Spinach is renowned for high health benefits. It is used in salads and cooked too. It grows 25 cm high featuring arrow-shaped leaves.
To grow well Spinach requires rich, fertile, well-drained soil that is rich in organic matter so that it does not dry in hot conditions. Traditionally it is a winter vegetable but can be grown during summers. There are a few varieties that grow best in warm and mild climates. Sow seeds about 1 cm (½ in) deep and 30 cm (1 ft) apart. As the seed germinate, thin them to 15 cm (6 in) apart. You can use these thinnings as baby spinach.
Like various other leafy vegetables, Snails and Slugs pose a threat to Spinach.
Pick up Baby Spinach when it is young and tender. The plants grow well in 8 to 10 weeks. Avoid pulling the plant and use a knife instead.
Buying and Storing Spinach:
Spinach leaves are very delicate, so while buying ensure that the leaves are not wilted or shriveled. Keep them in a plastic bag in a crisper section of the refrigerator for a day or two.
Health Benefits of Spinach:
Spinach is not rich in Iron. In fact, it is rich in vitamins A, K, and health-promoting flavonoids and hence is known as a superfood. In animal studies, it has discouraged cancer growth and cooled inflammation. Spinach is also said to contain lutein and zeaxanthin which helps protect the eyes from macular degeneration.
Other types of Spinach:
Amaranth: This leafy vegetable features in the cuisine of Greece, Southeast Asia, Africa, and the Caribbean. It has a sweet, tangy flavor. It is used in salads and also cooked as a vegetable.
Ceylon Spinach: This climbing variety of Spinach is grown throughout Asia and is a perfect vegetable for limited spaces.
Egyptian Spinach: This fast growing vegetable is used both as a herb and a vegetable. Apart from this, it is harvested to produce the jute fiber used to make burlap and rope.
Surinam Spinach: This variety of Spinach features bright green leaves and pink flowers. It has a crunchy, tangy flavor and the plant self-seeds quickly.
Reference – The Ultimate Book of Vegetables by Reader’s Digest