I love spinach. I eat them raw as part of my salad, or stirfried in olive oil with some garlic. Spinach is a great source of vitamins A, B, C, and E as well as minerals, particularly folate, magnesium, iron, potassium and calcium. No wonder Popeye considers spinach as his main source of super energy.
Spinach is a cool weather plant so the best time to start sowing the seeds in a tropical zone like the Philippines is around November. Sprinkle a few tiny seeds directly into a medium sized container of about 5- 6 inches in depth. Cover them lightly with a thin layer of soil and then water the soil bed deeply. Keep the soil moist but not soggy and make sure to provide enough holes in the pot for the excess water to drain.
The seeds germinate in about 8 to 15 days. Seedlings grow very slowly at the start but as the cool December weather kicks in, they grow a lot faster. Thin out some of the weaker seedlings to allow more room for the healthier ones to grow. Spinach thrives well even with partial sunlight, i.e. around 3 – 4 hours of morning sun is sufficient. Fertilize once at the start of the growing stage with compost or organic matter. Water the plants occasionally with rice wash for that added lush.
To ensure a regular harvest, sow a few seeds every week, starting in November or as soon as the weather starts to drop below 30 degrees. Start harvesting in 45-60 days for the baby spinach (used in salads), or 60-75 days for more mature leaves (for stirfried spinach). To harvest, pull out the entire plant or cut the upper leafy portion. Do not wait too long before harvesting the leaves, or else the leaves and stem will turn hard and bitter.
Spinach leaves are prone to common pest attacks, particularly the leaf miner, locusts and garden slugs. I usually spray organic solutions once a week to manage these pests.