This is a cool-weather vegetable that is a close relative of Swiss chard and beets. It can reach a height of up to one foot, which is one of the many reasons why it makes a perfect choice for an indoor vegetable. The width, on the other hand, can be anywhere from three to 15 inches. It has alternate leaves, which can be ornate or triangular. The leaves are edible and the main part of the plant that people consume as a vegetable.
There are many varieties of spinach, but for an indoor garden, you need to find one that is compact so that it will thrive well even in containers. In this case, Catalina spinach is one option that can prove to be perfect. It has baby leaves with a delicate flavor. The taste is mellow and sweeter as against others that are leaning more towards the bitter side. Meanwhile, the leaves are crunchy. Melody spinach is another compact variety that will be ideal for container gardening. It has thick and green leaves, which are known for their sweet savory flavor.
Planting and Growing Conditions
The first step in growing spinach is to select the right seeds. You need to be familiar with the different varieties, as well as their height and overall size. Think about their flavor as well so that you will know which is ideal for your preferences. To prevent problems in the future, purchase only from reputable suppliers to have seeds that are disease-free. Unlike in the case of other vegetables, growing spinach from seeds will not require the need to wait for a long time before they will germinate.
Look for a container where you will plant the spinach. It should have a depth of at least six inches, providing the root with more than enough room to grow. If you are recycling an old container, wash it with mild soap and warm water to disinfect. Make sure that the pot is also wide enough. To add, there should be holes at the bottom, which will provide drainage to avoid water from accumulating and causing root rot.
Fill the pot with a nutrient-rich soil. Ideally, the pH level should be anywhere from 6.5 to 7.5. An organic potting mix will also be an excellent soil amendment, as well as compost. The latter will help in retaining moisture without making the soil soggy.
Sow the seeds on the surface of the soil, making sure to have one to two inches of space in between. If you are transplanting, on the other hand, six to eight inches of space will be necessary. Water the soil and press it firmly from the top.
To ensure the health of the plant, pick the right location of the container. The best place inside the house is the windowsill. It will receive bright sun, but there is no direct heat that will kill the plant. Make sure that the sunlight is less than 14 hours per day. Otherwise, the plant can experience bolting, a condition wherein leaves do not fully develop and become bitter or bland.
Eating spinach can provide you with a wide array of health benefits, which include the following:
- Improves Eyesight: For a healthier vision, especially for people who are aging, consuming spinach will be beneficial. It is a rich source of lutein and beta carotene, which are both important in the prevention of macular degeneration and other vision problems.
- Regulates Blood Pressure: For people who have hypertension, spinach will make a healthy addition to a regular diet routine. This can be because of having a high content of potassium, which will relax the blood vessels.
- Protects Against Cancer: Chlorophyll is one of the components of spinach that will aid in the prevention of cancer cells. The Vitamin A in spinach is also great in the prevention of lung cancer, among others.
- Lessens Asthma Attacks: If you have asthma or other respiratory problems, you will also benefit from eating spinach. It contains beta carotene, which will lower the possibility of having asthma attacks and similar problems.
- Healthier Pregnancy: For pregnant women, eating spinach will be good. It has folate, which is essential for fetal development, providing an assurance of having a healthy baby. It lessens the possibility of having birth defects.
- Strengthens the Bone: The Vitamin K in spinach is one of the reasons why this is an essential vegetable for the improvement of bone health. It also helps in the absorption of calcium to help in improving bone density.
Pests and Diseases
One of the most common diseases apparent in spinach is downy mildew, which results from overcrowding and harsh weather conditions. Meanwhile, when it comes to pests, leaf miners are some of the most common causes of infestation. Since the leaves are the edible parts, the damage from these pests will make the crop unmarketable and unfit for human consumption.
Care and Maintenance
To take care of spinach and to guarantee its best condition until harvest, here are some important points you have to keep in mind:
- Consistent moisture is one of the key ingredients for growing healthy spinach. With this, make sure that you water it consistently without overdoing. Too much water will encourage root problems.
- Even if you grow spinach in containers, you should still add mulch. This will be helpful in the retention of moisture. Make sure to add organic matter, but be careful in doing this as this can be a method of transferring pests and infection to the plant.
- Do not let the plant stay longer in the container than it should be. In most cases, they are ready to harvest within 37 to 50 days. Also, if it reaches a height of three to four inches and if there are five to six healthy leaves, you are ready to harvest.
- Fertilizing is necessary to supplement the essential nutrients. If the weather is warm, soy meal, fish meal, and alfalfa meal will be ideal choices for natural fertilizers. Also, take note that spinach is a vegetable that feeds heavily, which is why the use of a fertilizer will help. Add fertilizer to the soil prior to sowing the seeds.
Looking for a healthy vegetable to include in your indoor garden? Spinach is one option that needs to be on the top of the list. It is packed with nutrients that can deliver an abundance of benefits. Lucky for you, there is no need to do a lot to grow the plant and to maintain it in its best condition.