With the cool spring most of the country is experiencing this year, gardeners still have time to order and plant organic heirloom spinach seeds. If you hurry you can still get luscious green salads from nutritious spinach, plus enough to freeze for the coming year. This crisp dark green vegetable packs a powerhouse of vitamins and minerals, especially folic acid, iron and antioxidants. It’s one of the most widely grown crops in temperate climates throughout the world and has been cultivated for centuries.
Organic spinach seeds can be saved from year to year once the plants bolt. Many gardeners enjoy planting more than one strain to create vibrant and healthy salads.
The history of spinach shows its origins in the Fertile Crescent of the Middle East in and around Persia. It was carried to Europe and became extremely popular in Italy where it was incorporated into many popular recipes that are still enjoyed today. This green leafy vegetable was also taken to China in approximately 647 A.D. where it was called the Persian green.
The best time to plant organic heirloom spinach seed is early spring, and again in the fall, as the plants can’t tolerate the heat of summer. Spinach of all varieties prefer temperatures in the 65-75 degree range. The seeds won’t germinate if planted when the weather exceeds 85 degrees although it is hardy enough for an occasional dip to 15-18 degrees. When exposed to heat the plants will go into their reproductive phase and begin to bolt. The leaves that remain are often too bitter to enjoy. Once the summer heat dissipates the quick growing green can be replanted for fall produce. The seeds do best in a slightly humus soil that is moist but not overly wet.
Organic spinach seeds can be grown to produce leaves that are smooth, savoyed and semi-savoyed. The following are popular varieties of each type:
• Smooth spinach – Giant Nobel Spinach seed will produce large tender leaves perfect for salads and freezing or canning.
• Savoy spinach – Bloomsdale Long Standing Spinach Seed is the most popular and well-known variety. It is a fast growing (39 days) variety that people often choose to plant so they can begin harvesting baby spinach leaves as soon as possible.
• Semi-Savoy Spinach – Merlo Nero Spinach seed raises a prolific crop of slightly savoy leaves that are great for salads as well as using for cooking.
Organic heirloom spinach seeds are one of the most important vegetables for the home gardener to raise as opposed to purchasing at the store. It is estimated that this vegetable loses many of its nutrients, but perhaps equally troubling is that when grown commercially, it often absorbs and retains pesticides. It is best grown in the home garden and picked just prior to use. Nutrients will be retained when eaten raw, steamed, microwaved or quickly boiled. The nutrients found in dark green spinach leaves include phytochemicals and antioxidants such as carotenoid lutein, which is important for the health of the human retina. Plants grown from heirloom spinach seeds include Vitamins A, B, C, E, K and minerals such as copper, zinc and phosphorous.
The Sustainable Seed Company offers a variety of heirloom spinach seeds for home gardeners to enjoy. The varieties such as New Zealand Spinach Seeds which have been grown since at least 1877 are bolt resistant. It’s not too late to plant heirloom spinach seeds if you order them as soon as possible, otherwise you may have to wait until fall.