Get down and dirty in the garden
Patsy Bell Hobson is a freelance writer. Read Oh Grow Up! for garden treasures. Her travel adventures can be read around the world at Striped Pot Travel with the world's best writers. When not in the garden or on the road, find her in southern Missouri.She is counting the days until the next gardening season. Find more garden, travel and random rants on her Facebook page.
I am growing a vegetable I used to hate: spinach. If your introduction to spinach was from a can of that salty gray-green plant matter, you understand. Not even Popeye could change my mind.
In 2006, an Escherichia coli bacterium (E. coli) outbreak in spinach was followed by more food contamination incidents. In 2007 a company recalled bags of its spinach after finding salmonella during testing. And in 2010, spinach potentially contaminated with Listeria monocytogenes was recalled. Seed sales tell us that record numbers of people are purchasing vegetable seeds. More and more, we want to know where our food comes from. Food contamination is rarely a problem if the food comes from our own backyard. You can supplement a lot of family meals by growing spring greens, like spinach, beets, turnips and lettuce.
I'm growing spinach (Spinacia oleracea 'Bloomsdale Long-Standing') this spring. In fact, those first few leaves of these glossy greens never made it to the kitchen last year. I ate them in the garden. (They were that good.) A fan of heirlooms or not, this is a good spring greens choice that has been around for more than 100 years.
Grow spinach this year for fresh, uncontaminated salad greens.
Photo by faria!/Courtesy Flickr
For this cool-season crop, save a few seeds from your spring planting and sow again for a fall crop. Expect a heavy, continuous yield of thick-textured, glossy dark green leaves. If you grow lettuce, you can grow spinach; its soil and light requirements are similar. Greens are a cool-season crop that love full or partial sun. Put a few radishes in with the spinach to serve as row markers. Gardening Tip: Try a couple of spinach varieties to possibly extend the season and see which one grows best for you. It might not be the same choice every year.
'Bloomsdale Long Standing' spinach is slow-growing, slow to bolt and has better-than-average heat and drought resistance. It will usually grow a week or two longer than other spinach varieties. It grows more upright than most spinach, keeping the leaves cleaner or less gritty.
Try This: Let your kids or grandkids help you plant a container of salad greens. Spinach, served fresh in salads or cooked in quiches and souffles, is a delightfully different thing than canned spinach. It supplies vitamins A, C and the B-complex, calcium, and proteins. Try this easy Spinach Souffle Recipe from Burpee.
Use your home-grown fresh spinach in salads, quiches and souffles.
Photo by Nami-nami/Courtesy Flickr
If chives are up, use it in your spinach salad. I suggest that you use spikey chive leaves instead of green onions, or break apart blossoms and sprinkle the flower petals on the salad.
Seed Packet Giveaway!
Burpee has agreed to give a package of spinach 'Bloomsdale Long-Standing' to three Herb Companion blog readers.
HOW TO ENTER:
• Post a comment below: Tell me how you will prepare the spinach you grow.
End date: February 10, 2011 (12:00 AM, Central Time) UPDATE: Time's up!
And the winners are ...
Barbara Allen in Highland, Utah: "I would love to win the seeds so that I could grow them with my grandchlldren and then make individual pizzas with them. I like to introduce them to vegetables in fun ways. I don't want them to grow up as I did,not liking their "greens". Hope everyone has a great time growing their spinach."
Candi Baker in Antlers, Oklahoma: "I plant spinach and lettuce all around the house in the windows for my salads but my chickens love it! And when all my friends' chickens have stopped laying, mine are still producing eggs..the only difference is that I feed them "greens" every day.. "
Kristi in Winston-Salem, North Carolina: "We love spinach on our pizza and in smoothies with carrot juice! Thanks!"