Friday, May 22, 2009

The Spinach Blog - 2009 edition

Replacing my typical all over the place/what did I do today blog entries, I am going try something a little deeper today. This blog is all about spinach.

My 2008 garden notes mention spinach a few times. Here are the Highlights...
  • "You can never, never, never plant enough spinach. Next year we need to buy spinach seed by the truckload and plant it in every single early spring garden spot."
  • "It doesn't transplant worth a darn - don't you dare try to start spinach indoors next year."
The 2009 spinach season began on 12/30 with a one ounce order of Tyee Hybrid spinach seeds from RH Shumway. The description from the catalog: "An improved type with the earliest maturity and best disease resistance we offer. High tolerance to Downy Mildew. A semi-savory type that grows fast and is slow to bolt. Only 37 days to maturity."

Well I followed my 2008 advice on the first point (you can never plant enough), but ignored the second point (never start indoors) - and I'm glad I did on both counts. I started some spinach indoors in mid January and even nibbled on a few pre-salads made of alphalpa sprouts and spinach seedlings in early February. On the last day of February I transplanted 18 spinach seedlings outside in a cold frame. These seedlings held up fairly well, and did much better than the seeds I started directly in the cold frames. I began stealing leaves from these transplants for late winter salads as early as March 22nd. As for the quantity of spinach - We did much better in this area than we have ever done in the past. The key was an April 4th heavy spinach planting. Prior to this planting I had done small mini plantings in various square foot sections and mini-rows. The April 4th planting was big. I put approx 400 seeds in 1 1/2 of my sun garden raised beds. This planting yielded 4 large harvests of spinach for the freezer - on top of our various cut and come again succession plantings. On May 22nd I harvested the last major spinach crop. There remain just a couple odd spinach plants in our garden now. We ended up with 4 pounds (six one gallon freezer bags) of frozen spinach from the spring planting.

Other comments/lessons learned:
  1. Remember how the RH Shumway said that this Tyee Hybrid variety was resistant to downy mildew? Well - not resistant enough. Ours got it - it wasn't awful, but that was part of the reason I went ahead and harvested the full crop as early as I did.
  2. The spring spinach season is so darn short. I would have guessed my final harvest would have been late June not late May.
  3. I think Fall is the "true" season for spinach. I am really looking forward to a fall crop and harvesting some protected cold frame spinach all winter long. I bet that downy mildew and early bolt won't be problems in November.
  4. Will we eat 4 pounds of spinach this winter? If so how?

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