gets to 14 hours long they will start to bolt. In Massachusetts this happens the last day of April. So you have to get the plants in fast.

  9. My mother, the gardener, says spinach always bolts quickly, the nature of the beast. Save seed from the plants that bolt the latest. She grows and eats chard in spinach's place.

  10. CM it does that sadly. I don't know if I'm going to save the seed or not. The space is needed for the squash and the seed is hybrid. Not that saving seed from hybrids is bad. You just have no idea what you will end up with. Sometimes that is fun. I wonder how long it takes the spinach to set seed once it starts bolting.

  11. Mine is in too...now if I can just keep the mice from eating it I will be glad! Yes spinach is not the easiest of seeds as far as germination rates. I plant every 3 weeks hoping to keep it happy! Kim

  12. This is my experience with Spinach. 3 years ago, I had a hard time with germination. 2 years ago, I tried a different variety (Blomsdale) and had wonderful luck, and ate spinach for 2 MONTHS! Last year I did everything the same: same variety, planting time, but SOMETHING was different - had miserable germination, slow growth, and bad yields. Go figure... I will try again this year.