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poison free gardening, Victoria BC, growing fall spinach


 

Growing Fall Spinach

Tyee spinach

From the beginning of August until the middle of October, we can sow several kinds of spinach outdoors, for an all but year-round supply of fresh, nutritious and very tasty greens - and ever so important for the full range of the 72 natural trace elements in our daily nutrition. Also great for the empty spaces left in the garden after other vegetables have been harvested. Spinach is a cool weather crop and is ideal for our long spring, long fall, and mild winters.

Like all leafy vegetables, spinach requires a nitrogen-rich fertilizer. A handful (1/2 cup) of blood meal, Canola seed meal, or composted chicken manure per yard, lightly worked into the soil under the seeds, will make all the difference. Also make sure that your soil pH is near neutral; between 6.5 and 6.9 is ideal.

Again, and to reduce the need for weeding the newly seeded rows, lay down wide strips of newspaper, 4 to 6 pages thick, between the seeded rows, leaving only a 3 centimeter (1") wide 'open' strip over the seeded space. The newspaper will slowly decay and add its organic content to the soil. Follow with a seaweed or garden weed mulch over what's left of the newspaper mulch as soon as the seedling have grown sufficiently tall. One of the many, many benefits of the mulch is also that it keeps the spinach leaves off the ground, as well as keeping rain-spluttered mud of the leaves later in the season. You just can't beat a mulch anyway you look at it.

Sow 1/2 inch (1 cm) deep and 1 inch (2 cm) apart in rows about 1 foot (30 cm) apart. Thin to 3 to 4 inches (8 to 10 cm) apart the row. Larger spacing results in fewer but larger plants. Side-dress lightly with high-nitrogen fertilizer about once a month to stimulate growth and soil biota activity in cool weather.

Bloomsdale Savoy is a savoyed variety with thick and succulent dark green leaves, and sweet, rich, tasty flavour great in fresh salads or cooked. In well-drained soil, so things won't get soggy in our wet winters, it will overwinter here and produce very early in spring.

Tyee, pictured above, is a robust semisavoyed spinach with thick and juicy dark green leaves and excellent flavour, great in fresh salads and cooked. Its robust and hardy nature allows more winter picking of leaves than any other kind of spinach.

Olympia is a deep green, plain leaf spinach with big leaves - the kind most often seen in supermarkets. It can be sown and harvested year-round in our climate and is one of the fastest growing kinds of spinach. Excellent cooked and great in fresh salads.

Skokum, also a fast grower with dark green and semisavoyed leaves, has an especially clean and crisp flavour which is superb in fresh salads and great cooked. Also over winters here nicely, providing fresh and very healthy greens throughout fall, winter and spring.

With all these varieties to chose from, we can have deliciously fresh and supremely healthy greens the year round, and no further away than the few steps to the garden.



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