November. It’s the month of giving thanks, of harvest and of plenty. On Florida’s First Coast, it’s also a perfect time to put in your fall garden with a featured vegetable – spinach!
While the rest of the country is harvesting the last of the season’s vegetables before winter sets in, Floridians are enjoying the flexibility of adding winter crops at will. Beets, broccoli and cabbage, collards and radishes can go in this month and even in December. But if you’re only going to plant one vegetable this month, I recommend spinach.
Due to Florida’s warm climate, gardeners have a narrow planting window for Spinach, which produces seed stalks when spring days grow longer. Fortunately, planting spinach is simple enough to squeeze in between Thanksgiving meal prep and Christmas shopping! Vegetable Gardening in Florida says, “Spinach may be grown in any good soil that is well fertilized and not too acidic. As with all other vegetables, shallow and clean cultivation is essential.”
Spinach is one vegetable that most gardeners recommend starting from seed every time. The tender plants don’t transplant well and most families can benefit from a patch full of plants so sow those seeds freely!
How to plant spinach:
1) Turn homemade compost or “Black Cow” into your soil at least 1 foot deep to loosen the soil & add nutrients. Spinach likes nitrogen rich soil.
2) Plant seeds ½” to 1” deep about 3” apart, covering loosely with soil and watering in.
3) If it’s a warm day, water spinach twice! Watering cools the soil, which helps this cold-weather plant to grow and keeps it sweet and tender. Water to moisten but don’t leave the soil soggy.
4) Repeat planting each week in November so you can enjoy harvesting spinach all winter long!
5) Harvest outside leaves as they grow large enough to eat. Harvesting this way allows the plant to continue to produce. If your plant starts to bolt (produce a seed stalk), harvest the whole plant by cutting just below the soil line and enjoy one last meal of freshly harvested greens!