Spinacia - Spinach
DESCRIPTION: This plant is a very popular vegetable known as Spinach. Its tender, dark green leaves are great in salads and cooked. Described below is the common garden Spinach (S. oleracea). There are two other plants often grown in place of Spinach. These are Malabar Spinach and New Zealand Spinach (Basella Alba and Tetragonia tetragonioides, respectively.). Spinach grows quickly and loves cool weather. This annual forms clumps of long-stemmed leaves that can grow up to 12 inches long and 18 inches wide at maturity, but Spinach is usually harvested earlier. The main differences among Spinach hybrids and open-pollinated varieties are in their resistance to bolting and diseases, leaf texture and how fast they mature.
POTTING: Spinach need rich, moist soil and cool weather to grow well. Leaf-miner damage can be serious, so watch for signs of burrowing between the top and bottom layers of leaves, and for dead leaves. Pull off affected leaves and throw in the trash; don't place in a compost heap. The outer leaves may be snapped off or the whole plant may be sheared off 3 to 4 inches above the ground. When the center stem begins to elongate, the plant is starting to bolt; pull and eat the entire plant.
PROPAGATION: Spinach won't last very long in warm weather, so plant seeds very early in the spring and again in early autumn after very hot weather is over. Before planting, wash the seeds in detergent, rinse thoroughly in a tea strainer and blot them dry. They should be spaced 3 to 6 inches apart in raised beds as soon as the soil can be worked in the spring. In regions with cool summers, a crop may be made 2 weeks after the first. Anywhere else, second plantings usually bolt before the leaves are large enough to consume. Wait until late summer to plant again, or fall, where winters are mild. To figure out the latest date to safely plant your Spinach, count back 45 days from the average date of the first fall frost. Temperatures below 20 degrees Fahrenheit will kill Spinach.
VARIETIES: S. oleracea. Melody, Tyee, Indian Summer, Avon, Dixie Market for the Southeast.
Avon Hybrid Spinach
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