How to Grow Spinach from Seed to Harvest
You want to grow spinach in your garden or on your balcony? Great! Growing spinach is not only quite interesting, it is also not difficult at all if you know what you are doing.
In this article, I show you everything you need to know to grow spinach from seed to harvest in a step-by-step approach.
Moreover, I also give you some additional general helpful tips at the end of this article.
Additionally, I also embedded some videos in this article so that you get a more comprehensive picture of the overall topic and can also incorporate the ideas and opinions of other passionate gardeners.
Enough talk! Let’s get it growing! 😉
Spinach Plant Profile
|Size (Height, Spread)||8 to 11 inches tall and 5 to 12 inches wide.|
|Climate||Spinach grows best in moderate climatic zones with optimal temperatures between 50 and 70 degrees Fahrenheit.|
|Sun Exposure||Spinach loves the sun.|
|Soil Requirements||Spinach prefers slightly acidic to neutral soil with optimal pH ranging between 6.5 and 7.|
|Country of Origin||Iran.|
|Growing Difficulty||Easy. Even beginners can harvest decent spinach yields.|
|Perennial?||No, spinach is grown as an annual and therefore harvested in the first growing year.|
|When should you start?||You should start growing spinach in spring shortly before you don’t expect spring frost anymore.|
|Expected Yield & Harvest||20 to 40 spinach leaves per plant.|
|Time from Seed to Harvest||50 to 70 days to grow spinach from seed to harvest.|
|Pests & Diseases||Wireworms, Cutworms, Flea Beetles, Slugs, Lygus Bugs, Spider Mites.|
|What to do with it?||You can use your spinach for tasty salads, pasta or many other dishes.|
What Types and Varieties of Spinach can you grow?
While you might not know it, there are many different spinach varieties out there. I listed the most popular one for growing purposes below.
- Palco spinach
- Hammerhead spinach
- Regiment spinach
- Emperor spinach
- Acadia spinach
- Reflect spinach
- Tasman spinach
- Bloomsdale spinach
I personally love to grow the Bloomsdale spinach since it has a pretty good taste and also provides decent yields, you might have other preferences and I always recommend people to try out various different varieties.
Especially if this is your first spinach growing project, you should definitely try growing many different varieties so you can decide later on which variety works best for you for future years still to come.
Moreover, growing more than one spinach variety can also be much more interesting since you will grow plants with different shapes instead of just growing one single variety which looks the same over all plants.
Hence, just try out a handful of different spinach varieties for your first growing project.
You can also use a spinach seed mix if you are a person who loves surprises.
When should you start to grow Spinach?
You can start growing your spinach as early as the beginning of April in most regions with moderate climate.
In fact, I recommend you to start growing your spinach around 4 to 6 weeks before the last freeze.
However, since spinach will not need too much time to grow, you can also grow it later on in the year or you can even grow it multiple times a year.
For instance, you could grow one batch of spinach at the beginning of April and a later charge in mid of June.
Hence, you are quite flexible regarding when you want to start growing your spinach plants.
How long does it take to grow Spinach from Seed to Harvest?
It will take between 50 and 70 days to grow spinach from seed to harvest.
Please note that this also depends on the spinach variety you want to grow, on the overall climatic conditions, on the soil conditions you offer to your plants and also on your overall level of experience.
In fact, while an experienced gardener may be able to grow spinach in even less than 50 days, you may need more than 70 days as a beginner.
However, how long it actually takes you to grow spinach from seed to harvest is not that important.
Gardening is not about speed, it is about slowing down from your stressful daily life and about enjoying the process.
Hence, even though it might take quite a while for you to grow your own spinach from seed to harvest, don’t be disappointed.
Instead, love the process and stick with it!
What is the best Climate to grow Spinach?
While spinach usually grows best in moderate climatic zones, most spinach varieties are rather tolerant towards different climatic conditions.
Even though you might not live in the optimal climatic zone to grow spinach, you will still be able to get decent yields if you follow the steps in this article.
In fact, seed companies did a great job over the past decade to develop spinach varieties that will grow in almost all climatic zones.
What Temperatures do Spinach like?
Spinach grows best with temperatures between 50 and 70 degrees Fahrenheit. However, please note that this also depends on the respective spinach variety.
Moreover, although you might not be able to provide those optimal outside temperatures, don’t let this deter you from growing spinach.
Spinach grows in many different climatic zones and as long as you don’t live in the tropics or in regions where it is freezing all year long, you will just be good to grow 😉.
What do you need to grow Spinach?
While you don’t need much too grow spinach, there are still certain things I advise you to get to make your growing experience as enjoyable as possible which I listed below:
- Growing bed (to grow your seedlings)
- Flower pots (only necessary if you don’t have a garden to grow your spinach)
- Spinach seeds
- Fertilizer (you can make your own organic fertilizer for which I give you the instructions below)
- Potting soil
- Slug fence
- Watering can
- Garden shovel
- Compost (optional)
- Motivation for gardening 😉
What Yield can you expect when you grow Spinach?
You can expect between 20 and 40 leaves from each spinach plant. However, this greatly depends on the overall conditions you offered to your spinach plants and also on your individual skill level.
While an expert may be able to harvest many leaves per plant, you may just be able to harvest a few if you are starting out as a beginner.
However, don’t be discouraged about that. In fact, growing plants is not only about the yield, it is more about enjoying the growing process.
Consequently, don’t be disappointed if you will not harvest too many spinach leaves per plant in your first year of growing.
Chances are that you will get much better over time in future years and you should just stick to it and learn from your growing experiences.
What to plant with Spinach?
If you want to learn more about what plants you should grow with spinach, make sure to check out the best and worst spinach companion plants.
Why should you grow your own Spinach?
This is a quite good question. You have to put in plenty of effort and also have to get some equipment to grow spinach.
Hence, it will not only be more exhausting to grow your own spinach, it will often also not make sense from a monetary perspective. So, why exactly should you bother with growing your own spinach?
First, as mentioned before, growing your own plants is not mainly about the yield, it is about loving the process.
In fact, if you don’t love gardening, it doesn’t make too much sense to grow your own spinach at all.
Gardening should be a nice hobby for you and it should not feel like work at all.
Second, by growing your own spinach, you no longer have to rely on the spinach from your grocery store.
In fact, many plants you can buy from conventional grocery stores are contaminated with pesticides and herbicides, which can be detrimental for our health in the long run.
Thus, if you want to eat as healthy as possible, growing your own spinach at home can also help you in this regard.
Third, growing spinach can also greatly reduce your overall stress level. In fact, when I grow my own plants, I can unplug from my stressful daily life and can just free my mind.
Consequently, if you are stressed as well and going to the gym or other sports don’t work to lower your stress level, try growing your own plants at home!
Fourth, growing spinach at home can also bring you back to the roots. In fact, our ancestors have grown their own food in their garden for many hundreds of years and in order to get this original feeling, you may want to grow your own vegetables as well to reconnect to nature.
As you can see, there are several reasons why you should grow your own spinach at home, even though it might not make sense from a financial perspective.
Growing Spinach: Step-by-Step
1. Select a Site for your Spinach Plants
I hope you get excited about growing spinach and about the related benefits as well.
If so, let’s move on to the actual planning process for growing your spinach.
The first thing we have to decide is where to plant our spinach.
In fact, site selection is pretty important to grow your spinach in an optimal manner.
In the following, I answer many important questions in this regard.
Does Spinach like Sun or Shade?
Spinach plants love the sun. Hence, make sure that you choose a pretty sunny spot in your garden to grow your spinach.
Please note that we are always talking about optimal conditions.
If you don’t have a garden where your plants get sun all day long, you can still grow spinach.
Thus, just choose the sunniest spot you can provide for your spinach plants at home and you are good to go.
What are the Soil Requirements of Spinach?
Spinach plants like rather neutral soil conditions with a pH of 6.5 to 7 (7 means neither alkaline nor acidic).
Therefore, it is not difficult to provide your spinach plant with optimal soil conditions since you just have to get some potting soil from the store and you can mix it with the soil from your garden.
If you want to further improve the soil structure, you can also add some compost to the soil.
Make sure that your soil mix is loose enough and that your growing site will also be well-drained so that the roots of your spinach plants will not rot.
How much Space do Spinach Plants need?
Spinach plants stay relatively small and therefore, they don’t need too much space to develop in a healthy manner.
Make sure that you plan around 2 square feet for each spinach plant and you are good to go.
Of course, if you have a big garden and more than enough space, you can provide your spinach plants with even more space.
In fact, the more space you provide to your plants, the better they will grow.
Thus, the 2 square feet mentioned above are only an average and if you have more space, just give your plants more space so that they can grow in an optimal manner.
Should you plant Spinach in a Pot or in your Garden?
Both options are perfectly fine. Since spinach plants will stay quite small, you can simply use a moderately sized pot and you can grow your spinach in there.
However, please note that each spinach plant will only produce a rather limited number of leaves and if you plant spinach in a pot, you will not be able to grow significant amounts of spinach.
Hence, if you are really serious about your spinach growing project and you want to produce spinach for many months, you should rather rely on growing your spinach plants in your garden instead of using pots.
2. Plant Spinach Seeds
Now that you know where you want to plant your spinach, it is time to discuss the actual seeding process.
Should you buy Spinach Seeds or Seedlings?
You first have to decide whether you want to grow spinach seedlings from your garden center or grow spinach seedlings yourself. I would suggest you grow your own spinach seedlings due to various reasons.
Some garden centers do not even offer spinach seedlings to you since it is simply not economical for them and the demand for it is quite low.
Moreover, if you just buy seedlings from a store, you will miss out on an important step in the overall growth process.
In fact, only if you grow your spinach plants from seed to harvest, you will get the full growing experience.
Moreover, once you learned how to grow seedlings, you can transfer this knowledge and use it for various other growing projects.
Hence, just try to produce your own spinach seedlings.
After all, it is not hard to do at all and I show you exactly how to do it step-by-step in the following chapters.
Should you buy Spinach Seeds or produce Seeds by yourself?
While you know that you should produce your own spinach seedlings, the next question is where you can get your seeds from. I often recommend producing your own seeds if possible.
However, in the case of spinach, you will not be able to extract those seeds if you have never grown spinach plants before.
Thus, for growing spinach, just order some spinach seeds online or get them from your local garden store.
You can also find the spinach seeds that I recommend in the equipment section of this article above.
How to plant Spinach Seeds
Now that you got your spinach seeds, it is time to really get into the actual growth process.
While you could directly plant your seedlings outside in your garden, I would not recommend it since your small seedlings will be quite vulnerable and many of them will die off.
Instead, I would suggest you use a growing bed and grow your spinach seedlings inside.
For that, you just need to fill your growing bed with potting soil from your local garden center and place your spinach seeds onto the soil.
Make sure that you leave at least 3 inches of space between each spinach seed so that your seedlings can grow in an optimal manner.
After placing your seeds, make sure to cover them with an additional layer of soil of around 1 inch in height. Finally, just water your growing bed and you are done with this step.
Make sure that you raise your spinach seedlings at a bright spot inside your home so that you can optimize the germination rate of your seeds.
Also make sure that you water your growing bed on a regular basis. In fact, if your growing bed dries out at this stage, chances are that your seedlings will just die off even if they are still below the soil surface.
Also note that not all seeds will germinate and that you should plant about 2 times as many spinach seeds as you need seedlings to be sure to reach your goal.
How long does it take to see the first Spinach Seedlings?
After you planted your seeds, you can expect to see the first results after around one week.
However, please note that it can also take a little bit longer, depending on the spinach variety you want to grow and also on the location you have chosen to grow your seedlings at your home.
After about one month, I would no longer expect any additional seedlings reaching the soil surface.
Hence, if you haven’t produced enough seedlings at this point, this means that many seeds have rotted in the soil and you may want to plant additional seeds if you need more seedlings.
How to protect your Spinach Seedlings
Since you will leave your growing bed with your spinach seedlings inside your four walls for the first weeks, you will not have to protect them in any significant way since they will not be a target for snails and other animals as long as they stay inside.
However, if you have pets, make sure that your pets will not be able to reach your growing bed.
When should you transplant your Spinach Seedlings?
While growing your spinach seedlings inside your four walls can make quite a lot of sense, it will be time at a certain point to transplant your seedlings outside to your garden or to a pot.
However, before I recommend you to transplant your seedlings outdoors, make sure that your spinach seedlings will have a certain minimum height.
In fact, if they are too small, they will be too vulnerable and too many of them may die off.
Hence, I recommend you to wait until your spinach seedlings reach a minimum height of at least 4 feet.
Also make sure that the outside climatic conditions are right before you transplant your seedlings.
Right means that temperatures should no longer drop below the freezing mark. If both criteria are met, feel free to transplant your seedlings.
Before you do so, you have to prepare your planting site in your garden. Just dig one hole of around 2 square feet per plant that is around half a foot deep.
After that, mix the soil from your garden with potting soil. You can also add some compost to your soil mix. After you created a healthy soil mix, just fill up those holes with the soil mix.
After that, just transplant each seedling on each spot and you are done.
If you want to grow your spinach in a pot instead of the garden, just fill your flower pot with soil and transplant your seedlings there.
Finally, make sure to water your seedlings and you are good to go.
What kind of Protection do Spinach Seedlings need outdoor?
While your seedlings had been quite safe indoors, they will have to deal with much harsher conditions outdoors.
In fact, make sure to protect your spinach seedlings against snails so that you don’t wake up one day and ask yourself where all your seedlings have been gone. 😉
However, instead of using chemical substances to protect your spinach seedlings, I recommend you to use a snail fence in order to protect our environment as best as possible.
3. The Spinach Growth Process
While the hardest part and the majority of the manual work has already been done at this stage, there are still some things to consider for growing your spinach plants in an optimal manner.
Should you prune your Spinach Plants?
Some people ask me whether it is necessary to prune spinach plants. The answer is a straight:
No! In fact, if you prune your spinach plants, you do much more harm than good to them.
Remember that you will harvest the actual plant material of your spinach plants.
Hence, if you prune your spinach plants, you throw away part of your harvest.
Thus, never prune your spinach plants since it just makes no sense at all.
Do you have to pollinate your Spinach Plants by Hand?
You also don’t have to pollinate your spinach plants. Just let nature do its work and you will be good to go.
How to stake your Spinach Plants
There is also no need for staking your spinach plants. In fact, spinach stays quite compact and will also not grow too big.
Hence, it will be able to protect itself against winds and other weather conditions.
If you really want to add even further protection, you could use bamboo sticks, anchor them in the soil and tie your spinach plants with cord on it.
However, es mentioned before, it is not necessary to stake or stabilize your spinach plants and I would not take the effort to do so.
4. The Spinach Harvest
I hope you followed all the steps mentioned before. If you did, chances are that you will be able to enjoy decent spinach harvests.
When should you harvest your Spinach?
Harvesting spinach is quite easy. In fact, it is also quite simple to determine when the optimal time to harvest your spinach has come.
You just have to wait until your spinach leaves are big enough and harvest them at this point in time.
Please note that you should not harvest all of your spinach leaves at the same time since some leaves will be ready to harvest while some leaves will still need time to grow.
Hence, harvesting spinach is not done in one day, it is a project that can take some weeks.
How to store your Spinach?
While it is difficult to store spinach in your fridge or somewhere around your home since it quickly loses vitamins and its taste, you can still freeze your spinach leaves.
This works quite fine and frozen spinach will taste almost as good as fresh spinach.
Thus, if you don’t want to eat your spinach right after the harvest, don’t wait for a few days.
Wash it and put it in the freezer immediately.
What should you do with your Spinach?
You can cook so many different dishes with spinach. I personally love to make pasta with spinach, cream, onions, garlic, olive oil and parmesan.
However, you can also make spinach lasagna or many other dishes. Feel free to do whatever you want to with your spinach.
After all, you are the one who has put in all the effort! 😉
Spinach Plant Care Tips
I’ve already shown you all the steps you need to take to grow your spinach from seed to harvest in an optimal manner.
However, some general information is still missing in this spinach grower’s guide which I provide you with in the following.
How often should you irrigate Spinach?
You should water your spinach on a regular basis. Since spinach plants will not grow too big, they also don’t need too much water.
However, make sure that they never completely dry out. If you are not sure whether you should water your spinach plants or not, just dig a small hole with your finger into the soil next to your spinach plants. Get your finger back out of the hole.
If soil sticks to your finger, the soil is still wet enough and you don’t have to irrigate your spinach plants. If no soil sticks to your finger, it’s time to water your plants.
Of course, you don’t have to use this small trick anymore after you get more experienced.
Spinach growing experts see whether their plants need water or not just from their visual appearance.
Hence, over time, you will know intuitively when it is time to water your plants.
At what Time of the Day should you water your Spinach Plants?
Some experts claim that the best time to water your spinach is in the early morning.
However, I personally haven’t found any difference between watering in the morning, at lunchtime or at nighttime.
Just make sure that you provide sufficient water for your spinach plants and you are good to go.
How often should you fertilize your Spinach Plants?
Since spinach plants stay rather small and you already provided a healthy soil mix for them, you will not need to add additional fertilizer during the growth process.
In fact, many beginners make the mistake to use too much fertilizer which can hurt the roots of your plants and you can therefore do much more harm than good by adding additional fertilizer.
What kind of Fertilizer should you use for your Spinach Plants?
If you really want to add additional fertilizer due to various reasons, make sure that you don’t use chemical fertilizer but that you rather rely on natural fertilizer instead since it will be much better for your soil as well as for the environment.
You can either buy natural fertilizer from an online store or make your own fertilizer.
In fact, producing your own natural fertilizer is pretty simple.
Just collect some stinging nettles (I recommend using gloves 😉) and put them in a bucket full of cold water.
After a few days, remove the stinging nettles and you will have a great fertilizer for your plants.
Should you use Pesticides or Herbicides for Growing Spinach?
The good thing about stinging nettle liquid is that you can not only use it as fertilizer, but you can also use it as pesticide.
In fact, many pests do not like the taste at all and if you spray some stinging nettle liquid onto your spinach leaves from time to time, chances are that you will be able to protect your plants from most pests.
There will also not be any need to use chemical herbicides.
In fact, just remove weeds by hand and you are good to go.
If you want to get even more information about spinach pest control, you should also have a look at my article on how to control spinach pests and diseases in your garden.
What’s left to say?
First of all, I am really grateful if you read the whole article. I know that it was a pretty long spinach grower’s guide.
However, I wanted to provide you with all the information you need to grow spinach from seed to harvest. I hope you enjoyed this article and that it was helpful to you.
If so, make sure to share it with your family and friends so that they can also enjoy a nice spinach growing experience 😉.
If you want to get even more information about growing spinach at home, make sure to check out my growing spinach FAQ section.
About the author
My name is Andreas and I’m really passionate about our environment and also about growing plants. In fact, I have grown several different plants over many years. I love to see my own plants grow and always try new things.
In my blog posts, I want to share my experiences with you so that you can become successful in growing various different plants, even if you are still a beginner right now.