Spinach is not only full of flavour, but full of goodness too. Spinach is high in iron, Vitamin A, Vitamin c and low in categories. What most of us eat as spinach is usually “Swiss Chard” because it is:
- Much more available.
- Easier to grow.
- Heat tolerant and
- More productive.
Spinach and Swiss Chard are among the easiest vegetables to grow. They germinate easily, don’t take up much space and are easy to harvest. However, they are gross feeders and need regular feeding to be a great success.
Spinach seeds germinate at 2°C to 30°C. However, 7°C to 24°C is optimum. Seeds will not germinate well in warm weather. Although spinach will grow in temperatures ranging from 5° to 24°C, growth is more rapid at 15° to 18°C.
The plant requires a constant and uniform supply of water in order to obtain a good crop of high quality. During spinach production, the soil should never be allowed to dry out. Spinach requires plenty of water, although the soil should have good drainage.
Spinach grows well on a variety of soils, although fertile, sandy loams with a high organic matter content is preferred. Spinach is particularly sensitive to saturated soil conditions and to acidity. The optimum soil pH is 6.2 to 6.9.
Before planting, prepare and enrich the soil with generous amounts of organics as well as bone meal for root development.
- Spinach and Swiss Chard can be sown in situ. Swiss Chard can also be sown in seed trays as it transplants better than spinach.
- Keep the soil moist during germination – which takes about 5 days.
- Seedlings should be spaced, or thinned out, to about 20cm apart.
- Feed with a liquid fertilizer about 2 weeks after germination and at least once a month after that..
Plants should be spaced 10 – 20 cm apart in rows that are 30cm apart. This equates to about 160 000+ plants per hectare. Commercial growers that harvest mechanically plant closer together at 15cm by 25cm giving the grower 250 000+ plants per hectare.
Harvesting of the first outer leaves can begin at 60 to 70 days from planting. To ensure longer production periods and higher yields spinach needs Nitrogen in the soil throughout its growing period.
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