Monday, March 3, 2014

Spinach springs eternal

As you may have noticed, the garden plan I published a month ago for Festival of Seeds didn't include any spinach. Brian and I have tried over the years to grow it, but nothing ever came up. Last year, my dad advised us to skip the spring planting, which never has enough time to germinate properly, and instead plant a fall crop around the beginning of September. Then, after harvesting it, we could leave the roots in the ground and get a second, smaller crop in the spring. So we tried that, but once again, no spinach appeared. We concluded that our garden just wasn't spinach-friendly and decided we'd have to keep buying ours from the store.

So, fast forward through the winter of 2013/14. (Oh, if only we could have done that in real life.) Bitterly cold weather in January, followed by snowfall after snowfall, covering the garden beds to a depth of a foot. Finally, at the end of February, it lets up for a week or so, and the snow starts to melt to the point where a bit of the underlying dirt and mulch is visible. And look what Brian found out there underneath the snow?

Yep, tiny little spinach plants. They wouldn't grow in spring, wouldn't grow in fall, but after the toughest winter we've been through in years, there they are. The only problem is, they're in a garden square that's been allocated to something else.

Fortunately, I sort of prepared for this possibility. The spot where the spinach is now coming up is the spot I assigned to the Brussels sprouts, a new crop we're trying for the first time this year. (Crossing our fingers that we'll be successful with those, since we've recently discovered lots of delicious ways to cook them—more on that later.) The sprouts don't go into the ground until July, by which time this spinach should be all picked and eaten.

However, this wasn't the only spot where spinach got planted; we put it all along the front left side of one garden bed. So more of the stuff may end up coming up once the snow melts. On one side, it will overlap with the spot assigned to a pepper plant, which doesn't go into the ground until June, so no problem there. But if it comes up on the other side, it'll cut into the space we've allocated for arugula. So we'll have to decide whether to pull out and eat the baby spinach before planting the arugula, or just skip the arugula and let the spinach get bigger. Either way, too much of a good thing is a nice problem to have.

One question remains, though: if we want to grow spinach again next spring, when should we plant it? In the summer, like we did last year? Or should we just wait until everything else has been picked?
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