Grow spinach to boost your healthy diet
Spinach or ‘Palak” as it is called in India, became famous after Popeye the sailor man cartoon made it the very plant that gave popeye his immerse strength.
A leafy green vegetable of the order Caryophyllales, family Amaranthaceae, subfamily Chenopodioideae, its leaves are mainly consumed fresh or are preserved via canning, freezing or dehydration methods.
Spinach hold around 3.5 milligrams of iron per 100gm which was miscalculated as 35 milligrams when a German chemist misplaced a decimal point. However, it doesn’t mean that spinach is not nutritious.
Spinach is an excellent source of vitamin K, vitamin A, vitamin C, and folate as well as being a good source of manganese, magnesium, iron, and vitamin B2. It is considered a healthy food and a necessary component for a healthy diet.
Palak is used in many Indian cuisine signature dishes like Palak Paneer, Palak paratha, Saag, as well as an accompanist in meat dishes like kebabs and minced cakes.
Palak seeds can be easily brought in your local nursery or from a prominent store online. Best planted in spring, Palak grows best in cool climates but tend to shrivel up and dry in hot climates.
If you are planting in late autumn, you will have a fresh harvest come spring. During the hot summer, make sure that they get a partial shade by planting tall crops like beans or corn alongside them.
Whether you sow palak seeds directly into the ground or in containers/ planters, the soil medium you use should be rich in nitrogen. As nitrogen ensures leaf growth, you can use compost to fertilize your soil.
Palak, spinach seeds should be sown ½ inch deep and 2 inches apart to provide ample space for the leafy foliage.
Try to grow them in a single spot as transplanting them may spoil the very fragile roots. Also spinach seeds don’t store well so fresh seeds are always recommended.
Make sure the seeds are not exposed to air and lightly pat the soil above them. The soil should be light and fluffy.
You can also add mulch (Hay, Straw, Dried Leaves) to prevent weeds from sprouting up in the planting area. As mentioned before the watering should be consistent.
You can spray the water or you can also use a steady drip method to keep the soil moist and prevent water clogging. Spinach is a small plant whose roots don’t go that deep so a large container isn’t necessary.
Palak doesn’t grow well in water clogged soil so make sure the soil is free from clumps to make it well-drained soil. They also like moderately moist soil so the watering should be consistent.
Make sure the flow isn’t as strong as that can damage the root system that is growing. Also too much water will encourage the plant to start flowering which will make it inedible.
If the weather is hot, you can use winter shades to provide cover from the hot sun and water the plants so that the soil won't dry out.
Fertilize the plants with organic nitrogen-based compost or manure to promote a good healthy growth of leaves. Make sure you thin the plants so that the leaves have ample space to grow.
Weed out the weak ones so that the nutrients don’t get wasted. Also make sure that the plants don’t start flowering (Bolting) as they are not edible and will lessen the harvest.
You can also plant radish along the Palak as radishes repel leave miners like aphids from the plants alongside them.
Keep an eye on the plant after 40-45 days, as the Palak leaves when they fully mature become bitter to taste.
When they reach the desired height, harvest them. You can harvest the plant as a whole or you can also remove the outer leaves which will allow the inner leaves to develop and continue the cycle.
However, harvest the entire crop at the first sign of flowering or bolting as it is called in the gardening kingdom.
You can use a sharp knife to cut through the stem to harvest the leafy parts of the plant. Spinach leaves stay fresh in the refrigerator for around 10-14 days at a temperature of 5°C to 10°C.
Make sure you wash the leaves thoroughly and remove any yellow leaves before storing them.