Survivalist, are you looking for an easy crop to grow that is packed with nutrients? Look no further than spinach. Spinach is easy to grow, and easy to harvest.
Chances are seeds will be sold at the local farm supply store by the ounce. This provides the opportunity to stockpile seeds in bulk. Most of the spinach seeds in my stockpile are giant noble.
Several years ago I grew a crop of giant noble spinach in horse manure. Just a couple of pots kept us in a good supply for a couple of months. One of the nice things about stockpiling spinach seeds, they are small and do not take up a lot of room. This means thousands of seeds can be stockpiled in a small amount of space.
Spinach has to be replanted every year. This is also known as an annual plant. Even though Spinach may need to be replanted every year, it might survive over winter in temperate regions.
Spinach germinates best if the seeds are soaked in water, or between wet rags for at least 24 hours before planting. Best results for germination may occur if the seeds are soaked for 3 – 5 days, or until the seed starts to sprout.
Soaking The Seeds
Place the seeds into a bowl and fill the bowl with water until the seeds are covered. The next day remove any seeds that might be floating. Seeds that are floating are less likely to sprout.
Drain the water from the bowl. It helps if a strainer is used to separate the water and the seeds. Once the spinach seeds have been removed from the water, take them outside and plant them.
Use a cookie sheet, or a pizza sheet – place a small cloth towel in the bottom of the sheet then spread the Spinach seeds on the top of the towel. Space the seeds at least 1/4 – 1/2 inch apart. Pour enough water over the towel to make it wet. Cover the seeds with a second towel. Then pour enough water over the second towel to make it wet. Over the next few days keep the towels moist.
As the Spinach seeds are being planted, space them 1/2 inch deep and 2 – 4 inches apart. The area where the seeds are to be planted should get at least 6 hours of full sun light everyday. The soil should be loose and well drained. Before planting the seeds, some type of compost (such as manure) should be worked into the soil to about 4 – 6 inches deep.
The types of fertilizer that should be used is – 19-5-9, 16-6-12, or even 21-0-0 later in the year. The rows should be about 2 feet apart. Spinach is very dependent on nitrogen for proper growth. If the soil is low on nitrogen content, the seeds may sprout, but the plants will not grow more then a few inches tall.
A fast release fertilizer may give quick growth, but will give poor leaf development later in the season. When looking for commercial grade fertilizer, the first number is the nitrogen content. The higher the nitrogen content, the more leaf development the spinach plant will have.
To ensure a continuous crop of Spinach, plant seeds every 10 days through mid-spring. This will help ensure that the Spinach matures at different times. The seeds may take up to 2 weeks to sprout in cold weather. Harvesting is done by removing the older outer leaves. This stimulates the plant to produce more leaves, which in turn ensures a continuous supply of spinach leaves.
Spinach has a large nutritional value, especially when fresh, steamed, or quickly boiled. It is a rich source of vitamin A, vitamin C, vitamin E, vitamin K, magnesium, and several vital antioxidants. Recently, opioid peptides called rubiscolins have also been found in spinach. It is a source of folic acid (Vitamin B9), and this vitamin was first purified from spinach. To benefit from the folate in spinach, it is better to steam it than to boil it. Boiling spinach for four minutes can cut the level of folate in half.
Types of Spinach
There are two primary types of Spinach – older and modern varieties.
The older varieties tend to bolt (go to seed) too early in warm conditions. The older varieties also have narrower leaves and tend to have a stronger and more bitter taste.
Newer varieties tend to grow more rapidly but have less of an inclination to run up to seed (bolt). Most newer varieties have broader leaves and round seeds.
The 3 Basic Types of Spinach
From WikiBooks – Spinach.
- Savoy has dark green, crinkly and curly leaves. It is the type sold in fresh bunches in most supermarkets. One heirloom variety of savoy is Bloomsdale, which is somewhat resistant to bolting.
- Flat/smooth leaf spinach has broad smooth leaves that are easier to clean than savoy. This type is often grown for canned and frozen spinach, as well as soups, baby foods, and processed foods.
- Semi-savoy is a hybrid variety with slightly crinkled leaves. It has the same texture as savoy, but it is not as difficult to clean. It is grown for both fresh market and processing. Five Star is a widely grown variety and has good resistance to running up to seed.
To harvest the spinach, take a pair of scissors and cut the leaves off the stems.