Spinacia oleracea
Common Name: spinach 
Type: Annual
Family: Amaranthaceae
Native Range: Belize, China, Ecuador, Honduras, United States
Zone: 2 to 11
Height: 0.50 to 1.00 feet
Spread: 0.50 to 1.00 feet
Bloom Time: Non-flowering
Sun: Full sun to part shade
Water: Medium
Maintenance: Medium
Suggested Use: Vegetable

Culture

Easily grown in moist, organically rich, fertile, well-drained soils in full sun to light shade. Spinach is a cool weather vegetable that produces an excellent crop in the cool temperatures of spring and/or fall, but does poorly in the heat of the summer when plants bolt (send up flower spikes) with resulting deterioration of the leaves. Plants grown in part shade may bolt later than plants grown in full sun. For spring crops, seed may be started indoors about 8 weeks prior to last spring frost date with seedlings transplanted outdoors about 3 weeks prior to last spring frost date (plants will tolerate some frost). Seed may also be planted directly in the garden in early spring (sow 1/2" deep in rows 12" apart). To lengthen harvest time, start seed at two-week intervals. A fall crop can be started by planting seed indoors the second week of August for transplanting outdoors at the end of August or by directly seeding outdoors. A fall crop can be harvested until cold weather arrives (sometimes to Thanksgiving). Harvest leaves as soon as they are of usable size. Harvest all leaves when plants bolt in summer.

Noteworthy Characteristics

Spinach is an erect, glabrous, annual herb that is probably native to western Asia. It has been cultivated in Europe since the 1400s. Leaves are commonly used as a vegetable or salad green. Leaves are commonly added to a variety of different food dishes including pizzas, quiches and omelets. Leaves are an excellent source of vitamins A, B and C, iron, phosphorus and chlorophyll. Spinach leaves typically grow in a basal clump to 12" tall. Greenish-yellow flowers appear when the plants bolt. Flowers have no ornamental value.

Genus name origin obscure but possibly from the Latin spina meaning a spine in reference to the spiny husk of the fruit.

Specific epithet means of the vegetable garden.

Problems

Downy mildew and blight/cucumber mosaic disease. Leaf miner.

Garden Uses

Vegetable.