How to grow spinach
Find out how to grow your own spinach for leafy, healthy pickings, in this practical Grow Guide.
Spinach is high in nutrients and is fast and easy to grow as a cut-and-come again ‘baby-leaf’ vegetable or for larger leaves.
It can be grown all year round if you choose the right varieties and works well in containers too. It tastes delicious when wilted in the pan or as young fresh leaves in a salad.
How to grow spinach
Grow spinach in moist but well-drained soil or compost in partial shade. Sow seeds in a shallow moist drill and cover lightly with soil. Sow spinach successionally every few weeks to ensure a continuous crop. Harvest baby leaves for use in salads or mature leaves to wilt for use in soups and stews.
More on growing spinach:
How to sow spinach seeds
Make a shallow drill in well-prepared, fertile soil in a sunny spot and sow your spinach seeds thinly, approximately 1.5cm deep. Cover seeds with soil and water well. If sowing in rows sow 40cm apart. Cover with cloches or protection if the weather is still cool. Sow a batch every three to four weeks for a regular supply through the growing season.
In this video clip from Gardeners' World, Monty Don explains how to sow spinach, beetroot and chard seeds and then look after the crops over the coming weeks:
How to care for spinach
Spinach thrives in fertile soil that doesn't easily dry out. In hot weather, set up temporary shade for your spinach crop to stop the soil drying out and the crop bolting (running to seed).
After thinning your sowings to 15cm apart, the most important thing is to keep your spinach well watered. For sowings later in the year, protect your spinach seedlings with fleece or a cloche for a supply through the winter months.
Growing spinach: problem solving
Protect young spinach seedlings from slugs, snails and birds. Spinach is also prone to downy mildew, which is worse in humid weather. Mildew-resistant varieties are available but the best method of prevention is good spacing around plants to help the air to circulate, and to target your watering at the base of the plants.
Check out these tips on stopping slugs from eating young plants.
How to harvest spinach
Spinach is ready to harvest 6-10 weeks after sowing. As a general rule, you can pick summer varieties from May to October and winter ones between October and April. But keep an eye on your crop as spinach usually grows quicker in warmer weather. Cutting back to just above the base of the plant can encourage more leaves to grow for a second crop.
More like this
Looking for inspiration on how to use your crop? Our friends at olive have curated a delicious collection of spinach recipes, including a vibrant pea, spinach and crab risotto.
How to store spinach
Spinach is best eaten fresh when it's highest in nutrients. But it can be frozen for later use in soups and omelettes – there's no need to blanch the leaves.
Spinach is a good crop to grow in between beans, peas or sweetcorn if you only have a small growing space. But it's important to move your spinach crops around your vegetable plot as the spores of downy mildew can remain in the soil and will re-infect your crop.
Spinach varieties to grow
- ‘Medania’ RHS AGM – a good, healthy spinach variety, producing lots of dark green leaves with a soft texture and good flavour whether eaten as a baby leaf or mature crop
- ‘Perpetual’ – a good variety that doesn't bolt easily and will grow on drier soils. Good for summer, autumn and winter crops
- ‘Apollo’ – this variety gives a good yield with leaves that taste good either as a baby leaf crop or when mature. Good bolt-resistance and good in containers
- ‘Palco’ RHS AGM – a mildew-resistant variety that’s slow to bolt
- ‘Atlanta’ RHS AGM – a hardy, winter variety that produces a good crop of leaves