Spinach is not just for Popeye! It’s for Kelly too! Love the stuff! The great news? It’s super easy to grow, requiring very little fussing or primping. Matador Spinach is one of my favourite cut-and-come again crops. Read on to see how I grow mine…
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First some Spinach History
Spinach originated in Persia (Now Known as Iran) by the 7th Century it had made its way to China, by means of a gift from the King of Nepal. The Nepali king sent an envoy, with spinach to Emperor Taizong during the Tang Dynasty. Spinach eventually found its way to Europe in the 11th Century, arriving first in Spain. It did not reach England until the 14th Century and by then Spinach was primarily Known as the ‘Spanish Vegetable’ it quickly became popular as a vegetable and salad green, providing crops in early spring, at a time when other vegetables were scarce.
Health Benefits of Spinach
It’s not for nothing, that Spinach is celebrated as a Superfood! This leafy vegetable is loaded with beneficial nutrients and the big bonus?- its naturally low in calories, making it fantastic for the waistline too! Have a look at why you should be growing Spinach in your vegetable garden…
Vitamins and Mineral Content of Spinach
Spinach is a rich source of calcium, which helps towards keeping your bones and teeth healthy.
The Magnesium in Spinach helps to increase your metabolism, regulate your heart rhythm and maintain healthy blood pressure.
The Iron content in Spinach helps your body to use its energy more efficiently.
Why You Should Include Spinach in Your Diet
1. Cancer Preventative
Spinach has a high source of zeaxanthin and carotenoids that can flush out the free radicals from your body. These free radicals make your body vulnerable to many diseases including cancer. Including Spinach in your diet can be a powerful ally against Cancer.
2. Reduce Blood Sugar
Spinach is a rich source of fibre and fibre doesn’t digest easily. This means Spinach does not cause immediate spikes in blood sugar levels. Soluble fibre is responsible for reducing blood glucose levels and helping control diabetes. A Handful of cooked spinach is said to have about four to five grams of fibre.
3. Bone Health
Spinach contains vitamin K which supports bone health. Improving calcium absorption within your body.
4. Aids in Weight Loss
Looking to lose a little weight? Spinach is a wonderful weight loss Buddy! Its high amounts of fibre help aid digestion, regulate low blood sugar and prevent constipation. A superfood that is low in Calories and gives the body a boost! Spinach is also wonderful at providing that ‘fuller for longer’ feeling, helping to curb your appetite and keep you on track.
5. Eye Health
The antioxidants that are found in spinach are lutein and zeaxanthin and these help to maintain good eyesight. These properties also help protect the eyes from cataracts and other age-related eye problems. The vitamin A found in spinach helps to maintain the protective mucus membranes of the eye that are essential for healthy, functioning eyesight.
6. Brain Function
The Vitamin K in Spinach helps to maintain a healthy nervous system, beneficial for the young and elderly alike. It also has a high concentration of an antioxidant called lutein, which is helpful in cleansing toxins from the brain and prevents age-related mental decline.
How To Grow Matador Spinach
So now we know a little more about the fabulousness that is Spinach! Let’s have a go at growing it! Here is how I grow my Favourite variety ‘Matador Spinach’
Matador is an all-year-round variety with rich dark green leaves. An ideal variety for succession sowing outdoors from March onwards for spinach leaves throughout the growing season. Also suitable for ‘baby leaf’ growing.
How to sow Spinach Seeds
Sow Spinach Seeds Indoors– Sow Early April in modules, pots or trays filled with compost on a warm windowsill. Sow seeds 1 cm deep, germination should occur within five to 14 days, plant out once large enough to handle, around late April. Be sure to harden off before planting Outside.
What Does Hardening Off Mean?
Plants raised indoors or in a greenhouse environment, need to be acclimatised to cooler temperatures and increased air movement for about two to three weeks before they are planted outdoors permanently . This is a ‘toughening up’ practice to prepare the plants for their new environment.
How to Harden Off
Place your plants out for a couple of hours in a shady part of the garden. The next day, leave them out again for two hours, but this time allow the plants an hour of direct sunshine in the morning. Gradually continue to increase the length of time the plants are in direct sunshine over the course of roughly two weeks.
Sow Spinach Seeds Outdoors– Sow March- May in shallow drills, around 2 cm in depth, in rows 30cm apart. When seedlings have emerged, thin out to around 20 cm between plants. Sow once a month thereafter until September for a succession of crops.
Where to Plant Spinach
Spinach does not like the heat of summer, so for a crop with longevity, choose a spot in your vegetable garden that is protected from the midday sun. I like to grow mine in the shadow of Sweetcorn, they provide a natural sun barrier, allowing in some light but deflecting the heat. You can also companion plant Spinach alongside, Brussels Sprouts, Broccoli, Cabbage and Cauliflower for a similar benefit.
Spinach Water Requirements
Spinach needs consistently moist soil during its growing cycle. Keep on top the watering, more so during periods of drought
When To Harvest Matador Spinach
- Harvest young baby spinach leaves during growth or wait until they reach full-size
- To keep your Spinach plant producing. Harvest leaves by removing only the outer leaves and allowing the center leaves to grow on. Once you’ve harvested your spinach in this way, water it, and allow it to regenerate. Spinach leaves will begin to regrow in a matter of days
What does Matador Spinach taste Like ?
Matador Spinach has a lovely sweet flavour perfect for salad dishes. It also has a wonderful texture when added to cooked dishes such as risotto’s or pasta bakes. Like all Spinach the freshness and taste of homegrown, picked fresh from the garden is hard to beat.
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