Early spring spinach

Spinach (Spinacia oleracea).


The first spinach, Carmel, was planted on April 3 at the front of a raised bed with onion plants at the back. Above is a photo of the little sprouts on April 22. That’s not much growing in almost 3 weeks.

Carmel is supposedly a fast growing spinach recommended for early spring planting.


The 2 photos directly above and below were taken on May 3, almost 2 more weeks gone by. The Carmel spinach plants have grown some true leaves. They look healthy enough, but they surely aren’t as fast growing as they are advertised to be.

Temperatures have been below normal this spring, which may be a factor in the slow growth of all the vegetables I planted as soon as the ground could be worked. As I’ve mentioned in other posts, I’m thinking I should lay this idea of planting as soon as the ground can be worked to rest in the graveyard of gardening myths that don’t work for me. I’m making a note that spring planting should not begin until May 1, onion and leek plants excepted.

On April 18, all 4 spinach varieties–Corvair, Space, Tyee, and Carmel–were planted, again in front of the onion plants in adjoining raised beds. Below is a photo of the Tyee plants on May 3. Over 2 weeks, and all I can say is they are up and not dying.


Another factor that may be slowing the growth of spring spinach is the pH of the soil. According to Johnny’s Selected Seeds catalog, spinach does best with a pH between 6.5 and 7.5.


I’m learning to use my new Kelway Soil Tester, seen above. It came with green sheets of conditioning film that must be used to clean the metal plates on the tester before each test. The tester should be placed in the soil deep enough to cover the metal plates. The soil must to firmed up around the tester. The needle on the tester, which rests at 7.0, will swing far to the right, and then start back down toward the lower numbers. A correct reading is usually reached in 2 to 3 minutes.

I tested the soil between the Carmel rows. It tested 6.7. Within the range but on the acid side. Although lime is best added in the fall, I decided to try sprinkling a little bit of lime between the rows of all the planted spinach and watering it in thoroughly.

Now, wait and see. I’ll do another soil test in a couple of weeks. Between the warmer weather–80° F. temps predicted for next week, and the addition of lime, perhaps the spinach will start to grow.

My other thought is to prepare a new bed, incorporating the lime more thoroughly, and plant yet another batch of spinach–all 4 varieties–here the first week of May. That will be a good test for my theory of waiting for May to start planting. As an aside, 3 pea plants have finally made an appearance under the row covers. So, I think I will plant more pea seeds this week too. Still under the row covers in the same raised beds, to see if the May peas will catch up with the April peas. I think they will. If so, I’ll write about it in a new pea post.

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