Spinach is a green bundle of minerals and vitamins. It is a cold-weather leafy vegetable that provides the body with irons, proteins, calcium, and many other essential nutrients needed for the production of red blood cells, repairing worn-out body tissues and building stronger bones.
Spinach is a fast-growing crop that thrives well in cold weather. It requires little maintenance to grow and thrive, such as adequate water, good soil, and proper harvesting.
Harvesting is the process of picking off spinach leaves, extending the harvest of your spinach plant.
Read this guide on how to harvest Spinach to learn the right picking timing and pointers on when to harvest spinach as well as how to preserve it after harvesting.
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Things You’ll Need to Harvest Spinach
Below are some of the things you will need to harvest Spinach:
Some Important Facts to Note
- When there is a spike in temperature (usually above 75 degrees Fahrenheit), Spinach tends to stop producing healthy leaves, and instead, it sprouts out a stalk seed of a flower, this process is known as bolting.
- Bolting of spinach leaves causes a somewhat bitter taste. Hence, the reason for harvesting spinach leaves during growth periods is for more production of leaves to promote continuous harvest and to maintain a healthy plant.
Here are some pointers to guide you on how to harvest this perishable plant.
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When to Harvest Spinach
Keep a watchful eye on your spinach garden. Harvest time is usually when the leaves are fully grown in multiples of 5 to 6 to the desired size (which is 4 – 6 inches in height).
It is crucial to pick out the leaves before the temperature rises, to avoid flowering or bolting. Any temperature rises from 75 degrees Fahrenheit will affect the Spinach. Spinach is said to be healthy when it is grown between a temperature of 50 to 70 degrees Fahrenheit.
Also, during the fall season, a temperature drop below 30 degrees Fahrenheit will cause frostbite the Spinach may not be able to hold. In this case, it is best to pull out the plant and quickly harvest all the plants you can.
Most variants of Spinach mature between 37-45 days, so don’t wait too long for bigger leaves. You can pick out the older plants first then leave the young upcoming ones to mature.
However, the young baby spinach leaves can also be harvested when they have grown to about 2 inches long. Baby spinach has a sweeter taste and softer tendency and is excellent to be eaten as raw foods.
But for freezing, cooking, or canning purposes, your best bet is the full-grown spinach leaves because they will yield more results.
How to Harvest Spinach
Now that you know the materials you will need and when to harvest Spinach, let’s now have a look at how to harvest Spinach:
Choose a Proper Harvesting Approach
There are points to consider before choosing an approach to harvest your spinach plant. Do you plan on making use of the entire plant or just a few leaves?
After you must have answered that, note that the best time of the day to harvest your Spinach is usually in the early morning or evening and not the hottest time of the day else the heat from the sun will weaken your freshly picked Spinach.
There are two methods to use when harvesting Spinach. First of all, to harvest just a few leaves, you can either use scissors to chop off the Spinach at the base of the stem or use your fingernails to pinch off the leaves at the stem. This method is suitable for harvesting baby spinach leaves.
Another method is for you to pull out the entire spinach plant from its stem base about 3 inches from the ground. This approach will make the plants to sprout and may give you a partial batch of a new harvest.
Another approach is to start harvesting the plant from the more significant, outer plants and then work your way to the middle, leaving the smaller ones some time to mature.
Harvest up to one-third part of the spinach leaves at a go. Ensure to leave an interval or wait a period of about 5 to 10 days just to allow the leaves to regrow.
If you notice an unusual stem thickness from the new growth, yellow-colored leaves, and flower buds sprouting out, it means the bolting process has begun.
Bolting affects the initial purpose of growing Spinach, which is producing leaves for culinary purposes. Instead, the spinach plants start to reproduce by flowering.
At this point, it is time to pull out your entire spinach plant. Prepare to plant a new batch of “succession” on a new area of your garden to promote proper soil rotation.
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Preserving Harvested Spinach
It is not enough to know how to harvest Spinach without preserving. Harvesting spinach from its stem base will speed up its decay, not to forget that Spinach is a perishable plant.
Good knowledge of how to preserve them will be an added advantage, especially if you don’t want to use them right away.
How To Preserve Harvested Spinach
1. Wash, blanch, and dip in cold water
There are several ways to preserve Spinach to promote longevity. But the first and foremost step is to clean your Spinach first thoroughly.
Wash off Spinach under a running tap to remove grits, dirt, damaged and discolored leaves from the harvested bunch. Afterward, soak into warm water for about a minute to kill off germs, this is known as blanching.
Then bring them out and perform a quick dip into ice-cold water to cool off. This will help retain their fresh and green color.
2. Dispose of colored and damaged leaves
All yellow colored and damaged leaves should be selected from the harvested bunch and thrown in the waste as they are not suitable to be preserved or used.
However, depending on the severity of the damage, if they are still vital, they can be used in preparing a quick stew or soup.
3. Preserve your Spinach
After washing, drain moisture off the Spinach using filter bowls or paper towels. For long term use, freshly harvested Spinach can be preserved in the refrigerator at a temperature of 39 to 50 Fahrenheit to prevent loss of folate.
Refrigerated Spinach can last for about ten days to fourteen days (two weeks) or longer, depending on how well the moisture is locked out of the plant.
Put together the Spinach to form a bunch and squeeze them together lightly to form a ball-like shape; this will also help in taking off the remaining moisture from the leaves.
Then wrap the squeezed ball of Spinach in a plastic bag and then in an airtight container before placing it inside the refrigerator. Spinach can also be stored in canned containers.
4. For use, take out the bunch of frozen Spinach, cut out the desired amount of leaves from the stem, and refrigerate the rest.
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As you can see, Spinach is indeed one of the most comfortable back yard garden vegetables to plant, cultivate, and harvest.
Just by using this guide on how to harvest Spinach, picking the right leaves at the right time, you can continue a cycle of healthy green Spinach for your benefit without hiring a professional or spending a dime.
Now that you know the key to harvesting spinach go ahead and perform some DIY harvesting and share your experience with us.