Sunday 27 May 2018

Grow your body fuel - Spinach

Michael Kelly

Why Grow it?

HAVING a decent crop of spinach available is great for your health. It's a nutritional powerhouse – one cup has 20pc of your RDA of dietary fibre, 337pc of vitamin A and 1,000pc of vitamin K. It's rich in anti-cancer flavonoids, and in anti-inflammatory properties. It's also rich in vitamin C, vitamin E, beta-carotene, manganese, zinc and selenium. It's quick to grow and tastes great.

Sow

Spinach does best in cool, wet weather. Sow three or four seeds in each module of a module tray, 1.5cm deep. To have a constant supply of it, you can sow seeds every month from April to August.

Grow

About a month after sowing, plant out in the soil leaving 20cm between rows and 7-15cm between plants (depending on whether you want baby leaves or regular ones). Spinach can be grown pretty much anywhere and doesn't need to be included in a crop rotation. Water well particularly in summer. Apply an organic liquid feed (nettle is good) if growth seems lacklustre.

Harvest

Spinach will be ready to eat 8-10 weeks after sowing. Take the outer leaves first. You can also cut the entire head off at ground level – it will sprout new leaves and you will be able to crop again in a few weeks.

GIY Recommended Varieties

Choose bolting- and mildew-resistant varieties such as Bonbini.

Problems

Spinach is far more interested in reproducing (producing flowers and seeds) than it is in producing leaves that you can eat – this is called "bolting". To avoid this, choose varieties that are slow to bolt and keep it well watered in hot weather. Downy mildew can also be an issue – it will manifest as white fluffy patches on leaves – prevent this by giving plants plenty of space.

GIY Tips

* Small, tender spinach leaves make an excellent addition to salads.

* Summer sowings are better done direct in the soil to prevent bolting.

Watch

GIY tutorials on growing vegetables at www.giyireland.com/videos.

Irish Independent

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