Spinach (Spinacia oleracea) is an annual plant originating in the Middle East - more precisely from Afghanistan and Turkistan. Some assign its origin to the land of Persia - presently Iran. Long ago, the Arabians used it against throat and lung affections. In the 8th century, spinach was grown in Spain and France and in the 11th century it reached Sicily.
Spinach has a large number of uses on the dinner table, from side salads, soups, chip and vegetable dips, to fillings for all sorts of entrees. If you're growing spinach at your house, you can savor all these with fresh produce from your own yard. In present times, the herb has become much appreciated because, according to research, fresh spinach leaves are anticancerigenic. It is a very renowned plant for its rich iron content. Little do most known that apart from minerals and vitamins, spinach also contains oxalic acid - a substance that inhibits the absorption of calcium into the body.
Starting with the soil, you should have a high loam content, with a high amount of nitrogen. The pH should be somewhere around 6.5. Spinach is very sensitive to acidity, so you'll want to get your soil examined to confirm the pH is high enough (low pH is acidic, high pH is basic, and 7.0 is a neutral pH). As mentioned before, spinach favors cool weather, so your soil does not have to be too warm to get started - 50F should do, but try to be sure you don't experience huge temperature swings and major frosts in the coming weeks.
Next, check out your seeds to verify that they're not too old. Although they can remain viable for a couple years, for best germination probability, don't use seeds that are more than one year old. Seeds from a plant permitted to bolt from last season's plants are preferred. To plant the seeds in the soil, put them about 1/2 inch deep, spaced at 5 inches, and approximately a foot between rows. Spinach seedlings have very fragile roots, so you want to keep handling and transplanting to an absolute minimum. Having sufficient space for each seedling ensures you won't have to do any thinning or handling of the young plants.
Once in the ground, just make sure that the spinach receives enough water. It needs not less than 0.75 inches every week.
There are 2 common issues to know about when growing spinach. The first issue concerns molds and fungi. Spinach likes cool and damp environments, but so does fungus and mold. Take the proper precautions to assure that water doesn't stick around longer than needed. This includes ensuring that the area is well ventilated (the spacing should help with this) and well drained. You can also do your manual watering in the late morning, to promote evaporation. Secondly, if your spinach grows slowly and shows indications of yellowing leaves, you may be using a soil that's too acidic, as mentioned above. Prevention is the best solution here, so you may want to get your soil analyzed before growing.
One nice thing about spinach is that the leaves are edible at any time during the growing process. Generally 1-1.5 months is the right time, but try harvesting some younger leaves to test out the flavors and timing in your garden. Once you harvest the leaves, try not to handle them too much to avoid damage.
Health benefits of spinach
Spinach contains an impressive range of active substances which are indispensable to the body. In its structure we find mineral salts (sodium, potassium, calcium, phosphorus, magnesium, sulfur, iron, zinc, manganese, iodine, copper), vitamins (C, B1, B2, B6, PP, E, K, folic acid, vitamin A), chlorophyll, amino acids such as arginine and lysine, but also lipids, protides, glucdes and fibers. With only 17 calories, 100 grams of spinach supplies the body with 5 mg of iron, 500 mg of potassium, 170 mg of calcium, 23 mg of vitamin C, 2 mg of vitamin E, 150 micrograms of folic acid, 3500 micrograms of beta-carotene and 7 grams of alimentary fibers. Because of this, an alimentary diet which contains spinach, leads to the strengthening of the body. The magnesium contained in spinach helps prevent diabetes; iodine helps treat skin diseases and strengthens the immune system; vitamin K contributes to bone resistance; vitamin B improves cerebral activity, helps in maintaining the firmness of the skin and controls insomnia; potassium stimulates the cardiac muscle; beta-carotene prevents sight problems and sulfur increases hair attractiveness.
Spinach with onion and lemon juice
Alimentary fibers, vitamins and minerals contained make spinach a good depurative and detoxifier. The toxins originating in nourishments that are rich in fat and proteins of animal origin are thus eliminated quickly. At the same time, alimentary fibers prevent constipation and colon cancer. They interact with the absorption of fat and adjust the level of cholesterol in the body. Moreover, spinach can help eliminate intestinal parasites. All of these are sufficient reasons to start a diet based on spinach or at least for introducing it more often into everyday nourishment. By being nutritive, tonifying, mineralizing, calming for the nervous system and also a good coagulant, spinach benefits growth.
And maybe you should try Spinach and Mushroom Roulade - it sounds delicious...:)