Spinach "Butterflay" (EN)
Help your September plants grow tall and strong.
At a glance:
- Germination Temperature: 6–20 °C
- Germination Time: 7–14 Tage
- Direct sowing outdoors / in pots: March – April, September – October
- Location: sunny to partially shaded
- Loose, nutrient-rich soil
- Root depth: 30 cm
- Row spacing: 20 cm
- Distance between plants: 10 cm
- Seed depth: 3 cm
- Perfect as a pre-culture or following crop
- Harvest: April – June and October – December
- Harvest the leaves of a plant completely
Have you always wondered how you can keep your empty plant beds and pots green after the summer harvest in Autumn? The answer is as simple as it is delicious: spinach!
Spinach is pleasing to the eye – and to the tongue – with lush green leaves, and when planted in Autumn, it continues to wow us well into Winter. You can also sow and harvest it as a pre-culture in early Spring, before main crops such as zucchini or carrots are added to the bed or pot in May.
Just avoid sowing in Summer, as the spinach will form shoots too quickly.
Here's what you need:
- A pot or balcony box with drainage hole (depth approx. 30 cm)
- Potting soil with compost
- Shower ball, spray bottle or watering can
- Loosen the soil a bit and enrich it with compost
So here's the thing: you really only have to consider two things when sowing your Spinach "Butterflay".
1) The seeds should be 3 cm deep in the ground, and
2) the seeds should be about 10 cm apart.
It is up to you whether you sow the spinach in rows (distance approx. 20 cm) or – if you are feeling a bit "wild" – between other crops. To achieve the proper sowing depth, you can make grooves, poke holes with your finger or push some soil aside, which you push back after the seeds are in.
Keep everything nice and moist, and the first spinach seedlings will appear before long. If you have sown the seeds too densely, you will have to thin out the plants a little, when they start crowding each other out. You can then use the bits you have thinned out as "baby spinach" in a salad.
One thing to know about your new spinach friend: he prefers a sunny-to-partially-shaded location where he can relax in loose, deep soil. He is also satisfied with less nutrient-rich soils, for example as a following crop to other heavy- or medium-eaters. However, the location should not be too barren or dry – this will ensure that the spinach can grow quickly and healthily.
Diseases and pests
Like most members of the foxtail family, spinach is not particularly susceptible to diseases and pests. However, aphids or fungal diseases can make things a bit messy when the weather is too dry or humid. You don't have to be afraid of powdery mildew with your “Butterflay”, because the variety is mildew-tolerant.
You can fight aphids and plant lice with a mixture of soap and water. In the long term, however, it is wise to encourage the beneficial insects in your garden. If the infestation is severe, you can crush the lice with your fingers (the slightly more medieval solution), or you can sacrifice the most severely affected leaves and toss them on the compost. RIP dearly departed spinach leaves.
What you shouldn't throw on the compost are leaves that have succumbed to fungal infection. It is best to dispose of these in the residual or organic waste, as the temperatures in the domestic compost are not sufficient to kill the spores.
You definitely want to protect your spinach against the leaf miner, an insect whose larvae leave white spots on the leaves. You can do this with close-knit culture protection nets that you place over the cultures starting in May.
And while many humans require a daily dose of coffee to function (tooootally not us…), coffee can actually help repel snails from your spinach plants. Just put a circle of coffee grounds around the plant to keep them away.
Nobody Likes Loud Neighbours
Good neighbours: strawberry, potato, cabbage, lettuce, parsnip, radish, celery, tomato, zucchini
Bad neighbours: Swiss chard, beetroot. Seriously, get off our lawn.
Care for Your Spinach
- Keep moist until germination
- Water regularly in pots and outdoors – this reduces nitrate accumulation
- Fertilise with compost before sowing
- Spinach is sensitive to too much nitrogen, so be careful with liquid fertilisers and organic fertilisers that contain a lot of nitrogen (e.g. animal manure)
- Protect against frost in the Spring and Autumn by covering younger plants
- Keep the bed free of weeds
- In the case of severe frost, harvest or move to a cool, light spaces
- Observe a break from cultivation of at least 4 years
Harvest and Storage
After about two months you can harvest the young, tender leaves of your spinach for salads. Larger, firmer leaves without the stems are better for cooking use. After flowering, the leaves become bitter and can no longer be used.
The deep roots remain in the soil and loosen it up for subsequent crops. They also contain saponins, organic chemicals that help other plants absorb nutrients better.
If you only cut the outer leaves and let the heart stand, the spinach will grow back from the inside. You can then harvest it several times.
It's best to harvest when needed - spinach doesn't last very long in the refrigerator. If you have a large harvest, you can also freeze the leaves and – after thawing and washing them first – use them for some tasty dishes.
In recent years, Spinach has totally flipped its formerly bad reputation as a healthy-but-tasteless vegetable that children avoid. Thanks some bold culinary innovators using it on pizza and in vegetable lasagna, there is no shortage of inspiration for how you can use this incredible vegetable.
Spinach can even function as a standalone treat. Simply sprinkle a bowl of spinach with some olive oil, red-wine vinegar, and clumps of goat cheese, and you've got a delicious and nutrient-rich salad.
Also, since the autumn harvest of spinach coincides with the mushroom picking, you can cook spinach in a pan with fresh porcini mushrooms. Just season with salt, pepper, a little lemon juice and chives, deglaze with white wine or water if necessary, add fresh farmer's bread – okay, now we're getting hungry!
What are some of your favourite ways to use spinach? Leave us a comment or tag @primoza_gardening on Instagram and let us know your go-to recipes for this tasty green treat!