It’s the leafy green that gives Popeye his strength and keeps Olive always by his side! Yes, it is spinach we are referring to…This leafy green is very versatile when it comes to cooking, it has so many uses on pizza’s, in pastas and salads or in a quiche, the possibilities are endless. They are a “rough around the edges” plant and are not always the most elegant vegetable, but they pack a punch!
Spinach that are also well known to be called Swiss chard is a leafy green vegetable that stood the test of time and have earned the respect of many and has come far from its cartoon days! To save the seeds for a future sowing would be a worthwhile endeavour. But first let’s get sowing, to complete the cycle.
Please soak your seeds, before you sow them, for at least 24 hours. They can be sown in an open ground or in pots and containers. They do have a taproot system, so they need adequate space in the root section. Seeds needs about 15-20 degrees Celsius to germinate. While you are eagerly watching your own spinach grow, keep in the back of your mind there are female and male spinach plants in your garden and that you only will discover, which is female, and which is male as they reach maturity. You will need both in your garden to have successful pollination that will happen naturally by the wind!
When you’ve harvested your spinach and enjoyed the veg of your labour, you can leave the plant to reach maturity. To identify the male plant, the Pop-eye of the story, the first spinach stalks that appears on plants with “seeds”, will be male and will contain lots of pollen and will give of yellow powder when touched. There will be yellow ball like structures attached under the leaves. The female plants, the Olive’s, will start flowering a few days after the males and will form green balls under the leaves that will mature into viable seed!
The male plants do not need to be dried out and collected, only the female plants will produce the seeds needed to continue your gardening experience. The female plants, then can be pulled whole but be careful not to lose the seeds! Hang the stalks then in a cool dry place for another 10 days, to dry completely. Remove the seed with your hand, just by pulling them of the stalk. The seed can then be stored for the next sowing and can be viable up to 3 years. There could be plants that are male and female it does occur but not regularly.
Spinach will not let you down as a new gardener and is a pleasure to grow! If you have a sunny spot in the garden and your soil is prepared with some compost, you are ready for a world of spinach. To ensure green healthy leaves use Talborne organics Seedling food when your spinach is a seedling size and when they are mature Talborne Organics - Vita Veg are going to provide adequate nutrition. There are a lot of varieties available, Rainbow spinach, Lucullus Swiss chard, Bright Lights Swiss Chard, Viroflay Spinach, Flamingo Pink Spinach and Matador baby spinach. New Zealand Spinach is popular but not a true spinach!
You will make Pop-eye and Olive proud!
About the Author
Adele Siemssen is the Seeds for Africa Operations supervisor. Adele is a qualified horticulturist with 30 years of hands on experience and loves pets and assisting customers to make their garden dreams come true!