Spring spinach

In the Transition Garden, we planted spinach in late September in our unheated 20′ x 24′ greenhouse.  We were picking this spinach in late November and early December, and let it rest in January and February in a dormant state.  Despite unknown varmints (perhaps voles) that got in there over the winter and dug up many of the plants, many others survived.  We began picking again in mid-March onward as the plants began to come out of dormancy and grow again.  In early May, now they are growing like crazy and we are picking a lot.

However, spinach knows when its time to think about seed production, and we are now seeing the first plants beginning to put up their seed stalks.  The plants are aware of the increased day length and warmth.  In the trade, this natural phase of ‘going to seed’ is known as ‘bolting.’  Its also sign that our continuous harvest time of leaves is drawing nigh.   We can see the seed stem beginning to elongate in some of the plants. The leaves have also gotten smaller and are more arrowhead shaped.

In another week or two, it will be time to do one last thorough harvest and pull out the plants to make way for summer crops like tomatoes, peppers and basil. We will leave a handful of these spinach plants to continue their process, go on to flowering and produce seed. We will then harvest the stalks and save the seed late in the season.

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