Thursday, July 26, 2012

How to grow Spinach

As a child I grew up watching the Popeye cartoon.  For those of a later generation, Popeye was a cartoon character who owed his super human strength to a steady diet of spinach.  I don't think that at the time people realized just how true this message was.  Spinach is one of the healthiest vegetables you can eat and though it might not give you super human strength, it will certainly go a long way to making you strong.

It's too bad they don't play these cartoons on television any longer.  All the characters were terrific and very imaginative, and I think they would be a much better influence on today's children that all those horrible ads for sugary cereals.

Health benefits of spinach

Spinach has a very long list of health benefits and it's almost impossible to list all of them.  Here are just a few.
  • Full of fibre which aids in digestion, prevents constipation, maintains low blood sugar, and curbs overeating.
  • Contains flavonoids, a phytonutrient with anti-cancer properties. Has been shown to slow down cell division in human stomach and skin cancer cells.  Also has shown to give significant protection against the occurrence of aggressive prostate cancer.
  • Contains large amounts of Neoxanthin and violaxanthin - two anti-inflammatory epoxyxanthophylls that play an important role in regulating inflammation.
  • Contains vitamin C and E, beta-carotene, manganese, zinc and selenium - all powerful antioxidants that combat the onset of osteoporosis, atherosclerosis and high blood pressure.
  • By inhibiting the angiotensin I-converting enzyme, peptides within spinach have been shown to effectively lower blood pressure.
  • The abundance of vitamin K in spinach helps maintain a healthy nervous system in the body.
  • Antioxidants lutein and zeaxanthin are especially plentiful in spinach.  These protect the eye from cataracts and age-related macular degeneration.
  • Very high in vitamin A which protects the mucous membranes, respiratory system and urinary and intestinal tracts from infection.  Also a key component of white blood cells that fight infection.
  • Eating spinach helps prevent atherosclerosis, cardiovascular disease and stroke.
  • The high amount of vitamin A also promotes healthy skin and fights psoriasis, acne and even prevents wrinkles.
  • The huge amount of vitamin K in spinach prevents excess activation of osteoclasts (the cells that break down bones), as well as promotes the synthesis of osteocalcin, the protein that is essential for maintaining the strength and density of our bones.

How to grow spinach

Spacing :  In a Square Foot Garden you can plant 3 rows of 3 in a 12 inch bed.

Spinach is an easy vegetable to grow from seed and you can plant it every few weeks to get a continuous crop.  If you're lucky with the weather that is. Even though it doesn't bolt as quickly as lettuce, it still doesn't like very hot weather so it's best to grow spinach in the spring and again in the fall.  Even though it doesn't do well in the summer, on the plus side it's very frost hardy and will grow long into the fall and even early winter.

Here is a video showing how to plant spinach.

This video shows how to grow spinach.

And this video gives tips on how to grow spinach in heat.

Spinach recipes

There are many ways to use spinach, and here are just a few.

Spinach goes very well with eggs of all kinds - scrambled, poached, and in omelettes like this spinach and goat's cheese omelette

The most basic way to use spinach is in a salad.  It's especially good with bacon and red onions.

I like adding spinach to pizza for great colour as well as great flavour.

Spinach is also great to add to stir-frys, like this spinach and tomato one.

Tomorrow I'm going to give you another great recipe using spinach.  Meanwhile here is today's inspirational garden - including spinach - from  .

"Almost any garden, if you see it at just the right moment, can be confused with paradise."
                                                                                                                            - Henry Mitchell

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