Introduction to spinach seed germination and growing Palak from seeds: Spinach or Palak (Spinacia oleracea L.) is one of the most common vegetables grown worldwide for its high nutritious value. Spinach has several other vitamins and minerals, including potassium, magnesium, and vitamins B6, B9, and E. It is an extremely nutrient-rich vegetable.
A step by step guide to growing Palak from seeds
You can also grow spinach from cuttings, growing spinach in the balcony, growing spinach on the terrace, growing spinach in pots, growing spinach from roots, growing spinach in the backyard, growing spinach in the kitchen garden, and growing spinach in raised beds.
Spinach plant likes lots of suns (8 to 10 hours a day) and cool, well-drained soil. You can mulch the soil (with leaves, and hay, etc.) around spinach to help keep the soil cooler. Spinach roots will rot if their soil is too soggy loosens up the soil well before plant the seeds. If you want to try growing spinach in a container, make sure excess water is drained from the container. If the garden soil is sandy and acid, be sure to get a lime recommendation based on a soil test before planting spinach. Spinach is also a heavy feeder. Growing spinach in a garden provides a ready source of these healthful greens in season.
In this article we also cover below topics;
- Germinate spinach seeds indoors
- Spinach germination time
- Spinach seed selection tips
- Spinach seeds soaking before planting
- Growing spinach in pots or containers or backyards
- Best times to plant spinach
- Ideal temperature for spinach seed germination
- Gardening tips for growing spinach from seed
Soil requirement for growing Palak (spinach) from seeds
Spinach prefers a well-draining soil with a neutral pH and won’t be happy at a pH level lower than 6.0. Because it is such a fast grower, spinach is a heavy feeder. Fish emulsion and also soy meal are good organic choices for spinach. Spinach plant likes a moderately moist habitat, but will not do well in soil that floods regularly or does not drain well. If you cannot find an adequate plot in your garden you can make a raised vegetable garden bed or plant spinach in a container.
If building a raised vegetable garden bed, use cedarwood planks if possible and cedar resists rot when exposed to water. Because spinach is a small plant that does not produce extremely deep roots, you will not need a large growing space if you are only growing spinach.
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Seed selection for growing Palak from seeds
Good quality seed from a reputable supplier gives predictable results. Seeds less than one-year-old generally have the best rate of germination. Older seeds have a germination rate of less than 80 percent and take longer to sprout. Seeds more than two years old have such a low success rate that they are generally not worth planting.
Temperature requirements for growing Palak (spinach) from seeds
Spinach seeds germinate between 40 and 75°F. The amount of time required for germination varies with the temperature. Spinach sprouts slowly at temperatures just above freezing. It germinates in approximately 3 weeks at 50 degrees but needs only about five days at a temperature of 77 degrees. At 77 degrees, however, 30 percent of seeds germinate, and seeds may not sprout at all at higher temperatures.
Spinach (Palak) planting process
Spinach plant does best when grown in moist, nitrogen-rich soil. Spinach plant forms a deep taproot; for best growth, loosen the soil at least 1 foot deep before planting.
Sow seed about 6 weeks before the last frost or as soon as you can work the soil. Prepare the garden soil the previous autumn, and you will be able to drop the seeds in the barely thawed ground come spring. In areas with a long, cool spring, create successive plantings every 10 days until mid-May.
Plant seeds an inch apart in rows 14 to 18 inches apart and covers the seeds with about 1/2 inch of soil. Keep the soil moist and after the seeds germinate thin them to stand 3 to 5 inches apart. Most gardeners like to do this in several passes to find out the strongest plants to save. Thinning is important and you must be ruthless in the final analysis or you will have a congested row of plants that don’t size up.
You can start growing spinach indoors or direct seeded in the garden as soon as the soil is workable. It grows quite quickly, so don’t start plants indoors more than a 2 to 3 weeks before you plan to transplant them out. Spinach matures and goes to seed quickly, so it is better to re-seed every couple of weeks than to try and plant a large crop to harvest over time.
Sow the seeds thinly in rows spaced 1 to 1 1/2 feet apart. Then, cover lightly with soil, firm in place and water well. Keep the soil moist until germination and once the plants have grown their true leaves; you can begin to thin the plants to about 6 inches apart. As the weather warms, spinach plants will bolt quickly. Expect to stop sowing spinach seeds sometime in May or June, by depending on your climate.
Choosing a pot for growing Palak from seeds
For growing spinach in pots, choose a pot that is least 6 to 8 inches deep. You don’t need a deep pot rather use a wide pot. You can use so many small pots and grow one plant in each or select large window boxes, wooden boxes or crates.
Growing process for Palak in pots from seeds
If space is tight or rabbits are many, then you can easily grow spinach in containers. Even a relatively 10 to 12-inch pot or a window box will do. You will want to water more frequently since containers dry out faster.
Sow spinach seeds 1/2 inches deep directly in containers or a seed tray. Seedlings will germinate in 5 to 14 days depending on the variety and growing conditions. If you have sown seeds in a seed tray wait until 2 to 3 true leaves appear on each plant and then transplant them into the original pots carefully.
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When planted in the right soil, spinach seeds germinate quickly. It takes about 5 to 9 days for the seeds to germinate and sow the seeds at different times throughout the spring for a longer harvest.
Spinach (Palak) seed starting process
- Spinach seed is viable for 3 years and it is grown from seeds or transplants.
- Sow spinach seeds about 6 to 4 weeks before the last spring frost; it can be started indoors a couple of weeks earlier.
- Sow seed ½ inches (13mm) deep and sow seeds 1 inch (2.5cm) apart; later thin seedlings to about 6 inches (15cm) apart; use the thinnings in salads. Make sure there is excellent air circulation around seedlings and maturing plants to avoid disease.
- Space plants 6 to 9 inches (15-22 cm) apart in a staggered pattern or rows about 11 to 18 inches apart.
- Spinach grows best in full sun but can tolerate light shade and prefers a soil pH between 6.5 and 7.5.
- Spinach seed germinates in 7 to 14 days at or near 70°F (21°C) but sometimes seed can take up to 3 weeks to germinate in cold soil.
- When sowing seed in summer for fall harvest, first place the seed in a folded damp paper towel placed in a plastic bag and also kept in the refrigerator for 5 days before sowing.
- Keep the soil evenly moist until seeds germinate; once plants are established mulch with straw to keep the roots cool and moist. Add aged compost to planting beds in advance of the sowing process; compost will feed the soil and aide moisture retention.
- Spinach plants can tolerate light frosts in the spring and freeze in the fall. Spinach planted in the fall can winter over under straw and a floating row cover and begin new growth early in spring.
Spinach (Palak) plant spacing
Provide each spinach plant a space of 3 inches, if you want to pick large leaves, and then give more space to each plant, 5 inches. If you want to harvest leaves at a young age, then the spacing can be reduced to 2 inches only. Divide the planter box into squares, and then see how many plants will feel comfortable in it.
Spinach plant growing tips
The key to success with the spinach plant begins with getting the plants off to a good start. Plant the right plant varieties in rich, organic soil. Side-dressing with a nitrogen fertilizer will work and will foliar applications of fertilizer.
The best times to plant spinach is as a spring and fall crop. Spinach plants will flower during long days and warm temperatures in summer.
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Care of spinach plants
- Spinach plant enjoys a healthy amount of sunlight. Overall, spinach doesn’t want any special attention to thrive. Proper fertilization, regular watering, and nutrient-rich soil are all you want to ensure a nice harvest.
- Water spinach plant regularly, when the soil appears to be dry, but make sure the containers have proper drainage, as soggy soil will lead to diseases and pest issues. Spinach plant prefers a nutrient-rich soil, so either uses a slow-releasing fertilizer or be prepared to feed often.
- Spinach seedlings are very difficult to transplant. Start transplants inside 3 to 6 weeks before the last frost.
- Spinach is shallow-rooted and wants consistent moisture to prevent bolting. Water to maintain the soil moist. Mulch after plants is well established to maintain moisture and suppress weeds.
- Do not over-fertilize the plant with nitrogen. Only apply supplemental fertilizer if plant leaves are pale green. Add lime to make sure the pH level is at least 6.0. You should suspect that soil is too acid if germination is poor and leaf tips and margins are yellow or brown.
Watering the spinach plant
When growing spinach in containers, avoid water stagnation as it will lead to the development of rot and various fungal diseases. And, avoid wetting the foliage. Maintain the soil moist but not soggy or wet. Also taking care of good drainage in the pot is necessary.
Fertilizing and mulching spinach plant
For growing healthy spinach, you have to provide nitrogen. At the time of planting, you can mix time-based fertilizer, or you can add a lot of compost or well-rotted manure, this will give nutrients slowly. Feeding the spinach plant with fish emulsion, compost or manure tea in the middle of the growth and so on is a nice organic way to promote the plants. If you have not done added time-based fertilizer, you can feed the plant with balanced liquid fertilizer at regular intervals. Do mulching, even if you’re growing spinach in pots from seeds. Mulching plants with organic matter will help in retaining moisture.
Common pests and diseases in growing Palak from seeds
Aphids or plant lice are fond of spinach plants. A high-pressure water spray will knock them off or try one of the organic sprays. Caterpillars love spinach. Use one of the biological worm sprays (Bacillus thuringiensis) to take out these pests without hazard to people, pets and useful insects.
Spinach leaf miners, slugs, aphids, and also caterpillars can all cause problems for spinach plants. Blight and downy mildew can affect your plants. Growing spinach in cool weather and taking care to keep leaves dry can help immensely in keeping your greens healthy and out of harm’s way. Regularly check the underside of plant leaves for leaf miners or aphids, and treat with the pesticide spinosad if the infestation gets out of control. In areas where certain pests or diseases are especially prevalent, try switching to varieties that are resistant to the particular problem in the region.
Spinach harvesting process
Individual spinach leaves can be picked anytime before the flower stalk forms. Older leaves are often stripped off the plants first allowing the young plant leaves to continue to grow. Provided the growing point is not damaged, all plant leaves can be cut off to within 2 inches of the soil.
Harvest spinach about 5 weeks after sowing. You can cut the leaves 2 to 3 inches above the soil and allow them to grow back before harvesting again, which will provide a consistent harvest throughout the season. You can harvest the outer leaves, leaving the inner ones to continue growing, or you can harvest the entire plant at once. Spinach can be stored for 1 to 2 weeks at 32°F and 95% relative humidity. You might be interested in Horticulture Practices in Summer.