Spinach is an ideal choice for the kitchen garden. Apparently spinach originated in central and southeast Asia, probably from what we now call Iran. It has been used for food since around 647 A.D., over two thousand years.
It reached Spain in 1110 A.D. Early European colonists brought it to America. Thomas Jefferson grew it at Monticello.
Like most greens, spinach does best in a rich, moist, fertile soil containing lots of organic matter. It prefers a pH around 6.5 to 7. For the best quality leaves, keep it well watered during dry spells.
Spinach is an ideal cool season vegetable. It can be grown during the warmer months if you choose a more heat-tolerant variety. The Territorial Seed Company has a number of varieties that should do much better during the summer months. These include Steadfast, with smooth, beautiful leaves, that maintains its quality throughout the season. Mazurka with thick, slightly sweet leaves, is also recommended.
There are two types of spinach, smooth leaved types and crinkled ones, called savoy. But the flavors donít differ, just the appearance.
Thompson & Morgan sells seeds of perpetual spinach, also called spinach beet. This one is slightly different than regular spinach. Very hardy and tender, it is a reliable producer. It is recommended for fall and winter crops.
Spinach is a perfect crop for spring and fall gardens. Temperatures of 60-65 degrees Fahrenheit are considered ideal. Let the ground cool off in the fall because warm soil temperatures can lead to poor germination.
About 30 to 45 days from the time it is planted, spinach is ready to harvest. Do successive plantings if you want a longer harvest period.
If you really want to get a jump-start on the season, you can start your spinach seeds indoors. It should be ready for transplanting about three weeks from the time you plant the seeds.
As with other vegetables, insects can be a problem. Spinach leaf miners can make the leaves look blotchy. Destroy affected plants.
When cooking spinach, less is better. Lydia Child, author of The American Frugal Housewife (published in 1833) had the right idea. She said three to four minutes was enough.
Spinach is a very versatile vegetable. It can be used for dishes like spanakopita-cheese and spinach pie and even vegetarian lasagna.
Whether you grow the Bloomsdale Long Standing spinach or other varieties, garden-fresh greens are ideal for creamed spinach and spinach salad with bacon.