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01. November 2019

My favorite leaves: How to grow baby spinach

As you might know by now, I really love growing leafy greens. Spinach is one of my favorites, especially baby spinach.

En tät matta av gröna små blad.

The plant produces the skinny leaves first. We eat the leaves that develop later though. I'm growing baby spinach in a large pot in my polytunnel here.

 

I recently got a question about leafy greens which I'm of course more than happy to write about. These tiny little leafy greens are of course especially popular and a staple in many households. After all, all you need to do is open up a bag and grab a handful whenever you want to. No wonder people like them so much.

Airon writes:

What exactly is baby spinach and can you grow it at home?

 

Tre olika typer av spenatblad ligger på en bräda.

Spinach leaves, harvested as baby spinach, regular leaves and leaves from my overwintered plants.

 

Good question! Put simply, baby spinach is actually just regular spinach leaves, albeit small ones. There are a few different varieties out there that are supposed to be optimal when you want baby leaves. But my experience is that most varieties actually work.

Spinach is a relatively low-growing plant with leaves attached to tender little stalks. The stalks can grow around 4 inches tall (1 decimeter) in spring and the leaves can grow to around 8 inches (2 decimeters). The spinach bolts in spring when it gets warmer, and it develops a long flower stalk in the middle of the plant. No more leaves will grow after this happens.

The leaves are small and tender before this happens though. And you can harvest them in any size that fits you best. From tiny to large. The smallest leaves are called baby spinach when we get them in the store.

 

Read more: Growing pea shoots indoors

 

Ett grunt odlingstråg med en tät matta av läckert gröna blad.

I decided to grow baby spinach in this trough, and I use them for my salads and sandwiches.

 

How to grow baby spinach

  • Scatter seeds in a little box, pot or trough and cover with soil.
  • Water the soil.
  • Put the spinach in a greenhouse, on the window sill or outdoors.
  • You might need a grow light in late fall or winter.
  • You can cut the leaves when they have grown to around 4 inches (1 decimeter).
  • The leaves will grow again, and you can harvest them once more.

 

More about spinach: My homemade spinach pesto 

 

Other small leaves

You can grow plenty of other leafy greens this way. I like mixing a lot of seeds when I sow, to basically get a ready salad in my pot. You might want to find varieties that take around the same time to grow. These vegetables go well together:

  • spinach, lettuce, arugula
  • chard, beet, kale
  • lettuce, lamb's lettuce and purple kale
En arrangerad bild med byttor av gröna och röda blad.

It's easy to grow baby spinach in old candy containers. I'm also growing lettuce, dill, cabbage leaves, and fava bean shoots.

 

It's so fun to get creative with these mixes. Why not make a batch of only red leafy greens? Packed with antioxidants and it looks really lovely on the plate too. Here are a few red leafy greens you might want to try:

  • Rubra, red orache
  • Bull's Blood, beet
  • Scarlet, purple kale
  • Red salad bowl, lettuce

All of these red varieties are part of my own seed collection in collaboration with Nelson Garden, called Sow all year round.

I often grow beets for their leaves. They taste great and the leaves look so nice on the plate.

 

So, get your seed packets and start sowing your own favorite leaves! You might as well grow baby spinach instead of getting it from the store after all.

You can grow these leaves basically wherever you live. For example in a pallet collar bed, in pots or troughs outside or on your balcony. Sow now and start harvesting in a few weeks. Good luck!
/Sara Bäckmo

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