Spinacia oleracea Spinach plays an important part in the economy of the dinner table. There are unfortunate beings who cannot eat it, for they describe it as bitter, sooty, and nauseous. Probably an equal number of persons entertain a very high opinion as to

its value. The rest of mankind proclaim it a wholesome, savoury, and acceptable vegetable. Spinach will grow anywhere and anyhow; but some little management is needed to keep up a constant supply of large, dark green leaves, that when properly cooked will be rich in flavour as the result of good cultivation. To produce first-class Spinach a well-tilled rich loam is needed, but a capital sample may be grown on clay that has been some time in cultivation. Summer Spinach.--The early sowings of Round or Summer Spinach should be in a sheltered situation, but not directly shaded. Sow in drills twelve to fifteen inches apart, and one inch deep, beginning in January, although the first sowing may fail, and continue to sow about every fortnight until the middle of May. The earliest sowing should be on dry ground, but the later sowings will do well on damp soil with a little shade from the midday sun. It is important to thin the crop early, as it should not be in the least drawn. This is the only essential point in securing a fine growth, for if the plant cannot spread from the beginning it will never become luxuriant, and will soon run up to seed. Thin at first to six inches, and if large enough for use, send the thinnings into the house. Before the leaves overlap thin finally to twelve inches. Every plant will cover the space, and it will suffice to take the largest leaves, two or three only from each plant, and thus a basket may be filled in a few minutes with really fine Spinach. As the heat of the summer increases, the crop will be inclined to bolt. The starved plant will bolt first; the plant in rich moist soil, with plenty of room to spread, will be more leisurely about it, and will give time for the production of a succession crop to take its place. The sowings from May to July should be small and numerous, and on rich moist land, to be aided, if needful, with water. In many gardens there is a sufficient variety of vegetables after the middle of June to render it unnecessary to keep up the supplies of Spinach, and it is best to dispense with it, if possible, during July and August. Winter Spinach.--The sowing of Winter Spinach should commence in July, and be continued until the end of September, subject to the capabilities of the place. In gardens near towns, where the land is at all heavy, it is generally useless to sow after August, as the autumnal fogs are likely to destroy a plant that is only just out of the seed-leaf. But in favoured localities, with a warm soil and a soft air, seed may be sown up to the very end of the year with but little risk of loss. The winter crops are sometimes sown broadcast, but drilling is to be preferred, and the rows may be twelve to fifteen inches apart. Thin at first to three inches, and afterwards to six inches, and leave them at this distance, for Winter Spinach may be a little crowded with advantage, because the weather and the black bot will now and then remove a plant. Should ground vermin claim attention, the best way to proceed will be to scratch shallow furrows very near the plants, taking care not to injure them. This may be done with the hoe, but if time can be spared it will be better to do it with a short pointed stick, having at hand, as the work progresses, a vessel into which to throw the grubs as they come to light when the earth is disturbed. Where small birds are in sufficient numbers, they will observe the disturbance of the earth, and diligently search for the grubs at hours when the cultivator is no longer on the search himself. The July sowings will be useful in the autumn and throughout the winter, as the weather may determine; the later sowings will be useful in spring. Plants may be drawn where they can be spared to make room for the remainder, but leaves only should be taken when the plant is large enough to supply them. When symptoms of bolting become visible in the spring, cut the plants over at the collar, and at once prepare the ground for another crop. New Zealand Spinach (Tetragonia expansa).--Gardeners are only too well acquainted with the difficulty of maintaining an unbroken supply of true Spinach during the burning summer months. But the weather which makes it almost impossible to produce a satisfactory crop of Spinacia oleracea brings New Zealand Spinach to perfection. The latter is prized by some persons because it lacks the peculiar bitterness of the former. The plant is rather tender, and therefore to obtain an early supply the seed must be raised in heat. It may be sown in pots or pans at the end of March or beginning of April. Transfer the seedlings to small pots immediately they are large enough, and gradually harden in preparation for removal to the open ground towards the end of May. They should be put into light soil in a sunny position, and be allowed three or four feet apart each way. It is not unusual to grow them on a heap of discarded potting soil, where they can ramble without restraint. The growth is rapid, and there must be no stint of water in dry weather. In five or six weeks the first lot of tender shoots will be ready for pinching off. Those who do not care to incur trouble under glass may sow in the open in the early part of May, and thin the plants to the distance named. Perpetual Spinach, or Spinach Beet (Beta Cicla).--A valuable plant for producing a regular supply of leaves which make an excellent Spinach at a period of the year when the ordinary Summer Spinach is past its prime. Although it is a true Beet, the roots are worthless, and there should be liberal treatment to insure an abundant growth of leaves. Seed may be sown from March to the end of July or beginning of August, in rows one foot apart. Thin the plants to a distance of six or eight inches in the rows. When the leaves are ready for gathering, they must be removed, whether wanted or not, to promote continuous growth. Orache is frequently used as a substitute for Spinach where the ordinary variety fails. Seed should be sown during the spring months, and as the plant frequently attains a height of five feet allow a distance of at least three feet in each direction for development. Red Orache is useful for growing in ornamental borders, but it is not so suitable for culinary purposes as the white variety. The leaves only are eaten.

Previous: SHALLOT

Add to Add to Reddit Add to Digg Add to Add to Google Add to Twitter Add to Stumble Upon

Add to Informational Site Network