Had I ever told you how much I like spinach? It is SUCH a favorite veggie. And until recently, it was almost impossible for me to grow it. Spinach pretty obviously doesn’t care for my sandy, acidic, East Texas garden soil.
First, there is the problem of getting it to germinate. It just wouldn’t.
Until I learned a technique called “cold stratification”; exposing the seed to a moist, cold environment for a week or so prior to planting. In fact, I usually just leave it in the fridge, wrapped in a moist paper towel and placed in a jar or plastic bag to keep it damp until it actually sprouts.
Then I had to learn some tricks to raising the pH of the soil to bring up the pH of the spinach row without overdoing the rest of the garden with too much lime. (Wood ashes worked into the row along with compost will do the trick to get the spinach off and growing by boosting pH without long-term changes.)
The newly sprouted seeds will go into the ground toward the end of January, covered with a light row cover to protect the seedlings from flea beetles and other pests as they grow. We should have fresh spinach some time in March. I’m sure looking forward to those spring salads!
I tend to have all sorts of seeds in various states of cold-stratification this time of year. Parsley and Lavender also tend to be easier to sprout if given a short stint in the fridge, and others do better if pre-sprouted (like sweet peas) or soaked for a day or two (like beets.) If you go searching for a snack in our house, be prepared to find a selection of seeds-in-waiting hiding out in the refrigerator drawer alongside the cheese.
If you’d like to share garden tricks or talk about the challenges, I hope you’ll come have coffee with me on Tuesday morning at Athens Organic Supply in Athens. I’ll be there about 9:00 for an hour or so. It’s been really fun to meet with a friend or two for some good conversation. The coffee pot is always full and the chocolate is always hot!
Hope to see you there. 🙂
UPDATE: March 20 – Just so you’ll know, my early planting of spinach yielded a really poor rate of germination. Soon after it was planted, we had an extended cold spell with temps in the low 20’s, ice and freezing rain for several days. Even under the row cover, the ground was just too wet and cold for too long. Most of the seed rotted instead of growing. I soaked some new seed last week and replanted today. With luck, we should still have a crop of spinach before our cool season is over. I sure hope so. It isn’t spring without fresh spinach!