Spinach is a healthy and tasty vegetable and contains many nutrients that can help treat various diseases and health conditions, such as improving cognitive functions and fatigue.
It will also increase your choice of leafy greens in the winter months. You can use and prepare it in different ways; young fresh leaves are mostly used for salads, the older and bigger leaves are usually cooked, and the excess leaves can be blanched and frozen, and saved for later.
And the best part is you don’t need a garden to grow this healthy vegetable. Growing spinach indoors is easy; all you need is a window ledge or balcony.
Can You Grow Spinach Indoors Year-Round?
The best part about growing spinach indoors is that you can grow it all year round, and not only that, spinach plants grow indoors very well.
All you will need is water, potting soil/potting mix, and seeds. Also, containers, or a small pot or two that are at least 6–12-inches deep.
Since growing spinach indoors in pots doesn’t need much care, you can grow spinach indoors with little to no experience in gardening and enjoy its health benefits. You just have to provide the right soil or potting mix and fertilizer; also, make sure your spinach plants receive regular water.
Here are the steps for growing spinach indoors:
- Prepare the soil mix. It should be a neutral pH soil with organic matter.
- Plant the seeds into the pots.
- Keep it at a cool temperature, especially if you live in a tropical climate. Avoid exposing it to too much sunlight, only for 4 to 6 hours per day.
- Water it regularly.
- Fertilize and mulch when necessary.
- Don’t forget to check for pests and diseases.
- Thin the leaves.
- Enjoy your harvest.
Different Types of Spinach That You Can Grow Indoors
First, you should know the three types of spinach plants; you can choose depending on your taste.
- Savory: This type handles the cold weather very well but needs regular and precise cleaning of leaves.
- Semi-savory: This type is better at resisting bolting and diseases. They’re an excellent choice for a home garden or indoors growing. There are four main varieties: Teton, Catalina, Indian summer, and Tyee; Tyee is best for growing all year round.
- Smooth leafed: This type has smooth, flat leaves that are easy to clean. This type is usually used for canning or freezing.
When choosing between different varieties of spinach you want to grow indoors, you have to consider how much sunlight you can provide and in what type of climate you live in.
For a tropical climate, it’s best to choose varieties that perform well in hot and humid weather, such as Catalina, Indian Summer, Bloomsdale longstanding, and Malabar.
For a more cold climate, it’s better to choose varieties that perform well in cold and winter tolerant types of spinach. These include Winter Bloomsdale and Tyee.
Growing Spinach in Pots
Choose a pot that’s about 6 to 10 inches deep, you don’t need very deep pots, but you’ll need wide pots to give enough room for the spinach plants to continue to grow and spread.
You should sow spinach seeds about half an inch deep. Spinach seeds will germinate in around 7–14 days. Remember to keep the soil moist and cool during germination; the recommended temperature during germination is about 60 degrees Fahrenheit.
The key to fast-growing spinach is soil rich in organic matter with compost or fertilizer added to aid water retention.
Seeds and Planting
If you’re planting spinach for the first time, it’s best to use seeds of different varieties. A week before planting, soak the spinach seeds in warm water for one day. This will increase the chance of seed germination. When you remove them from the water, gently dry them with a paper towel.
After soaking the seeds in the water, place them in an airtight container and make sure they’re kept in a cool place for a week. This will retain enough moisture for the seeds to complete the first two stages of germination. When your spinach seeds are ready to plant, scatter the seeds around the pot and cover them with half an inch of soil.
Growing Spinach Seedlings
You’ll need a seed tray or container with cells and universal soil to grow seedlings. Place a seed in each of the cells, at a depth of about half an inch into the soil. Moisten the soil and cover the crops with a film. Keep at the temperature from 65 degrees Fahrenheit to 70 degrees Fahrenheit. After 10 days, remove the film. When you see that your seeds are growing nicely and need additional space, transplant them into pots.
You should provide enough space for spinach to grow. If you want to harvest young spinach leaves, then 3 inches will be enough. If you want to pick larger leaves, then give the plants more space, at least 5 to 6 inches.
When you’re growing spinach in pots or containers, use a loamy soil rich in organic matter. The soil pH should be neutral, and you should avoid soil that clogs the drainage holes; well-draining soil is the best choice to grow spinach indoors.
Temperature and Light
Spinach is a cool-season crop, so optimal growing conditions should be between 50 degrees Fahrenheit to 75 degrees Fahrenheit. Mature plants can even tolerate lower temperatures, down to 20 degrees Fahrenheit, but young spinach will bolt when exposed to temperatures below 40 degrees Fahrenheit. Generally, the best temperature for growth is from 60 degrees Fahrenheit to 75 degrees Fahrenheit.
If you grow spinach on a window sill or balcony, you should expose the plant to direct sunlight for at least 4 to 6 hours per day, depending on the spinach type. Although direct sunlight is best for growing spinach, it will also grow in partial shade.
If you’re growing spinach indoors without access to sunlight, then LED lights are the best choice. In the early stages, seedlings will require between 14 and 15 hours of light per day, and between 8 and 10 hours of light is recommended for adult spinach plants.
Watering and Care
Water spinach regularly and avoid exposing it to extreme heat. Try not to wet the foliage and keep the soil moist and not too soggy. Pots with drainage holes are vital for preventing this problem.
Growing spinach indoors doesn’t require any special care; all you need to do is water it regularly and, of course, don’t forget to fertilize to make the spinach grow faster.
Fertilizing and Mulching
Nitrogen-based fertilizers are best for growing spinach. You can also use a balanced liquid fertilizer or even manure. Fish emulsion, manure tea, or compost will also provide your plant with the needed nutrients and promote growth. Keep in mind that you should apply fertilizers when the spinach has sprouted and not after it’s almost fully grown.
You should also mulch even if you grow spinach in pots; it will help retain moisture and improve the fertility of the soil. But be careful as over mulching can bury and suffocate the plant.
Pests and Diseases
You can avoid this problem by planting basilic, chamomile, or dill beside your spinach or in between spinach. These are known to keep pests away and manage the problem organically with no need for chemical sprays.
Spinach leaves are ready for harvest when the plant has grown at least 5 or 6 leaves, and they’re 3 to 4 inches long.
You can harvest small spinach leaves simply by cutting them with scissors at the stem. It’s best to start harvesting the outer, older leaves and working your way into the center of the plant. Leave the new inner leaves so they can continue to grow, and you can harvest them later.
If the temperature is too humid or hot, you’ll see small yellow or green flowers developing on the plant pretty fast, so it’s important to keep cool growing conditions.
The flowering and bolting of the plant thicken the foliage, and the taste of spinach becomes more bitter. So for a better taste, it’s best to harvest the spinach before it starts flowering.
Usage and Storage of Spinach
Spinach grows very quickly, so you’ll have to cut it regularly to keep it fresh. Newly harvested spinach juice is very refreshing, and young leaves can also be used for salads. If you cannot use it immediately, it can be blanched and frozen.
For older and larger spinach leaves, remove the stalks as they contain harmful and toxic substances. This is especially important if you feed small children spinach, as they can be more sensitive to poisoning.
Since spinach is rich in nitrates, reheating will make it toxic as it releases lutein, which poses a risk of poisoning. Don’t store the spinach for the next meal and don’t reheat it; it’s best to throw the leftovers away or eat them cold.
5 Health Benefits of Spinach
- Spinach contains more than 15 different vitamins and minerals that are crucial for your health.
- It’s a rich source of antioxidants.
- It strengthens the immune system and helps with constipation.
- There’s more potassium in spinach than in bananas, and it’s a great source of vitamin A, so it’s good for eye health.
- It also contains a lot of calcium and magnesium, which reduces the risk of developing diabetes.
Frequently Asked Questions
How Long Does Spinach Take to Grow Indoors?
Spinach is a fast-growing plant. The time of growth varies depending on the type of spinach, but usually, it takes 6–8 weeks after you plant spinach to harvest.
Will Spinach Regrow After Cutting?
The answer is yes; you can cut the plant with scissors or a knife at the base of the leaf, and spinach will sprout again. As long as the growth point is not damaged and you keep the temperature cool enough, it will most likely regrow again for two or more harvests.
What Grows Well With Spinach?
If you’re thinking of expanding your small indoor garden, it’s good to know which vegetables you can and can’t plant next to your spinach. It will grow well together with lettuce, peas, and radish. But avoid planting it with potatoes or brassicas.
What if You Live in a Tropic Climate?
Spinach is a cool-season crop and tends to bolt in warmer climates, but growing it in tropical climates isn’t as hard as you might think. As mentioned above, you can grow a variety that does well in hot and humid climates. These include Catalina, Indian Summer, and Malabar.
You’ll need to provide shade and a cool temperature for indoors growing. In this case, it’s better if you grow spinach indoors, away from the window, and not on the balcony. You’ll also need to water more often to keep the soil moist and cool.
Can You Eat Spinach That Has Bolted?
Bolting is a process that cannot be avoided with leafy greens such as cabbage, lettuce, and spinach. Once it starts to bolt, the leaves become tasteless or bitter, so they are no longer edible.
You can try and pinch off the flower buds once it starts bolting, but this will only stop the process for a short time. All you can do is let the flowering process reach its end and then collect the seeds for next season’s harvest.
Growing spinach indoors is very simple, and you don’t need to be an experienced gardener to grow spinach at home. It’s a fast-growing plant that can be used for several different kinds of food and preparation. You can steam and saute the leafy greens or make a salad or healthy juice from young leaves.
It’s also rich in vitamin C and E; contains vitamin A, B1, B2, and B6, and many minerals such as magnesium, sodium, and calcium. It strengthens the immune system, eliminates constipation, speeds up carbohydrate metabolism, cares for your beautiful skin, hair, and nails, and has many more health benefits.
So if you live in an apartment and don’t have an outdoor garden, you can easily grow spinach inside. It’s beginner-friendly, and doesn’t need much additional care.
Once you discover the joys of gardening and preparing food with your homegrown spinach, you might want to “branch out” and expand your indoor home garden.