A native of central and western Asia, spinach is grown perennially throughout the world. The leafy, green vegetable is a rich source of vitamins A, B, and C, iron, calcium, and antioxidants and can be enjoyed fresh as well as cooked.
With shopping apps taking over the market it has become very easy to have almost everything delivered to your doorstep. However, having freshly harvested vegetables from your own lawn or backyard is a good way of ensuring that you’re consuming nothing but well-cultivated and best quality food.
Cultivating spinach at home is extremely easy in India where climatic conditions are just right for its growth. In most areas, you can get multiple crops in the growing season. Spinach grows very fast and can be easily harvested after 20-25 days from sowing. It can even regrow up to two to three times after harvesting.
So, will spinach grow back after cutting?
The answer is yes. If cut properly, spinach does regrow. In this article, you’ll find all that you need to know about how to grow ‘cut and come again’ spinach in the comfort of your home. But first, take a look at how to care for your plants.
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Introduction: things you must know about spinach cultivation
The spinach plant is extremely popular among people all around the world especially because of how good it is for your body. Apart from being very rich in vitamins and minerals, spinach is also good for skin, hair, eyes, and digestion.
It also has anti-aging properties and is a proven ally in cancer prevention. Cultivating fresh spinach at home gives you the freedom of harvesting it as per your own needs, and therefore solves the problem of a limited storage period.
Spinach can be cultivated very easily and it grows extremely fast, most varieties maturing within 20-25 days of sowing. It grows best in places with an average temperature of 15 C-30 C that gets an annual rainfall of 80-120 cm. It can be grown in any kind of well-drained soil but sandy loams and alluvial soils are especially beneficial for its growth. It can be sown all round the year, except December to February.
When to harvest spinach?
Since spinach matures really fast, most varieties can be harvested after 20-30 days of sowing the plants. When to harvest the plant is also a matter of choice. If you want baby leaves you can pick them as soon as the plant is a rosette with five to six leaves. Baby spinach leaves have a more tender texture and sweeter flavor compared to mature leaves.
However, if you prefer fully mature leaves you might have to wait a little longer. Spinach leaves must be picked before they start to bolt or flower, in which case the leaves will turn bitter. This typically happens after a week of full leaf formation. So at this stage, it is always advisable to harvest the plant as soon as possible. Leaves should not be left to turn yellow either.
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Bolting: will your plants regrow?
Since spinach is a cool weather plant, it starts to bolt or flower as soon as the temperature rises higher. Bolting refers to the process of seed formation during which plants start flowering. As an end-of-life process spinach plants start producing seeds.
Before seeds or flowers are produced, the plants go through a span of fast growth, growing taller and producing more leaves that are bitter to taste. Soon afterward, they develop clusters of flower buds. The oval leaves change their shape and take an arrowhead form.
Though bolting mostly happens naturally as an end of life process, it can be also be caused by water stress caused by a shortage of water and exposure to excessive sunlight and excessive heat. What happens when spinach leaves flowers?
Does spinach regrow after bolting?
Sadly, the answer to this is negative. Spinach plants cannot grow back after bolting and once your plants have bolted you have only a few options at hand. You can uproot them immediately and plant a hot season crop in their place and plant new seeds again after the hot season ends. You can also let them bloom (they are especially beautiful to look at during this stage) and gather seeds for later use.
Even though nothing can be done to save the plants after they have bolted, steps can be taken to prevent or slow down the bolting process. You can plant spinach very early on, as soon as the high heat days of summer are gone, if your area gets frosts. This gives you a lot of time to cultivate and enjoy the harvest for a long time before the bolting season arrives. You can also slow down bolting by watering your plants well enough during the hot and sunny days.
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How to harvest spinach to enable regrowing?
Coming back to harvesting, we shall deal with the most important concern of this article: Does spinach regrow once harvested? As you’ve already read, the answer is yes. Spinach does regrow if harvested correctly.
But why and when does spinach regrow?
Spinach regenerates its leaves from the growing point or the part of the stem where it joins the roots. If the plant is left unharmed from this point down, it regenerates its leaves within four weeks of cutting.
If the plant does not go to seeding, it can regenerate itself for two or more cycles of regrowth, giving multiple harvests. However, to ensure that this process of regrowth comes through, you must be sure not to cut the plant too close to the soil, as that will harm the growing point.
How then should you harvest to make sure your plants regrow?
To know that, first you need to determine your consumption needs. If you want only a few leaves to prepare for a meal, you can opt for the ‘cut and come again’ method of harvesting. How to grow, cut, and come again spinach?
In the cut and come again process, you cut only as much of the produce as you immediately need. For that, you will just have to use a pair of garden shears or scissors to chop off a few leaves at the stem. The best way to do this would be to start cutting from the outside, taking the outer, older leaves first, and gradually working your way through to the inner leaves as they mature.
This process is very economic as it allows you to get that fresh from the farm taste every day even with a highly perishable vegetable like spinach.
On the other hand, if you decide to cut off the entire plant, harvesting all of the leaves together, you have to cut the plant at its base, within two inches of the ground. However, be sure not to totally uproot the plant or cut off the growing point. Both these methods should enable the plant to re-sprout, as long as the growing pint is left unharmed.
However, harvesting all the plants together may get you concerned over the storage issue. Once harvested, spinach leaves start decaying fast. Since they are prone to bruising it is advisable to handle them very carefully.
Before storing, the yellow, damaged and already decayed leaves must be taken out of the harvest and the plants should be washed very well to get all the dirt off from the leaves. Then the leaves should be refrigerated, placed in a paper towel or a plastic bag, bundled lightly together, at a temperature of 5C-10 C.
Another method of refrigerating spinach would be to chop the leaves, sauté or steam them and then refrigerate the result. However, it is always best to consume it as fresh as possible.
Tips for Growing Spinach
Getting a healthy harvest of spinach is as easy as it can get. This plant doesn’t need any extra attention. Here are some useful tips to follow if you want to have fresh, healthy, green spinach plants growing in your yard.
- Sow your seeds as early as you can. If your area gets frosts, it is advisable to sow the seeds as soon as the high heat days of summer are through. This will give you plenty of time to enjoy fresh harvests for a long time.
- Make sure the area where you choose to plant your crops gets the right mix of sun and shade. Too much sunlight and heat can cause your plants to bolt sooner than usual by leading to a water shortage.
- Keep in mind that even though spinach plants do not require extensive care, well-drained soil is a must for the healthy growth of the plants. A pH value of 6.5 to 7 is just right for the crops.
- While sowing the seeds try to bury them about half an inch deep into the soil. At least 3 to 4 inches of space must be there between two consecutive plants, otherwise, their growth might be hampered.
- Do not overwater the plants. Spinach is mostly a cold-weather plant. Therefore avoid overwatering at all costs. Having said this, you will also have to ensure that the soil remains moist during the germination period to accelerate the process. Watering the plants early in the morning is a good way to ensure that water is well absorbed into the soil throughout the day and prevents waterlogging.
- The spinach plant is prone to diseases like flea beetles, leaf spots, downy mildew, damping-off and snail, cutworm, leaf miners, and slug infestation. These can prove to be detrimental to the health of your crops. Therefore keep these pests at bay using natural remedies like Neem oil.
- Prepping the soil with old manure is a good idea. Using homemade manures like food scraps, used tea leaves, fruit peel, and rotten fruits and vegetables from the household help in improving the fertility of the soil and makes the quality and quantity of the harvest better.
- Avoid bolting. Harvest the plants before they bolt as after the plant has gone to seed the leaves lose their taste and become bitter.
Spinach grow back after cutting, so you can enjoy the bunch of fresh veggies twice in a week.
To conclude, it can be said that the key to having a healthy garden is always to look after the plants and monitor their growth. You cannot plant the seeds and forget about them until they have already gone into seeding. Plants need to be looked after regularly.
Spinach is no exception. In order to make sure you have a healthy harvest, you have to take care of your plants, visiting them once every day if possible. With proper care and nourishment, your plants will yield a healthy harvest in no longer than 20-30 days in most cases. Some species may even take up to 60 days, but that’s alright because good things take time.