Whether you’ve got spinach growing outside in a garden bed, in a container, or in a hydroponic setup, it’s important to know how to harvest spinach and when to harvest spinach so you can get the best growth from the plant as well as when it tastes the best!
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You’ve already done the hard part of growing your own spinach, now let’s discuss how to harvest the spinach to not only keep your plant healthy, but to continue producing more spinach leaves!
Related: Grow Beans In Containers, How To Grow Spaghetti Squash, When To Pick Tomatoes
When To Harvest Spinach
Spinach is one of those great plants that can grow almost all year long, meaning you can plant it at almost any time of the year. This means there’s not specific timeline scheduled like so many other plants you’d expect to have a specific time of year or season to harvest.
What this also means is, you can almost treat it like an herb, where you take the amount of leaves you want and then leave the rest to continue growing!
So when to harvest spinach? Harvest the leaves when they are big enough to eat. This can change depending on the variety of spinach you’ve got growing, so be sure to check the label that came with the plant or the seed packet to see the average size of the leaf, or at least the variety.
Some general rules of thumb about spinach growing: it will often take about 40 days for the plants to mature enough for you to pick the leaves, after about a 2 week period of them sprouting from seed. And the average spinach leaf size is about 6 inches!
One important timing thing to pay attention to is, like basil, it will go bitter when it goes to flower. If the plant is having rapid growth and it’s nearing summer, this is called bolting.
The spinach plant will be about to flower, and so all of the energy is going to the seeds rather than the leaves.
If you notice this rapid growth or the days are becoming increasingly long, it may be time to pull up the entire spinach plant and eat all of the leaves on it.
Or, you can allow a small part of your crop to flower so you can have seeds for the next season of growing spinach!
How To Harvest Spinach
So now the question is how to actually harvest the spinach you’ve been working on!
Pick the outer leaves of the plant when they’ve reached eating size. Either take scissors or just pinch off at the base of the leaf right next to the stem.
If you’re nearing the hotter days of summer/end of spring, you may want to pull the entire plant up, rather than just some leaves so it doesn’t get a bitter flavor when it goes to flower.
Why only pick these larger outer leaves?
This allows the inner leaves to grow to a larger size so you can eat them later on, giving you a crop that keeps producing leaves. Picking these outer leaves also keeps the plant from bolting for a little bit longer, because the larger, fully grown leaves have been taken off.
It will continue to grow new leaves and work on increasing the size of the remaining leaves!
If you want a sweeter flavor, you can pick the leaves when they are smaller, or some of the smaller inner leaves.
Depending on the season, it’ll take about 2-3 months for your plant to go from seed to an edible crop! Remove the outer leaves by pinching or cutting off at the stem to allow the inner leaves to grow to maturity. If the plant is bolting, or about to go to flower, either cut off the entire plant or pull it up from the roots.