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Spinach is one of the most cultivated leafy vegetables in the world; it is an annual herbaceous plant, or rarely biennial, belonging to the family of the amaranthacee. It produces small clumps of leaves arranged in a basal rosette, dark green, triangular in shape, with fleshy stem and smooth, or blistered, page, depending on the species; when the climate becomes dry or very long the plant tends to develop an erect stem, on which some small yellow or green flowers develop. In conjunction with flowering and the consequent production of flowers, the foliage thickens and changes flavor, so it is convenient to harvest the plant before the flowering begins, and cultivate it in order to remove this eventuality.
Spinach is a very popular and requested leafy vegetable throughout the year, even if they are considered a mainly autumnal and winter food.
They are characterized by large, thick, but very soft, dark green leaves that can be eaten both cooked and raw. They are very appreciated both for their unmistakable taste and for the great content in mineral salts, vitamin C, A and folic acid.
As everyone knows, they have a good iron content, which is less available to our body than is found in foods of animal origin. However, lemon juice, rich in both vitamin C and citric acid, can help our digestive system absorb it better.
THE SPINACH IN BRIEF
|Type of plant||herbaceous, annual or biennial|
|Height||from 15 to 30 cm|
|Rusticitа||up to -6 ° / -10 ° c|
|use||vegetable garden, pots|
|Soil||rich, clayey, calcareous, fresh|
|Distance between rows||20-25 cm|
|Distance on the rows||10 cm|
How spinach is grown in the garden
Spinach has been cultivated in Europe for centuries, where it was introduced by the Arabs, given that in Asia these plants were spontaneous; nowadays therefore dozens of cultivars are available, with large, small, thin, thick, smooth, blistered leaves. The choice of cultivar also depends on the period in which spinach is desired to be grown, as some cultivars are particularly suitable for spring cultivation, others for winter cultivation; these plants have a short vegetative cycle, lasts about 40-60 days from the day of sowing to the day of harvest.
They settle in a well-worked plot, enriched with manure, and with a soft and light, well-drained soil; they prefer semi-shaded positions, since drought and strong insolation tend to favor flowering, with consequent loss of the crop.
Spinach is sown directly at home, by spreading it or in rows, remembering to thin out the sprouted seedlings, to avoid producing excessively clumped branches.
Sowing takes place in spring (March-April) or in late summer (late August-September), choosing in each season the most suitable varieties among those available; often the sowing takes place to climb, so as to extend the harvesting period until the summer.
Many varieties of spinach they do not fear the cold excessively, so it is convenient to use them as autumn and winter vegetables in the garden, as a cultivation next to summer vegetables, such as tomatoes or aubergines.
As soon as they are sown, they are abundantly watered, and the soil is kept moist until harvesting; the climate is generally favorable to spinach cultivation, in case of prolonged drought it is good to water regularly, without excessively soaking the soil.
The harvest takes place after 40-60 days, when the whole head has developed fleshy and large leaves, or the larger leaves are collected as needed, or it is collected by cutting the young leaves, to be eaten raw. The head is collected by cutting it at the collar.
In the regions of northern Italy it may happen to have to cover the plots cultivated with spinach in the cold months, to prevent them from freezing, but in general the rustic varieties can withstand some brief frosts.
The spinach It is a leafy vegetable, about 30 cm high with leaves 20 to 40 cm long, also depending on the variety and the period of cultivation. These are lanceolate, shiny and thick, but at the same time extremely tender. They grow as a rosette, then the larger ones on the outside and smaller and smaller towards the center. The root is taproot, red in color.
It is a dioecious plant: there are specimens that carry only female flowers and others that bear only male ones. The female flowers are in small groups, the male ones, on the contrary, are arranged in spikes. Both, however, are greenish-yellow.
Exposure and climate for spinach
Spinach can be grown practically at any time of the year, clearly modifying the exposure and partly the cultivation treatments
He particularly appreciates a shaded and cool situation during the summer, while, from autumn to the middle of spring it is good to reserve a sunnier and warmer area for him. The cold, especially for the already well-established seedlings, is absolutely not a problem, given that, depending on the varieties, it can withstand and grow even with temperatures from -6 ° to -10 ° C.
However, in the North and in the Apennine areas, cultivation in greenhouses is recommended during the most rigid months.
Origin and history of spinach
Spinach (Spinacia oleracea) is a herbaceous plant belonging to the Chenopodiaceae family. It is most probably native to the Middle East, particularly from Syria or south-western Asia.
It was brought to Europe by the Arabs, probably during the dominion of the Iberian peninsula, around 1000 AD From the thirteenth century it is also attested in France. In Italy, however, it was almost certainly known even earlier, thanks to Arab rule in our southern regions.
Its popularity over the centuries has only grown. It became even better known and recommended when it became the favorite food of Popeye. However, it must be pointed out that the belief that spinach is particularly rich in iron is partly to be debunked: it spread, in fact, following a transcription error in the nutritional tables. In reality there are other plants capable of offering much more, in particular most dry vegetables.
To always have seedlings ready for harvesting it is strongly advisable to devote yourself to scaling, generally every 15-20 days.
For spring and summer harvesting, from February to mid-May, for winter harvest, from mid-August to November.
The furrows must be about 20 cm apart and at most 2 deep. We distribute the seeds and cover them with a light layer of soil, helping ourselves with the back of the rake. We nebulize abundantly avoiding that the water moves earth and seeds. For 10 square meters of cultivation serve from 16 to 30 g of seeds.
Germination takes place under normal conditions in about ten days. After reaching the fourth leaf, the seedlings must be thinned leaving one every 10 cm.
During the winter, especially in the North, it is advisable at least for the first stages of cultivation, to cover the area with a plastic tunnel so that the small spinaches are protected from frost.
THE SPINACH CALENDAR
from February to May - from August to November
|collection||from October to June|
|weeks before harvest in spring-summer||8-10|
|weeks before harvest in autumn-winter||12|