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Discover Spinach

Here’s the chance for you to discover some of the basic facts about spinach as well as some essential growing tips. Use these to decide whether you want to grow the vegetable, whether you are able to and what you need to do or look out for in order to grow a bountiful crop!

Spinach Fact Sheet
Other names: Spinacea oleracea
Appearance: The leaves are alternate, simple, ovate to triangular and variable in size from about 2 to 30 cm, with larger leaves at the base of the plant and small leaves higher on the flowering stem. The flowers are yellow-green and grow into a cluster containing several seeds.
Popular varieties: Bloomsdale, Palco and Primo as they are slow to bolt, Viroflay, Giant Noble, Tyee Hybrid
Interesting fact: A long-lasting myth surrounds the higher iron content of spinach compared to other green vegetables. The source behind the myth was a study from the 1930s which misplaced a decimal point and thus made it appear as though spinach contained ten times as much iron as it really did.
Nutritional value: Spinach is an excellent source of vitamin K, vitamin A, manganese, folate, magnesium, iron, copper, vitamin B2, vitamin B6, vitamin E, calcium, potassium and vitamin C. It is a very good source of dietary fibre, phosphorus, vitamin B1, zinc, protein and choline
When to grow: Sow seeds of summer cultivars every few weeks from February (under fleece or cloches), or outdoors from mid-March to the end of May. Sow winter cultivars in August and again in September
Likes: Spinach prefers rich soil so before sowing, improve the soil by digging in up to two bucketfuls per square metre of well-rotted organic matter such as garden compost and raking in 150g per square metre of general fertiliser such as Growmore
Dislikes: Spinach downy mildew attacks only spinach and is worst in mild, humid weather. Well grown plants in gardens are not usually badly affected except in wet weather. The mildew makes the leaves unappetising. You can help to prevent this disease by leaving plenty of space around plants to improve air circulation, watering the soil at the base of the plants and by choosing mildew resistant varieties
Watch out for: Slugs, snails, flea beetles, aphids and leaf miners can attack spinach
Harvest time: Harvest the leaves continually once they're large enough to pick, this will encourage the plant to grow more leaves. Baby leaves will appear after 2 weeks and mature leaves after 10-12 weeks
Cooking tips: Eat raw in a salad or as a side dish or boil or steam to eat hot.
Essential Growing Tips for Runner Beans
> Improving Soil / Feeding - To prevent the leaves tasting bitter make sure the soil is rich and contains plenty of organic matter.
> Guide to sowing and planting - Varieties such as Organic F1 Primo Seeds will start producing edible baby leaves after just two weeks, and plants will mature in around 10 to 12 weeks. You can keep spinach on the menu for most of the year as March to July sowings can be harvested right through to late autumn - and use protection in the form of cloches and fleece for seeds sown in November through to early spring. Thin seedlings to 7.5cm (3in) apart when large enough to handle. A few weeks later harvest every alternative plant for use in the kitchen. Keep well watered during dry periods in summer
> Problems - Spinach is prone to bolting caused by the daylight hours increasing during summer. It does not like hot conditions either, so choose a variety that is resistant to bolting and pick a shady position in which to grow. To avoid bolting ensure the soil or compost in pots is kept moist, especially during hot, dry spells. Using a temporary shade screen or sheets of shading material will help during very sunny weather.
> Havesting and Storage - Summer cultivars: pick between late May and the end of October. Winter cultivars: pick between October and April. Place loose spinach in a plastic bag in the fridge to store, avoid washing before storage. Keeps for 3-4 days. Spinach can be frozen, if blanched for 1 minute first and then laid out on a flat tray in the freezer for 30 mins to avoid leaves sticking together. Spinach can then be bagged and frozen for 3 months

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