|Spinacia oleracea subsp. var.||Spinach|
Spinach (Spinacia oleracea) is an edible flowering plant in the family of Amaranthaceae. It is native to central and southwestern Asia. It is an annual plant (rarely biennial), which grows to a height of up to 30 cm. Spinach may survive over winter in temperate regions. The leaves are alternate, simple, ovate to triangular-based, very variable in size from about 2-30 cm long and 1-15 cm broad, with larger leaves at the base of the plant and small leaves higher on the flowering stem. The flowers are inconspicuous, yellow-green, 3-4 mm diameter, maturing into a small, hard, dry, lumpy fruit cluster 5-10 mm across containing several seeds.
|Standard Cyclopedia of Horticulture|
Spinach (Spinacia oleracea, which see) is an annual crop grown as a pot-herb, or for "greens." It is a cool-season plant, and therefore it is grown in fall to spring. It is a plant of easy culture, thriving in any good garden or field soil, although for quick results and for tender succulent foliage, land that has an abundance of available plant-food, and particularly of nitrogen, is most desirable. The plant is hardy, and when the land is well drained, it will ordinarily stand the winter climate as far north as the city of New York, and still farther in somewhat protected places.
Spinach is grown both as a fall and spring crop. The fall crop is raised from seed that is sown in August; in eight weeks the leaves may be large enough for eating.
The spring crop is grown from seeds sown in autumn, or from those sown in winter in hotbeds or cold-frames, or from those sown directly in the open ground as soon as it is fit in the spring. If the plants for spring use are to be started in the fall, the seeds should be sown about six to eight weeks before hard freezing weather is expected. Then the plants will have attained sufficient size and roothold to enable them to pass the winter. It is advisable to cover the plants, just before winter sets in, with straw or loose litter or dry manure. Even though the plants will withstand the winter, they nevertheless thrive better if given this protection, particularly in soils that are likely to heave. It is customary to grow this fall-sown spinach on wide ridges or beds that are made by plowing several furrows together, leaving a dead-furrow between them. This allows of surface drainage. These beds may be from 5 to 10 feet wide. On these beds, the seeds are sown in rows running lengthwise, the distance between the rows being from 10 to 20 inches, depending on the methods that are employed for tillage. If hand tillage alone is to be given, the plants may be placed closer. In the spring the cover is removed from the plants at the earliest opportunity, for spinach is most desired very early in the season. Unless the land is in extra good "heart," it is well to make a surface application of a soluble fertilizer early in the spring in order to start the plants into growth. A fertilizer that is very rich in nitrogen gives best results; in fact, it is customary in some places to use a solution of nitrate of soda or sulfate of ammonia, applying the material with a sprinkling-cart. From fifty to seventy-five pounds of the fertilizer may be used to the acre with very good results at each of two or more applications.
For home use, spinach is sometimes carried over the winter in frames, the plants having been transplanted to the frames or raised in them during the late fall. These frames are protected from severe freezing weather by mats or shutters. Whenever it is desired to bring the plants into growth, sash is placed over the frame, and extra protection is given in very cold weather. The plants will soon become green and begin to make new leaves. Different frames may be covered at different times as the season advances, thereby providing a supply for home use. Sometimes the seed is sown in hotbeds that are made late in winter or very early in spring, and the plants are secured in advance of the ordinary season. The growing of spinach in frames is less frequent than formerly, owing to the fact that the market is now supplied with the product grown in the middle South.
Spring spinach may be grown from seeds that are sown as soon as the land can be worked in spring. If the land has been plowed and manured in the fall, quicker results may be secured. Two or three sowings may be made in the home-garden for spring use, but after the middle of June spinach is likely to become tough and is in little demand. If spinach is wanted during the summer, it is better to use the New Zealand spinach, which is a warm-weather plant. This plant has no relationship with the ordinary spinach (see Tetragonia). It is usually best to sow spinach seed where the plants are to stand, although it is sometimes transplanted into frames for home use. Care must be taken that the plants do not become checked or stunted, else they will tend to run to seed. If the seed is sown too late in spring, when hot weather is approaching, the root-leaves will be very few and the plant will quickly throw up flower-stalks. Spinach is always grown as a succession or companion crop, as it occupies the land for a small part of the year. There are very few insects and diseases that are generally troublesome.
Spinach is usually transported to market in barrels or crates. Plants are usually cut so that an inch or so of the root is left with them. All dirt is removed, as also all broken and dead leaves. The plants are packed tight. It is essential that the plants be dry before they are shipped.
There are several important varieties of spinach. The large broad-leaved varieties are most popular in the markets, such as the Viroflay and the Round-leaved. The prickly spinach is considered to be the most hardy and is chiefly recommended for fall sowing. CH
Pests and diseases
There are 3 basic types of Spinach:
- Savoy has dark green, crinkly and curly leaves. It is the type sold in fresh bunches in most supermarkets. One heirloom variety of savoy is Bloomsdale, which is somewhat resistant to bolting.wp
- Flat/smooth leaf spinach has broad smooth leaves that are easier to clean than savoy. This type is often grown for canned and frozen spinach, as well as soups, baby foods, and processed foods.wp
- Semi-savoy is a hybrid variety with slightly crinkled leaves. It has the same texture as savoy, but it is not as difficult to clean. It is grown for both fresh market and processing. Five Star is a widely grown variety and has good resistance to running up to seed.wp