It’s hearing the name and that disproportionate forearm cartoon with a tattooed anchor and a girlfriend like a spaghetti comes to mind asking for help from her hero. But more than that, it is a crop that we can have in our garden, the result of which is a leaf with good nutritional qualities, but not miraculous as we were led to believe. Let’s see what we can do to be successful in this delicate crop.
THE FATAL MISTAKE IN A COMA AND THE FALSE MYTH OF IRON
We have always had the concept in mind that spinach was a vegetable with a high iron content.
Nothing is further from reality. At the end of the 19th century, a scientist published results in which he showed that the iron content of spinach was very high, which is why the Popeye cartoon acquired a tremendous superforce.
It took 60 years to discover that there was a typing error in the publication. The error was as simple as moving a comma one place by multiplying the iron content result by 10.
The cultural and social impact due to this mistake was so brutal that spinach consumption soared to unthinkable levels.
For much of the 20th century, the abundant iron contribution of this vegetable has been believed. Imagine if the impact was so great that in Crystal City, Texas, considered the spinach capital of the world , they erected a statue to their hero.
I can’t imagine how much money they would make from that mistake with growing spinach.
CLIMATIC NEEDS OF SPINACH CULTIVATION
The normal thing is that it is a crop of spring, autumn and even winter. They are resistant to frost , with certain limits. If the frost lasts too long, foliar burns can occur. Still it prefers cold temperatures (around 10ºc on average).
We are used, for example, to the germination temperatures for plants in general being medium high. Spinach has its optimum germination rate around 5ºC. Its weak point, the heat and the long days of light .
These cause it to stop its vegetative phase and pass to the flowering period. It is usually the most common problem when growing them. In any case, there are varieties resistant to heading so we can grow it in hot periods if we wish.
WHAT TYPE OF SOIL IS NEEDED FOR GROWING SPINACH?
It is a bit demanding with the ground. You need deep, aerated soil, loose, but not too draining and rich in organic matter. In poor soils we get a spinach with bitter flavors.
It will not do well in acidic soil , even slightly.
AND HOW MUCH DO I HAVE TO WATER?
Irrigation should be frequent in the spinach crop. We need to have a moist soil almost constantly. A couple of days ago we talked about radishes and possible associations . Spinach goes great with radishes, so it can be an ideal combination, since the irrigation and soil needs are very even.
DIRECT SOWING OR SEEDBED. IT’S UP TO YOU
It can be sown in both ways. As the germination temperature is low, we do not need a protected seedbed to ensure optimal germination.
It can be done in a seedbed if you want, or you live in cold areas where prolonged frosts are frequent.
The sowing depth will be about 2.5 cm and the spacing will vary from 10 to 30 cm depending on the variety.
Staggered plantings can be made to have spinach frequently, although it is not a vegetable that we tend to eat very often.
One way to have spinach when you want and not be forced to eat and eat eat, is to plant them as green manure or mulch. When desired, leaves are cut and that’s it.
In any case, we recommend alternating legumes with spinach if it is used as green manure due to its nitrogen consumption.
There are endless varieties , more resistant to spiky, winter, summer, curly, smooth, babyleaf or small-leaf spinach. We leave you some:
- Savoy or curly leaf: very rustic, curly leaf. It is usually sold fresh
- Semi-Savoy: It is a mixture between the previous one and those of smooth leaf. Less curly and perhaps more appreciated for easy cleaning compared to the Savoy.
- Summer varieties: Cleanleaf, King of Denmark, Bloomsdale
- Winter varieties: Monnopa, Sigmaleaf
Nowadays it is very common to see tender spinach shoots in fourth range salads, with very showy varieties that give color to the whole, like the one you have in the main photo of the red petiole post.