Spinach ( Palak ) is one of the easiest leafy vegetables that can be grown by anyone all-round the year. Owing to the best health benefits it offers us and of course the yummy recipes that can be prepared, it is always better to grow our own spinach that’s fresh, nutritious, with optimum water content, green colour and delicious as compared to the one bought from stores that would have lost almost all these properties before reaching us. Most important is it will be free from harmful chemical pesticides.
Choosing the spot: Keep the containers/planter boxes in a place which receives sunlight for morning few hours. See that the spot should not get harsh sunlight since spinach comes well in partial shade.
Sowing: Containers/planter boxes used to grow spinach should be around 6-8 inches deep and preferably wide. Sow the seeds 1/2 inches deep directly in containers or in a seedling tray having the potting mix that is porous, rich in organic matter and well draining. Provide each spinach plant a space of 3 inches, if you want to pick large leaves give more space to each plant, about 5 inches. If you want to harvest leaves at very young age, then this area can be reduced to 2 inches only. Divide the planter box into squares, and see how many plants can be grown in it.Seeds will germinate in about 5-7 days. If you have sown the seeds in a seedling tray, wait until 2-3 true leaves appear in each plant and then transplant them into the containers.
Watering: While growing spinach in containers avoid water stagnation because it will lead to the development of rot and various fungal diseases. Also, avoid wetting the foliage. Keep the soil moist but not soggy or wet. It is always necessary to take care of good drainage in the container.
Nutrition: Provide proper nutrition by adding compost/vermi compost or organic fertilizers once in every week or atleast once in 10 days. Keep the plants healthy with proper nutrition to avoid pests and diseases.
Pests and Diseases: Healthy plants are not usually infested by the pests and diseases. Among insect pests, leaf miners and aphids are important which can be efficiently managed by organic pest control.
Harvesting: The spinach plant will be ready for harvest 35-50 days after germination depending on the growing conditions and cultivar. Harvesting can be done when the plant has formed at least 5-6 healthy leaves and they are at least 3-4 inches long. Pick outer leaves first and leave the new inner leaves so that they continue to grow or cut the whole plant off at the base with a knife or scissor, the plant will sprout again. Spinach can be harvested for 4-5 times. And if you sow spinach seeds every fortnight, you can manage to harvest spinach throughout the year.
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