Homegrown spinach is such a culinary delight, nothing like supermarket spinach, which is so coarse and dirty and has gotten that unfortunate reputation for food poisoning. If you live near me, in central New Jersey, don’t bother planting spinach now.  My spinach has bolted, and is done.  The heat waves that we have been having this spring have cut short spinach’s spring season.  I have been trying for years to grow spinach in the spring and I can never get it to grow enough before it bolts.  Eliot Coleman, in his book The Winter Harvest Handbook, says that spinach is their most dependable winter and early spring crop.  How do they do it?  They start it in the early fall in cold frames and hoop houses and get good growth before the day shortens too much for plants to grow.  I tried to plant it last summer, for a fall crop, but I had terrible germination.  Later I read in Organic Gardening Magazine that this is a common problem, because spinach seeds don’t germinate well in hot weather.  This link gives some very specific tips for solving this problem.  http://www.organicgardening.com/feature/0,7518,s1-5-16-1188,00.html

I did manage to get some spinach seeds to germinate late last fall, and they were about an inch high with about 3 leaves by the time the day length was too short for any new growth.  In my cold frame they just sat throughout the entire winter, and then they started growing again in early February.  They definitely were bigger than any of the ones that I planted in the spring.  We did manage to harvest some spinach leaves throughout the spring, and had a big bowl of it when it had just started bolting and I pulled it all out.  It was a bit bitter, but we ate it anyway.  I won’t give up because I love homegrown spinach.  Hopefully I can get it together enough at the end of the summer to try the tips from Organic Gardening.  I’ll let you know how it goes.

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