Spinach grows quite quickly; it prefers a well-draining soil with a neutral pH. Joseph Bukenya a vegetable farmer and grows spinach says spinach grows well if the seeds are spaced about a one-to-one foot.
“It is important to cover the seeds lightly with soil, firm in place and water well. Keep the soil moist until germination. Once the plants have grown their true leaves, you can begin to thin the plants to about six inches apart”, he says.
If the space is little, you can easily grow spinach in containers. Even a relatively small 10 to 12” pot or a window box will do.
“Plant as you would in the garden; however, you will need to water more frequently, since containers dry out faster”, Bukenya advises
According to Bukenya spinach is nutritious and there are two main types of spinach, that is, smooth leaf and savoy (crinkled leaf).
He says it is always important to test the soil nutrient level before planting because the pH should be maintained at 6.5 to 6.8.
Spinach is a cool-weather vegetable and can survive the first frost of temperate climates.
It germinates and grows optimally at temperatures between 4-16°C. However, it can withstand temperatures as low as -7C.
Bukenya says spinach grows best in well-draining loamy soil. Although it prefers full sun, spinach can still produce significantly in partial shade.
In hot weather, seeds germinate slowly or may fail to germinate completely.
Spinach is first raised in a nursery before transplanting into the main field. According to Bukenya prepare the nursery bed, a metre-wide against the required length. Drill seeds across the bed at a depth of about 1cm, cover seeds lightly with soil, and the nursery bed with a thin layer of dry grass (mulch). Water the nursery bed and seeds germinate within 5-7 days. Seedlings should be watered regularly.
Seedlings are ready for transplanting after 4-5 weeks, when with 3-4 leaves.
Transplanting should be done on a cloudy day or late in the evening when the sun is cool. This prevents root damages. To prevent transplanting shock, water can be sprayed to the transplants.
They should be spaced at 30cm to 45cm between rows and 15cm between the plants. This gives room for the leaves to reach full size.
When seedlings sprout to about 10 to 12cm, they should be thinned 8cm apart. This helps in reducing competition as well as ensuring sufficient air circulation within the crops.
Bukenya says farmers should know that weeds compete with this crop for growth factors like nutrients as well as they harbour pests. Spinach roots are shallow and easily damaged, care must be taken when weeding.
This helps to keep the soil moist and to suppress weeds.
Watering should be done regularly because spinach requires high levels of moisture.
Pests and control
Cutworms cut off the stems of young seedlings at ground level while wireworms feed on the foliage and roots.
Symptoms consist of poor seed germination, pre-emergence death of seedlings, post-emergence death of newly emerged seedlings, yellowed lower leaves, general poor growth, wilting, and eventual collapse and death of older plants.