THE PERFECT WAY TO CULTIVATE ORGANIC SPINACH, SUMMER OR ROUND

The leaves of spinach are a most desirable vegetable, the summer varieties being classed as round because the seeds are round, winter varieties as prickly because the seeds are prickly.

Summer spinach is very apt to run up to seed (bolt) in light soil, but the risk is reduced where the ground is heavier, rich and moisture-holding.

Varieties include The Carter, Long Standing Round, Victoria. One-tenth ounce of seed will sow a 30-ft. row, and seedlings appear in about twelve days.

Ready for Use.

First leaf pickings can be had in May from an early sowing, and with a succession of small sowings gatherings are available up to September. Time to elapse between sowing and picking is about twelve weeks.Soil Preparation.

A light soil is definitely not to the liking of summer spinach; even a short drought will cause the plants to bolt. But it can be made more substantial and moisture-holding by digging in rotted manure or decayed greenstuff; leaf-mould is very useful in this respect. Ground cannot be too rich for the crop.

The position should not be in full sun but where some shade falls, as between bean or pea rows. The full benefit of watering is secured if the plants are grown in 2-in. deep drills.

When and How to Sow.

The earliest sowing is usually made in February, and small successive sowings continue up to August. Drills are made 12 in. apart and the seed covered 1 in. deep. Germination is assisted by soaking the seed in water with the chill off for about twenty-four hours, previous to sowing.

Economy in seed and the trouble of later thinning out is effected by dropping the seed in threes every 8 in. along the drill, each group of seedlings being reduced to one.

Frequent soakings with water will be needed to keep the plants going in the absence of sufficient rain.

Gathering the Leaves.

The outside leaves are picked as they become large enough, a few only at a time from each plant. If a plant is stripped, it is finished; if two or three are taken at a time, it will continue to produce more until it is exhausted.

Preparing for Table.

Wash the leaves and remove coarse stems, before cooking. No green vegetable is more easily digested. It is rich in iron and in vitamins A, B and C.

SPINACH, WINTER OR PRICKLY

The prickly part of this spinach, which is for winter and spring use, is the seed. Varieties include Giant-leaved Winter and Long Standing Prickly.

Ready for Use.

Leaves are ready for picking in October, and onwards to March.

Soil Preparation.

Ground should be rich, and well drained. If it lies wet in winter this spinach may fail.

How and When to Sow. First sowing may be made in July, and small sowings at intervals until August, in drills 1 ft. apart, the seed to be covered 1 in. deep, and seedlings thinned out to leave plants 6 in. apart.

Other details as for summer spinach.

SPINACH, NEW ZEALAND

Where summer spinach fails, because of dry soil, New Zealand spinach has a reasonable chance of success, however hot the summer may be. The thick leaves, triangular in shape, are carried on stems which creep close to the ground.

Ready for Use.

First pickings in June, and on to September.

Soil Preparation.

Ground needs to be dug well and enriched with whatever humus-providing material is available – old stable or farmyard manure, hop manure, leaf-mould and decayed vegetation generally. The position should be fully exposed to sun, in as warm a spot as possible.

When and How to Sow.

It is not safe to sow outdoors until May, seed then being dropped in threes, the groups to be i8 in. apart, seedlings to be reduced to one at each position. It helps germination if the seed is first soaked for twenty-four hours.

Earlier plants, to provide the June pickings, are raised in a greenhouse, or hotbed frame, with a temperature of about 55 degrees. The seed is sown, singly, well apart in shallow boxes filled with leafy soil; the plants are hardened off in a cold frame and planted out in late May. As these occupy more space than outdoor raised plants (the longer season of growth helping them do so) they should be spaced 3 ft. apart.

Successional sowings are not necessary; one main sowing suffices.

Gathering the Leaves.

Plants should not be stripped but leaves picked here and there from the creeping stems, which continue to produce foliage until the autumn.

Other details as for summer spinach.

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