To grow baby spinach, sow seeds into the ground in cool weather. Cover with soil; water well, and thin the plants as they grow. Harvest small leaves for baby spinach, or let them grow larger for traditional spinach.
- Prepare the soil
Spinach seeds can be planted in the early spring or fall. In areas where the weather is cooler, spinach may be planted as early as late August. Dig down about a foot to loosen the soil. The soil should be well-drained, and the area needs full sun.
- Plant seeds
Sow the seeds directly into the ground at a depth of one-half inch. Cover with soil. Spinach seeds can be planted in rows 2 inches apart, or sprinkled over a wide bed. Water well, especially in warm weather. Seeds germinate in about a week if the temperature is cool enough. Spinach prefers temperatures under 70 degrees.
- Thin and fertilize
When plants have two true leaves, thin them to 4-6 inches apart. Spinach does not tolerate overcrowding. Fertilize with fish emulsion, compost tea or a fertilizer to bring the soil's pH back to neutral when the plants have three or four true leaves. Continue to water well, but take care not to let the soil get too soggy.
- Harvest leaves
As soon as the leaves reach the desired size, harvest them. Spinach reaches its full leaf size in approximately six to eight weeks, but baby spinach can be harvested as soon as the leaves are big enough to eat. Cut leaves regularly and often to prevent the plant from going to seed. By cutting the outside leaves instead of the whole plant, the harvest can be extended as long as the weather permits.