Although it is still hot outside, the calendar tells me that fall is just a few weeks away and it’s time to do my first task of the season – sowing spinach seeds. Spinach is one of my favorite cool weather vegetables and to get a good stand it’s important to sow early – just before the heat breaks.
I live in the mid-South, but gardeners in other areas of the country can grow a fall crop of spinach too. It needs 45 days to mature before the first frost date in your area and with the use of cold frames or frost blankets it’s possible to push past this date as well.
Spinach seeds can be sown in rows directly into the beds. In containers, broadcast the seeds over the entire soil surface. Cover them with a thin layer of soil about ½-inch deep and water. Then keep the bed consistently moist. If the plants are slow to grow or the leaves are too pale, feed them with a fertilizer that is high in nitrogen following the directions on the package.
When ready to harvest either cut the entire plant off at the ground, or pick outer leaves that are dark green in color and about 3 to 6 inches long. Wash and store spinach in an air tight container in the refrigerator. It will keep for about a week.
This year I’m trying a variety called Bloomsdale Longstanding. I grew this in my spring garden with excellent results. It is a heat tolerant spinach that kept producing well after the temperatures started to warm up. I had such a good crop that I decided to try it again this fall. This variety produces dark green, thick and heavily crinkled leaves that are perfect for pairing with apples, using in sautés or wilted salads.