Week 14: Spinach!

Happy Autumnal Equinox!

As if on cue, you will find the first spinach of the season in your bags today! And there's plenty of it to look forward to in your fall future, too. This year's spinach is some of the best I've grown--and it will get even tastier after frost hits.

Spinach is a beautiful crop, an amazing sight to behold--particularly because it is so darn finicky to grow! Picking it this morning, I couldn't keep from carrying on about how fantastic the rows look this year.

In any spinach-growing locale, spinach is seeded in the ground, emerges four days later, and produces beautiful green leaves in six weeks. We are not in a spinach-growing locale. It's too hot in August for spinach seeds to germinate reliably or at all, but delaying planting until cool weather would yield a crop in November--far too late to be useful this season.

A typical farmer conversation about spinach:
Me: "Spinach is going all right this year, I gave up on direct seeding and I'm growing all my spinach from transplants." 
Farmer: "Yeah, spinach, it never comes up!"

We all know this, yet persist in direct seeding some because it should be such an easy crop.

Now, you see...I DID plan to go through the hassle of transplanting thousands of spinach plants again this year, but then the weather forecast showed a period of cool rainy weather in early August at the perfect planting date for fall spinach. I seized the day. It worked. Five days of unseasonably cool days and moist soil established an excellent stand of spinach. And, thanks to the nitrogen-producing covercrop planted there last spring, the plants are beautiful and green instead of small and yellow as results from, well...too little nitrogen, or too much water, too little water, too low pH...and who knows what else. In any case, factors aligned this year and having seen all the ways the crop can go wrong, I'm really excited about spinach right now.