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Australian Grow Guide: Spinach

You can plant spinach either from seeds or seedlings that you can purchase at garden centres or nurseries. 

Spinach is one of the easiest vegetables to grow and is ideal for beginner gardeners. It also provides a continuous harvest for many months as long as you keep the plant watered and fed.

Here’s all you need to know about growing spinach in Australia.

When to plant spinach in Australia

If you’re growing the traditional English spinach variety (Spinacia oleracea), it’s best to plant it in autumn because it prefers the cooler weather and will be slow to bolt when not exposed to the hot sun.

spinach Spinacia oleracea | Fruit & Vegetables

This variety is best grown in the cooler regions of the country. However, it can be grown in warmer areas as long as you provide it with afternoon shade and protect it from the searing sun.

Successive plantings can be made during the cooler months so that you always have a crop on hand to harvest.

How to plant spinach 

You can plant spinach either from seeds or seedlings that you can purchase at garden centres or nurseries. 

How to plant spinach using seeds

Enrich the soil with some organic matter such as matured compost as spinach likes lots of nitrogen. 

If you’re into using the crop rotation method, spinach should be planted in beds that have previously grown legumes such as beans.

Create a shallow trench that is around 2 cm deep. Sow the seeds into the trench, spacing them around 5 cm apart.

spinach seeds 1 | Fruit & Vegetables

Don’t worry if you sow too many seeds at once because you can thin out the seedlings once they emerge. Cover the seeds lightly with soil and water well.

You might also want to scatter some Multiguard snail and slug pellets around the soil because snails will be active during wet weather and they love feasting on the tender young growth.

Once the tiny seedlings have emerged, thin them out so that you have one plant every 5 to 10 cm. Spinach doesn’t need a lot of space to grow as long as the soil is rich in nutrients.

spinach seedlings 1 | Fruit & Vegetables

You can plant the seedlings that you’ve removed in another spot in the garden.

How to plant spinach seedlings

When you purchase spinach seedlings, they will usually come in a punnet with a number of seedlings that can be planted individually.

spinach seedlings | Fruit & Vegetables

Once again, you want to enrich the soil with some compost before planting.

Then, create a small hole for each plant. You can do this with a small garden trowel or even use a bulb planter. Make sure the hole is deep enough to accommodate the roots of the little plants.

Backfill each hole around the seedlings and water them in well.

It’s also a good idea to apply a layer of pea straw or sugar cane mulch on top of the soil and around the seedlings. This will keep the soil cool and moist.

How to care for spinach

Spinach is easy to grow and doesn’t need that much additional care. You just need to ensure that you water your plants during periods of dry weather.

spinach watering | Fruit & Vegetables

It’s important not to let your spinach plants dry out as this will encourage them to bolt to seed.

To really help your plants to thrive, consider watering them with a solution of seaweed extract and water once a fortnight. Seasol is ideal for this.

How long does spinach take to grow?

If you’re growing spinach from seeds, you should be able to harvest some of the tender young leaves within around 10 to 12 weeks. You can harvest even sooner if you want baby spinach leaves. 

Spinach grown from seedlings will take even less time to reach a harvestable size.

When to harvest spinach

You can start harvesting your spinach as soon as the leaves are large enough and each plant has at least 4 or 5 mature leaves. 

spinach harvest | Fruit & Vegetables

But, don’t harvest all the leaves at once. Just take a couple of leaves from each plant and leave the rest to grow.

How to harvest spinach

Harvest spinach leaves regularly by just removing a few leaves from each plant.

spinach harvest 1 | Fruit & Vegetables

Try to take the outer leaves and cut them off close to the base of the plant with a sharp pair of secateurs or kitchen scissors. 

Make sure that you harvest your spinach leaves regularly as this will encourage the plant to produce many more leaves.

Spinach pests and diseases

The main pests that you need to look out for are snails and slugs. You can control these by using pet and wildlife-friendly snail pellets such as Multiguard. 

I’ve been using these in my garden for years and they do help to control the snails and slugs while not being harmful to my dog or the local bird population.

Alternatively, you can use snail traps that you can purchase from Bunnings or a garden centre.

Spinach companion plants

Spinach can be planted with many other types of vegetables in the garden. In fact, this versatile vegetable really doesn’t have any bad companions. 

Therefore, you can plant it near a variety of plants that grow happily in a similar environment such as celery, lettuce, beetroot, onions, silverbeet, broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower, kale and carrots.

Spinach varieties

There are many different varieties of spinach that you can grow in your garden. Here are just a few.

  • ‘Bloomsdale’ spinach – traditional English spinach with thick leaves in a bright green colour
  • ‘Japanese’ spinach – fast-growing, cold and heat tolerant variety with sweeter leaves
  • ‘Perpetual’ spinach – a slow-bolting plant with tender leaves that are glossy
  • ‘Winter Giant’ – extra large glossy, dark green leaves popular for baby spinach
  • ‘’Egyptian’ spinach – suitable for growing through summer but the leaves are a little bitter
  • ‘Italian’ spinach – sweet, lime green leaves

How to grow baby spinach

Essentially, baby spinach is the same plant as regular spinach. The only difference is that the leaves are harvested when still young and haven’t reached their full mature size.

baby spinach | Fruit & Vegetables

This means that baby spinach is grown in exactly the same way as regular spinach.

Baby spinach leaves can commonly be harvested much sooner and often, these will be ready within around 3 to 4 weeks after the seedlings have been planted.

FAQ

Can spinach be grown in pots?

Spinach can absolutely be grown in pots whether outdoors or near a bright window indoors. Use a quality potting mix that is free-draining and feed fortnightly with a nitrogen-rich liquid fertiliser.

How many times can you harvest spinach?

You can harvest spinach continually as it will continue to grow new leaves throughout its growing season. Just remember to only take a few leaves from each plant.

How much space does spinach need to grow?

Spinach needs very little space to grow. Plants can be spaced from 5 to 10 cm apart.

Photo of author

Annette Hird

Annette Hird is a gardening expert with many years of experience in a range of gardening related positions. She has an Associate Diploma of Applied Science in Horticulture and has worked in a variety of production nurseries, primarily as a propagator. She has also been responsible for a large homestead garden that included lawn care, fruit trees, roses and many other ornamental plants. More recently, Annette has concentrated on improving the garden landscape of the homes that she has lived in and focused a lot of energy on growing edible plants as well. She now enjoys sharing her experience and knowledge with others by writing articles about all facets of gardening and growing plants.

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