Spinach is one of the easiest vegetables to grow, even for beginner gardeners. It’s also a crop that you can harvest continually until it goes to seed. Just cut as many leaves as you need and let the rest continue to grow.
Spinach is fast-growing. It only takes around 5-6 weeks after you sow the seed before you can harvest some lovely fresh leaves. If you start with seedlings that you’ve purchased, you should be able to start harvesting within a couple of weeks.
Here’s everything you’ve ever wanted to know about how long it takes to grow spinach.
How Long Does It Take To Grow Spinach From Seed?
It should only take 5-6 weeks to start harvesting spinach leaves after you’ve propagated them from seed. But this can depend on what time of year you’re sowing the seed.
Generally, spinach is a cool-season annual. However, there are also varieties that grow happily throughout the warmer months. The ideal temperature for most spinach varieties is around 50 to 70 degrees Fahrenheit (10 to 21 degrees Celsius).
Cool-season spinach varieties should be sown in very early spring and again in late summer. This means you’ll have plenty of time to harvest the succulent green leaves before the plant starts to bolt.
Because many spinach varieties like the cool weather, as the days get longer and the weather warms up, this triggers the reproductive cycle of the plant. Therefore, the plant will start to produce a flower stalk and then seeds. This process is called “bolting.”
Depending on your climate and whether you plant spinach in full sun or partial shade, you may only have around 4 or 5 weeks to harvest leaves from each plant when you sow seeds in spring. That’s why it’s recommended to sow seeds successively every two or three weeks if you want a longer harvest.
Planting summer varieties in partial shade will also help to extend the harvesting time. Therefore, spinach is the perfect vegetable to grow in those spots that get morning sun and afternoon shade in your garden.
However, if you’re planting your spinach seeds in late summer and your winters are mild, you might be able to harvest leaves throughout the colder months. Conversely, if you do get really cold winters, you can cover your plants with a thick layer of mulch to overwinter them. Then, as the ground warms up, remove the mulch, and the plants will start to grow again.
How Long Does It Take To Grow Spinach From Seedlings?
Although spinach seedlings or transplants are readily available, some varieties don’t take kindly to being transplanted as this can cause them to bolt. Depending on the size of the seedlings, you should be able to harvest some of the leaves within a couple of weeks.
Therefore, if you’re after a fast crop and you’re prepared to continually replace your plants once they’ve bolted, this could be an option for you. This is also a good option when you’re planting spinach in the fall, as the cooler weather and the shorter days will help to inhibit bolting.
When planting your spinach seedlings out in the garden in spring, try to do this in the early morning or late afternoon. This avoids adding too much transplant shock because your seedlings will have time to adapt to the outdoor conditions before they get hit with the heat of the sun.
If you live in an area that gets quite hot, consider planting your spinach seedlings in a spot where they are shaded from the midday and afternoon sun. This should help to extend the harvesting time as well.
Another option is to grow your spinach in pots so that you can move these around to give your plants some shade in the warmer weather.
How long does it take Spinach to germinate?
If you plant your spinach seeds in loamy soil with lots of compost or organic matter, it should only take around five to ten days for the seeds to germinate. Bear in mind, though, that spinach seeds will not germinate well if the soil is too warm or too wet.
That’s why you should only plant the seeds in spring once the last frost has passed and then again in late summer once the soil starts to cool down. Apart from ensuring correct soil temperature, make sure that the soil is well-drained to avoid waterlogging.
When the seeds first germinate, you’ll see two long narrow leaves emerge from beneath the soil. These are the seed leaves or cotyledons. Around two days later, you’ll start to see the true leaves develop.
These leaves should be large enough to harvest in around four weeks. When harvesting, make sure that you only cut a few leaves at a time so that the plant can continue to grow more leaves.
Should I plant Spinach Seeds Indoors Or Outdoors?
Ideally, because spinach seeds are fairly easy to grow, you should direct-sow your seeds outdoors as soon as the last frost is over. There is really no need to start your seeds indoors. This also avoids having to transplant your seedlings out into the garden once the soil has warmed up a little.
On the other hand, if you plan to grow your spinach in pots, you can start your seeds indoors. Ideally, you should sow your seeds directly into the pots that you want your spinach to grow in.
Using this method, you should be able to grow spinach all year round as long as you do some successive planting. This means you can move your plants outside to receive a little morning sunlight and bring them back inside if there’s a danger of frost.
Spinach Lifecycle – How Long Does It Take For Spinach To Grow?
Spinach is an annual. This means it completes its entire life cycle in one year. How long it takes to complete this cycle depends entirely on the weather and the seasons.
A spinach plant that is grown from seed in the spring will produce lovely green leaves that you can harvest from around five weeks. If the temperature stays mild and you provide the plant with some afternoon shade, the plant will continue to produce fresh new leaves for a number of weeks.
Then, if the weather starts to warm up quickly and the days get longer, this will trigger the bolting mechanism of your spinach plant. When this happens, the plant will start to develop a central stalk that will grow tall. This stalk will produce flowers and, eventually, seeds.
Once the bolting has begun, the spinach leaves will start to taste bitter. They are still completely edible, but you may not like the taste or texture as they may also become a little rubbery.
Most times, it’s not easy to predict when your plant will start to bolt, and there’s generally nothing you can do to stop it. It’s the plant’s natural survival mechanism that is triggered by stress.
The only thing you can do is prolong the growing season by giving your spinach some afternoon shade, plenty of water, and adequate nutrients. Spinach really is one of the easiest and fasted vegetables to grow and deserves a prime spot in your garden.