Be Like Popeye: Strong to the Finish When You Eat Your Spinach

Spinach wins when it comes to taste, versatility and the happy glow of eating something that’s good for you.

Related To:
Seasonal Spinach Salad

Seasonal Spinach Salad

Spinach topped with pecans, cranberries and maple vinaigrette puts fresh salad back on the table this winter.

Oh spinach! So delicious and nutritious; full of vitamins (A, C, E and K), and key minerals (iron and calcium)! No wonder Popeye was so loyal. Spinach originally comes from Persia, though it owes much of its fame and a common name (Florentine) to one of its staunchest proponents, Catherine de Medici of Florence. Spinach is a distant relative of amaranth and a closer relation to chard and beets. You’ll find spinach leaves in smooth and crinkly, or savoy, varieties.

All varieties are delicious fresh or cooked. The texture of savoy is especially nice in a salad. It should be noted that fresh leaves are more prominent in oxalic acid, which in addition to creating that squeaky astringent feeling on your teeth, also limits the body’s absorption of calcium. Perhaps, this is why dairy is such a nice balance to spinach…think saag paneer, cream of spinach soup or the Mornay sauce essential to anything Florentine.—Joe and Judith

Varieties Grown

Gigante d’Inverno, Bloomsdale Long Standing, Space

Seed Source

What I’m Wearing

Ranging in all shades of the green color spectrum, leaves can be perfectly oval, like an egg, or delicate and heart-shaped.

Tasting Notes

Velvety and sap-filled, spinach packs a sweet, earthy, astringent punch in every bite.

How to Grow

We typically start young seeds in cells in the greenhouse, but spinach can also be sown directly. For transplanting, we space the plants 6-8” in the rows and 6-8” between rows. Be careful not to plant young plants too deep and bury the new leaves that grow from the heart of the plant.

  • If you sow seeds directly, make sure to keep them very damp until germination of seeds. You can cover with row-cover fabric to keep the seeds moist until first cotyledons emerge.
  • Our climate, in the Southeast, is not kind to spinach plants, which have a preference for cooler and temperate weather. To keep young plants from bolting, or growing a seed head, we typically treat spinach as a winter and early spring crop, but it can be grown year-round in other, cooler places.
  • Spinach makes a high demand on nitrogen nutrients, like most other vegetative crops where leaves are the part of the plant harvested. We typically fertilize with feather or alfalfa meal.
  • Once seedlings are established, try not to over-water, as spinach is sensitive to the damping-off fungus that can cause young plants to wilt and rot early.
  • Most years we have a problem with vegetable weevils, particularly the young, larval caterpillars. These buggers eat the young leaves of our spinach plants, essential to helping the plant photosynthesize. We have used diatomaceous earth, or the skeletal remains of diatoms, harmful to insects, but innocuous to mammals. Diatoms are microscopic and razor-sharp, cutting the tender bodies of the larval and adult stages of vegetable weevil.
  • We have a tendency to harvest the leaves when they are medium-sized or baby, avoiding the larger leaves that often tear significantly when picking, washing and bagging.

No vegetable has perhaps as mythic a reputation as spinach; that famously good-for-you, vitamin-packed leafy green powerhouse. Nutritious, yes. But also delicious too when folded into a savory Hot Spinach Artichoke Dip, a la Paula Deen, a favorite app of many a party hostess. And is there anything as lush planted next to a juicy steak as a delectable Creamed Spinach? We think not.

Our buddies at FN Dish recommend skipping that depressing brick of frozen spinach hiding in the back of your freezer and reveling in the season: add fresh spinach in place of frozen to your recipes this fall. If stems bother you, choose baby spinach, and kick those pesky sticks to the curb. We’re anxious to use our homegrown spinach from our winter garden in Giada De Laurentiis’s Pork Chops Stuffed with Sun-Dried Tomatoes and Spinach. Any way you slice it, spinach is a winner when it comes to taste, adaptability and that happy glow of eating something that’s good for you.

In this Garden to Table feature, farmer-bloggers Judith Winfrey and Joe Reynolds offer their tips for sowing, growing and harvesting. And then we kick it over to FN Dish for some delicious recipes using this seasonal produce.

Keep Reading

Next Up

How to Plant Bare-Root Vegetables

Discover the best way to plant asparagus, rhubarb and strawberries in your garden.

How to Sow and Plant Fruiting Vegetables

Large leaves, golden flowers and heavy yields make squashes, zucchini and cucumbers ideal plants for productive pots.

How to Freeze Spinach

Freeze fresh spinach leaves—homegrown or store-bought—to create your own dark leafy green to flavor hot dishes and smoothies.

Small-Space Vegetable Gardens

Make room on your fire escape or pot up some tomato plants—you can grow delicious fruits and veggies even if you don't have much space.

Erin and Ben's Guide to Eating Like a Local in Laurel

Understatement of the year: Home Town's dynamic duo has strong feelings about how to fill your belly in Mississippi.

Tips for a Raised-Bed Vegetable Garden

Raised-bed vegetable gardening takes very little space and allows vegetables to be grown closer together.


Fixer Upper

7am | 6c

Fixer Upper

8am | 7c

Fixer Upper

9am | 8c

Fixer Upper

10am | 9c

Fixer Upper

11am | 10c

Fixer Upper

12pm | 11c

Fixer Upper

1pm | 12c
On Tonight
On Tonight

Beachfront Bargain Hunt

8pm | 7c

Caribbean Life

9:30pm | 8:30c

Island Life

10pm | 9c

Island Life

10:30pm | 9:30c

Hawaii Life

11pm | 10c

Hawaii Life

11:30pm | 10:30c

Caribbean Life

12am | 11c

Caribbean Life

12:30am | 11:30c

Island Life

1am | 12c

Island Life

1:30am | 12:30c

Hawaii Life

2am | 1c

Hawaii Life

2:30am | 1:30c

Follow Us Everywhere

Join the party! Don't miss HGTV in your favorite social media feeds.