February 19, 2014 - Spinach

I never have enough spinach.  In the past five years, my largest harvest was a meager 7 1/4 pounds.  The other four years saw about 6 1/2 pounds harvested.  One problem has been leaf miners, which ruin the spinach leaves if they aren't protected.  I have found common netting from the fabric store does a decent job of keeping the miner flies out.  Yes, the same netting you find in tutus and wedding veils.  Another problem is that spinach seeds seem to be quite finicky about germinating.  That little problem can be solved with presprouting the seeds.  Just dampen a paper coffee filter, sprinkle on the seeds, fold in half and put them in a plastic bag in a warm place.  Check daily.  I've had seeds begin to sprout in as little as two days!  Anyway, this year I swear I'm going to have spinach....lots and lots of spinach.


I planted a small bed of spinach in the fall and it overwintered under plastic.   It looks like it might be putting on a bit of new growth, so I'll hopefully get some early spinach for my salads.  This bed, however, will have to be cleaned out in April so it can be prepared to hold tomatoes and bush beans.  So, for my main planting of spinach.....................

.........I began presprouting the seeds.  Eighty of them.

And I made 72 soil blocks/cylinders with my homemade block maker.


Then, since 18 seeds managed to sprout after only two days, I planted them in 18 of the blocks, added a humidity dome and set them in the warm laundry room to wait for their siblings to sprout and join them.  With luck, I'll end up with 72 nice spinach plants to set out in the garden in about a month.

Elsewhere in my pre-spring rush to get something....anything....growing:

The little lettuces are almost ready for a second harvesting of outer leaves, the onions have had another trim (except one container of sweet onions that isn't growing as well as the others.  ? I don't know why, as they have the same potting mix, seeds from the same packet, same everything.  After only one parsley germinated in the thickly seeded pot, I planted another pot of seeds.  Two days later, three more parsley plants popped up in the first pot.  Now I'm going to have more plants than I can use!  It's been warm enough all week to put these seedlings out for the day, but they have to be on the patio, protected from the strong winds we've been having again.

I've had to remove one of the plant window shelves to make room for the pepper and tomatoes.  The pepper is growing, getting a new flush of foliage and blossoms!  The tomato plants also have some clusters of small buds, and will soon have to be potted up into larger planters.  The adopted African violets are doing great!  The sucker plants I removed from one overgrown violet have taken root and developed new leaves.  

Hurry, Spring!


20 comments:

  1. Your over wintered spinach looks nice. Mine always looks very very ragged. I only eat the new spring leaves once they start to form. I usually pull them in early May some time. The later spinach gets to stay in until late May. I don't think I'd get anything if I pulled them in April. But then again I don't cover them either.

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    1. Daphne, I should have used Remay or Agribon to cover the bed. It didn't get enough water with the plastic covering it. On one side of the bed the plants are really small and the soil was dry. With the plastic removed, temps in the 40s and 50s, and rain in the forecast, they may perk up a bit. I can hope. I don't eat the overwintered leaves either, as they are usually quite tough.

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  2. I hope you have lots and lots of spinach! You are off to a much better start than I am. Your overwintered spinach looks really good. I never seem to have enough spinach either, but this year I am hoping to have a whole bed full instead of spots here and there. I pre-sprout my spinach seeds too to help eliminate the duds.

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    1. Pre-sprouting really does help, Rachel. I have 48 planted already, on the third day after putting the seeds in the filters.

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  3. Wonderful! I <3 spinach and the kids will sit and eat a pound each in a sitting. It's hard to grow here and I miss my window of opportunity almost every year. This year I have only 5 little plants and very little hope for them. You are already impressing me wiht the overwintered and now ou will have 72 more? I'm coming to your house! ;-)

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    1. Barbie, I HOPE I'll have 72 more spinach plants! Never count your spinach before it hatches, LOL

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  4. I have never had any success with spinach. However I try to prevent this, it always bolts. I love it best as an ingredient of "Eggs Florentine".

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    1. Mark, our season for spinach is short, as our weather turns very hot, very fast. This is the best my over wintered spinach has ever looked, so I must experiment further for next year. I need to plant it about two weeks earlier in the fall, and provide it with a row cover instead of plastic, possibly doubled for added protection. It needs to get more moisture during the winter than it got this year. We love fresh spinach salads, as well as plain steamed spinach seasoned with butter, salt and pepper. Vinegar for Mr. Granny, but not for me.

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  5. Just call me , Rabbit, 'cause I am getting in there.

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    1. Well, hi there Cloudy Rabbit! C'mon over :-D

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  6. Do you read, Eliot Coleman's, Four Season Gardening book? Where he talks about one unheated greenhouse changing your planting zone by 1.5 and then with a cover over the plants directly it adds another 1.5.

    He purports that it isnt entirely the freezing that kills winter crops but the wind and chill.

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    1. No, but I think it was a recent seed company newsletter where I read the first layer of row cover (Remay or Agribon type) raised it one zone, a second layer raised it another zone, but anything more cut out too much light.

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  7. Spinach seed will germinate at 40 degrees. Try starting them in a cool place.

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    1. Larry, I don't have a cool place in my house, and I'm too impatient. They will sprout in the coffee filters, in my 72 degree laundry room, in 2-3 days. I've already planted 48 sprouts and already have several pretty little green seedlings this morning. I haven't checked yet, but I'd bet the soil blocks will be completely filled with germinated and growing spinach. Four days.

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  8. oh, your approach to growing spinach is so methodical... i love it..!!

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    1. Bangchik, I just hope I can find the room to plant it all! Since I have to keep it covered and safe from leaf miners, I need to plant it all in one bed and still have room for the chard and beets the leaf miners love.

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  9. I am so impressed with your knowledge on gardening. Maybe if I keep reading your posts a little bit of your green thumb will come my way :) I'm eager to learn as much as I can.
    Happy weekend.
    Your blogging sister, Connie :)

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    1. One is never finished learning, Connie. Even after 55 years of gardening, I have a lot to learn!

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  10. oh my your seedlings look great. I am still deciding if I want to start seeds indoors this year or not...lol

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    1. Mrs. P., I hope the weather warms, because my seedling shelves are getting quite full! Soon I'll need them for peppers and tomatoes. I'm starting way more plants indoors than I have in the past.

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