Monday, June 28, 2010

Is your spinach going to seed?

If your spinach is going to seed, i.e. bolting, it is time to pull it. When spinach starts to bolt, new leaves have an arrowhead shape and tend to become more bitter than usual. If you want a leafy vegetable crop for the summer try one that can tolerate the heat. These include Malabar spinach (Basella alba), Swiss Chard and New Zealand spinach. You will need to keep the soil moist and shaded in order to get a good stand. If the soil cakes or dries out, the germinating seed and emerging seedlings will die.

Leaf miners can be a problem with these crops but you can prevent infestations of this insect by covering the crop with insect barrier, a spun-bonded polyester fabric. I like to cover the row with this product as soon as I get the seeds in the ground. Cover the edges with soil but leave the fabric loose enough so these greens can push it up as the leaves develop. The fabric also helps retain soil moisture and shades the soil reducing heat buildup resulting in healthier plants. Mulch around the plants also helps improve plant health and production.

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