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Saturday, 5 November 2016

News from GIY Ireland

Veg Of The Week - Perpetual Spinach

Popeye's favourite cut-and-come-again!

Easier to grow than annual spinach, perpetual spinach is actually from the same family as beetroot and is therefore often known as leaf beet or spinach beet.  It is less prone to bolting than regular spinach but is not quite as flavoursome.  What it lacks in flavour however, it more than makes up for in sheer doggedness – it will last right through even the toughest winter and will be churning out leaves when all else around it has succumbed.  It is therefore well worth having a short row of plants.  A perpetual spinach plant would also grow happily in a large pot.

Sowing

Sow in module trays, 2.5 cm deep.  From one seed several seedlings will appear – this little magic trick comes courtesy of the fact that similar to beetroot, the seed is in fact a cluster of seeds.  Get rid of all the seedlings bar the strongest one.  Sow under cover in March (3-5 plants) and again in June. 

Growing

About 4-6 weeks after sowing, transplant to final growing spot, leaving 30cm between plants.  There is no particular care required – simply keep it weed free and water during dry spells.  A few plants in a polytunnel will also be incredibly prolific and the leaves will be slightly more tender than those grown outside.  Remove any damaged leaves.

Harvesting

Harvest continuously throughout the season – in the summer you can take as much as half the plant in one go and it will bounce back.  Be more sparing in the winter.  To harvest, twist leaves away from the base of the plant – don’t pull at them.

Recommended Varieties

Perpetual Spinach

Problems

Without wishing to put a hex on it, almost nothing can go wrong… perpetual spinach is incredibly hardy.  You don’t even have to rotate it.

GIY Tips

1.         Small, tender spinach leaves make an excellent addition to salads

2.         Perpetual spinach is so resilient, it doesn’t even mind that no-one has bothered to come with a proper variety name – the most common variety is simply called “perpetual spinach”. 

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