Perpetual Spinach also known as leaf beet, or spinach beet can be grown in some of the toughest conditions. This “spinach” is part of the chard or beet family, and has more of a “true flavor”. Considered a biennial, which means it will produce the first year, then goes to seed the consecutive year.
Pro’s to growing perpetual spinach
There are many advantages to growing this plant, which boasts a more enticing product for gardeners and farmers alike. These are the most notable advantages to growing this uncommon variety.
- Only requires sown twice a year (spring and late summer)
- High nutrient value
- Heat tolerant
- Cold tolerant
- High yield
Perpetual spinach tolerates some shade, particularly in the summer months. The plants enjoy moist soil, but will withstand droughts unlike normal spinach. Nutrient rich soil will ensure that your plants will continue to produce high quality tasting foliage.
Dig the ground over well, and add plenty of organic matter (and or fertilizer) to your soil. Rake the soil so that it is as smooth as possible (loamy or fine quality soil is preferred).
Sowing and Planting
Spring planting will keep the plants producing all summer long. Make sure to plant a second crop in late summer as this will allow for harvesting into winter, and even the following spring.
For summer plants, you can start seeds indoors in pods in very early spring before the last frost. Transfer plants outside after hardening them off, and after the last frost of the season (only mature plants will be able to handle frost conditions so keep your babies safe!)
If you plan to grow larger leaves for cooking, be sure to plant your rows with enough space between each plant allowing for proper airflow and sunshine. There are multiple schools of thought when it comes to planting techniques, choose the right approach for your situation.
When starting from seed, make sure to be generous with the amount that you sow (you can always thin the plants out later when they start to sprout).
Plant rows 18 inches apart, with 15 inches between each plant (you can plant in clusters). Thin rows once plants start to emerge picking only the strongest ones to keep. Once the plants begin to grow small leaves, you can cut these to promote denser and larger growth.
Final words on Perpetual Spinach
Perpetual spinach can be harvested all year round if you follow these steps. During winter months, insulate the base of your plants with mulch or place under small cold frames. Winter harvest will offer a more tender product, so it is worth the extra work protecting your plants.