Gardening Report: The basics of growing spinach in Interior Alaska

Published: Jul. 30, 2021 at 3:42 PM AKDT
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FAIRBANKS, Alaska (KTVF) - Growing spinach in Interior Alaska can be deceptively simple, with the main challenge being in the timing.

According to Heidi Rader, Associate Professor of Extension for the University of Alaska Fairbanks there are both pros and cons to growing spinach. “The great thing about growing spinach is that it grows really quickly. In about 30 days you can be eating baby spinach. The bad thing about spinach is that it bolts really quickly, which means that it kind of goes to seed and it’s not as palatable. So, when you grow lettuce or you eat spinach, usually you don’t want to eat it after it bolts.”

While it does grow quickly, Rader says the risk of spinach bolting is something gardeners should be aware of and prepare for. “So, the trick with spinach is finding a variety that doesn’t bolt as quickly, and also growing it in the spring. That’s one of the very first crops I grow and it’s one of the first things I eat every spring. With all this hot weather we’ve been having, that tends to make things like lettuce and swiss chard and spinach bolt pretty quickly. I also plant a lot of different plantings of spinach, so I’ll plant it one week then I’ll plant it the next week. If you plant too much at one time and then it bolts, you can’t eat it quickly enough. So the trick is to plant small amounts successfully. So maybe several weeks, plant it early and plant it late as well because it doesn’t like the heat.”

But because of the relative simplicity of growing spinach when compared to other vegetables, Rader says it can be well worth the effort. “Unlike things like brussels sprouts or broccoli, where you have to start the transplants inside and then wait for most of the summer, the best thing about spinach is how quickly it matures. I use just a pair of scissors to cut it and eat it, and it loves cool temperatures. So it’s a great early season and late season crop.”

More information on growing tips, including which varieties of vegetables grow best in Interior Alaska, can be found at the UAF Cooperative Extension Service website.

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