Spinach is a leafy green plant popularized by cartoons like Popeye The Sailor Man. Well, kids of the ’70s would know more.
It is highly nutritious for kids and adults alike and is straightforward to grow and maintain. Today we will learn if spinach can be grown indoors and what all is required to do so.
Why Should You Grow Spinach Indoors?
Whether to grow spinach indoors depends on a couple of factors. First, if you live in an urban area or setup, you may have little to no space for an outside garden.
Second, during winter, an outdoor garden for your spinach may not be that favorable. An indoor environment would be ideal.
In other instances, you could be living in an apartment where an outdoor garden is prohibited. When you grow spinach or any other vegetable indoors, you can control the production elements compared to growing them outside.
The good part is that growing and maintaining spinach indoors is possible with little fuss.
All you need is an excellent growing medium. Some ideas to explore include containers, potting soil, and hydroponics. You could also grow spinach in water.
We will guide you on how to grow spinach inside your house like a pro. Let’s get moving.
How to Grow Spinach Indoors from Seed?
If you love indoor plants and have grown them before, you shouldn’t find growing spinach inside your house a problem. All indoor plants share similar needs, such as water, sunlight, well-fertile soil, and enough daylight hours.
To start with, you will need to know what materials you need to grow your spinach indoors. Below, we highlight a list of materials that you want to check out.
Materials for Growing Spinach Indoors
Growing spinach indoors via seeds is doable with seed varieties such as Butterfly and Renegade.
This is handy for carrying the potting mix. You can pick from various sizes depending on your needs.
There are both small and large window boxes. However, it would be best to aim for something no less than 6-8 inches deep.
Ensure to have a tray underneath the wooden box to contain extra water.
The potting mix should be organic and sufficient to fill your window box. Avoid the temptation to use garden soil which could spread diseases to your spinach seedlings.
Spinach needs enough sunlight for optimum growth. To ensure your seedlings are receiving enough daylight hours, ensure to place the window boxes containing the seeds in a well-lit place.
When it comes to organic fertilizer, you have two options: the granular type and fish emulsion. The granular fertilizer, which most gardeners consider the best is slow releasing and is mixed with soil before planting.
Alternatively, indoor plant enthusiasts water their potting mix with fish emulsion. The downside of using fish emulsion is that it has an odor, and you will find it uncomfortable if you plant spinach in your living room.
Helpful in regulating temperature during seed starting and sprouting. Spinach thrives in temperatures from 4° to 23° (degrees) celsius.
A heat mat will help you maintain the temperature until they sprout.
Your indoor spinach plant needs enough water to grow. Keep your watering can filled to meet this need.
Growing Spinach Indoors
Now that you have assembled all the materials you need for planting spinach indoors let’s get down to the steps necessary to cultivate them.
1. Grab a Pot
Indoor plants work best with containers or pots, and your spinach will also need one. Some gardeners grow them best in seed trays.
Find a 6-8 inches pot to provide ample space for root growth and expansion. Don’t get your seeds yet if you haven’t identified the ideal pot for growing your spinach seedlings.
2. Sow your Seeds
The second step after getting your planting pot is to identify an ideal potting medium.
Ensure your potting mix has a high content of organic matter. Whether you buy it from a store or have a homemade mix, it should be highly fertile and well-drained.
When using a slow-release fertilizer during the mixing, follow the directions on the amounts to use. Mix the composition thoroughly.
Preferably, the soils should be loamy or crumbly to encourage the growth of spinach. Maintain the soil pH levels close to neutral.
While sowing the seeds ensure you provide adequate room for growth. If you bury the seeds too deep, they may fail to germinate.
To get things right, know the size of your plants at maturity and maintain a soil depth of no more than 8 inches. This will help you decide what potting size you should use and what spacing is adequate for your plant.
If, for example, you discover the leaves of the variety you bought are usually large at maturity, do a spacing of 5 inches from each seed when doing the planting. If the leaves are expected to be smaller, a spacing of 3 inches from seed to seed is healthy.
Check your potting mix or window box after a few days for germination.
3. Identify the Pot Position
Depending on what season you grow your spinach, the plant needs adequate sunlight to thrive. Not every patio or attic will have the optimal conditions for plant growth.
We advise against placing your pot in sunny areas during summer or springtime. Some little shade will be much more beneficial.
During fall, consider exposing your veggies to more sunlight spots indoors.
4. Check the Temperatures
Different vegetables have varied temperature requirements. It’s essential to know the temperature needs of your spinach plant, especially when growing them indoors.
Excessively high or low temperatures could wipe out your plant even before it has a chance to mature. The critical thing to do is check your thermostat to maintain a temperature range of 4°-23° Celsius.
Any temperature reading within this range is conducive for plant growth indoors. It’s unnecessary to keep your apartment that cold if you don’t want to. We recommend setting the temperatures at 10 degrees celsius for better results.
There are specific spinach varieties that can thrive in temperature extremes. However, in extreme temperatures like 32 degrees celsius, ensure a partial shade for your plant.
Having a heat mat is also handy to help you regulate the temperatures at the early stages of sprouting. They help to keep your potting mix warmer than the surrounding air.
Though not necessary to use them constantly, they can be helpful to prevent irregular and slow growth. Lay your heat mat underneath your potting mix or tray and plug it in.
You should stop using the heat mat once the seeds germinate.
5. Water your Spinach
Adequate water is good for your spinach, but too much of it is a pre-condition for fungal diseases and root rot. How you water the plant matters.
You should ensure the soils are moist but not wet—water the plant base to avoid splashing water on the foliage. The soil should be well-drained to prevent excess water accumulation.
6. Mulch and Fertilize your Spinach
Mulching and fertilizing your indoor plants are routine management practices you will have to follow regularly to keep them on a healthy growth path.
Mulching your spinach is necessary for the apparent reasons of preserving soil moisture, reducing weed growth, and maintaining soil temperatures.
During mulching, ensure to add more organic matter. Rotten manure is ideal for boosting growth indoors.
Nitrogen-based fertilizers also work well in promoting the growth of spinach. You can also consider using other fertilizers like compost, manure tea, or fish emulsion.
Apply fertilizer when the seeds are sprouting for maximum effect.
7. Pest and Diseases
Common Pests to watch out for when growing your spinach indoors are aphids, slugs, and caterpillars. However, you need not worry much about them since your plant is in a more controlled environment indoors than outside.
Use natural enemies or insecticidal soaps such as neem oil to control the aphids.
Slugs typically burrow into your Spinach foliage while the caterpillars chew on them. You can control them using bait and traps.
Common spinach diseases are Damping-off and Downy Mildew. If you notice your seedlings falling over after emergence, that is a clear sign of damping off.
You can control the disease better through prevention by using certified seeds, adequate watering, and using compost from a hot compost pile.
You will know your spinach is infested with Downy Mildew when you spot yellow or light green marks on the leaves’ upper surface. If you also see some white fungus on the lower surface of the leaves, that is a clear sign of the disease.
Control Downy Mildew by uprooting infected plants. Ensure adequate spacing of your plants for enough air circulation. Water your soil directly to avoid water spilling on the leaves, a pre-condition for the disease.
8. Harvesting Spinach
Harvest your spinach plants 50 days after germination. Depending on the growing conditions, you could also begin harvesting earlier than the said period, probably after a month and a week.
One plant should have 5-6 leaves 3-4 inches long. During harvesting, start with the outermost leaves as you allow the inner leaves to continue growing.
Another option when harvesting is to cut the plant base with a scissor or knife, and the plant will resprout.
Spinach will begin forming small green or yellow flowers on its stems in warm climates. This makes the foliage thicken and change flavor, a process called bolting.
We advise harvesting your spinach before it bolts to enjoy its natural taste.
Spinach can thrive well in an indoor environment, provided you take enough care. If you lack the leeway to grow them outdoors, consider trying your luck indoors. All you need are the right seeds, potting mix, and a regular maintenance regimen.