Thomas J. Koske | 6/24/2005 7:02:06 PM
It’s time for early spring planting of spinach. "Spinach enthusiasts celebrate their love of the vegetable every spring and fall here in Louisiana," says LSU AgCenter horticulturist Dr. Tom Koske, himself a hopeless addict.
The horticulturist says spinach is in the beet and chard family and needs cool weather to grow. It will tolerate quite a bit of cold, so plant in February and up to 60 days prior to expected high temperatures. "We don't see much spinach left by June; it goes to seed quickly then," Koske notes.
Spinach needs a loamy, non-acid soil of pH 6 to 7. More acid soil will ruin your chances. Incorporate 4 pounds of 8-24-24 fertilizer per 100-foot row (or per 330 square feet). A side dressing of ammonium nitrate will be needed in three to four weeks after the plants come up. Apply 3/4 to 1 pound per 100 foot row.
Soak spinach seed for several hours or overnight before planting at 1/4-inch deep. Seeds germinate in 1 to 1 1/2 weeks.
Several varieties are available to choose from, Koske points out, especially in the newer and more vigorous hybrids. There are smooth leaved type, savoyed (or crinkled) and in-betweens called semi-savoyed. The smooth leaved and semis are easier to wash at preparation time.
Koske says some good producing varieties are Melody, Tyee, Olympia, Coho, Skookum, Hybrid 7 and Bloomsdale.
If grassy weeds take over, Poast herbicide will take them out. A spray of Basic Copper fungicide will control most foliar diseases, and Malathion insecticide will control aphids and beetles.
Related yard and garden topics are available by contacting an extension agent in your parish LSU AgCenter office. Also, look for Gardening and Get It Growing links in the Feature section of the LSU AgCenter Web site: old.lsuagcenter.com.