VEGETABLE FARMING (spinach): SHORT DESCRIPTION.
Spinach is also known as ‘Palak’. It is one of the leafy vegetables which can easily be grow in our home garden. Spinach leaves are natural source of vitamins, anti-oxidants, so we can include them in our diet plan, which is good for the health of our eyes, increase metabolism and prevents many lifestyle deceases.
We can have raw or cooked spinach. Indian Spinach or Palak is commonly used in soups, salads, or we can mix it with other vegetables for preparing side dishes or stir fries.
Mineral-rich and a vitamin C powerhouse, spinach is one of the first short-season, cold-tolerant salad greens to show in home vegetable plots. It’s a gardener’s mainstay for spring and fall since warm temperatures and longer days will quickly trigger spinach to go to seed
Plus growing your own will give you the satisfaction of knowing that it’s free of pesticides and food-borne diseases (think e-coli), unlike he pre-wrapped, factory-foods found in the produce aisle of the supermarket.
How to Plant:
Sow spinach seeds directly into the ground, 1/2 inch deep in early spring or late fall. Thin seedlings to 6 inches apart when they are 4 to 5 inches tall. Plants likes water, so keep the soil evenly moist, but not wet.
Constant moisture promotes rapid growth and helps prevents bolting. Mulching with compost will help deter weeds and prevent moisture loss.
Fertilize with fish emulsion or other organic fertilizer when plants have four true leaves.
Harvesting and Storage:
Harvest spinach when leaves are young or allow to mature and harvest outer leaves. Plants will reach maturity 40 to 60 days after direct seeding. Harvest young, tender leaves before it gets too hot. Summer heat will cause bitter leaves and bolting. Cover with shade cloth and
water frequently if temperatures exceed 80˚F.
Tip: An extremely hardy plant, spinach can be harvested as late as December in many areas and will overwinter in warmer locations. If you use a cold frame, you can harvest it almost all year long.
Insect & Disease Problems:
Floating row cover can be used when temperatures are cool to protect spinach from many caterpillar and beetle species. Remove covers as soon as temperatures begin to warm. Keep an eye out for flea beetles early in the gardening season. They are small (1/10 inch long), shiny, dark brown or black beetles that damage plants by chewing numerous small holes in the leaves. Occasional aphids may attack, however this will typically occur later in the season when the plant is less appealing.
Downy mildew and mosaic virus are two common foliar diseases. Select resistant varieties, provide plenty of air circulation, and water in the morning to help prevent fungal problems.
Lower Blood Pressure:
Spinach is rich in several minerals that your body needs, including potassium. Consuming foods that are high in potassium helps lower your blood pressure.
Spinach is an excellent source of lutein, an antioxidant known to protect against age-related eye diseases such as macular degeneration and cataracts. Studies have found that people who take lutein supplements are at a lower risk for macular degeneration, which is the leading cause of vision impairment and blindness.
Cataracts are an eye condition caused by oxidation of the lens of the eye. Studies have shown that lutein appears to prevent ultraviolet damage to your lenses. One study found that women who had a higher dietary intake of lutein were 23% less likely to develop cataracts than those who had a low-lutein diet.
Vitamin K is essential to bone health and growth, and spinach is packed with it. Eating just one cup of spinach fulfils the recommended daily amount of Vitamin K your body needs.
Spinach is an excellent source of iron, which helps your body make haemoglobin. Haemoglobin is needed to transport oxygen from your lungs to the rest of your body. This is why one of the primary symptoms of iron deficiency is heavy fatigue.