Trouble growing Spinach

exmarFebruary 16, 2013


OK, I've been gardening for over 50 years and feel pretty confident about growing whatever I want. Last couple of years though, having trouble growing spinach? The issue seems to be germination, very poor. Usually buy in bulk at a local place and thought maybe their quality was poor, though been using them a long time. Last year tried "designer" brand seeds, no difference.

I plant early and then late for a fall crop. Don't think it's a soil issue as the garden has been in use for years and has produced excellent spinach yields. All crops are rotated.

I use a garden seeder so depth, etc. is exactly what it should be. I've attached a link to the one I use. BTW, they're pricey, but they do a really neat and fast job.

OK, we all know that the weather patterns are changing, wondering if that's the issue as I think I've eliminated all the other possibilities.

What I think I'm going to try this year is start the seeds in peat pellets then transplant. That's the easy part, though putting something in pellets to transplant that I've always just scattered in a row seems wrong.

My question is, where do I put the pellets for germination? Inside? Doesn't seem right, spinach is a very cold hardy plant, thinking of a flat tray outside in a wind protected spot with good exposure.

Thoughts or opinions welcome,

Thanks for your time,


Here is a link that might be useful: garden seeder

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I've had trouble also getting spinach to germinate when direct sowing. Either that or maybe it gets eaten by slugs or something else right after germinating. I resorted to indoor sowing and then transplanting as soon as the plants had decent size true leaves. Sort of a pain to do it that way but I only need about 10 spinach plants at a time.

    Bookmark   February 16, 2013 at 10:54AM
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wertach zone 7-B SC

EV, I have the same seeder. It plants small seeds too deep.

I have had good luck by making a smooth bed and just sprinkle the seeds on top. Then I take an old bed sheet and cover it. Keep the sheet moist.

Keep a watch and when they have germinated uncover them. You can cover very lightly with some good soil or just let them grow.

I use this method with all of my greens and carrots.

    Bookmark   February 16, 2013 at 11:04AM
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Thanks for the responses.

My concern with starting the spinach INSIDE is that it will get used to 70 degrees but I intend to set it out where it's very chilly if not cold and that could put a whole new meaning to transplant shock.

Wertach, I've noticed the same thing. I've learned to adjust the depth on the seeder. e.g. with spinach, it's supposed to go in 1/4" I set the seeder at about half that and it has "historically" worked very well. Not the last couple of years though.

Thanks again,


    Bookmark   February 16, 2013 at 11:22AM
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Spinach was one of the few things that I had good luck with winter-sowing (see the winter sowing forum FAQs). I have had a poor germination rate with normal indoor sowing. I think they really liked to be frozen for a bit, it is probably still cold enough in Ohio to try some.

    Bookmark   February 16, 2013 at 11:28AM
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Concur that you ought to try winter sowing. I am always saving clear plastic containers, I have to go through the garage and at least pile them in one corner. Last year was terrible for spinach direct, due to the drought, anyway.

    Bookmark   February 16, 2013 at 12:17PM
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I agree with wintersowing spinach seeds. Works like a charm for me.

Here is a link that might be useful: Winter Sowing Forum

    Bookmark   February 16, 2013 at 2:06PM
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AiliDeSpain(6a - Utah)

I started spinach indoors last summer for fall harvest. The plants that I set out did ok but our fall was short so no plants really reached maturity. Much to my surprise the spinach is still alive under all the snow that has been slowly melting the last few days with temps in the 40's. They really are a cold season veggie.

    Bookmark   February 17, 2013 at 12:04AM
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Because winter sowing spinach has been successful for me, I tried something new this year. I sowed some spinach in small cups, covered them and put them out in the garage for 3 weeks. I'm in WI so they were frozen good and solid. When I brought them inside, I just put the tray on the floor which is concrete slab and probably about 40 degrees (a garage converted to a work room). 10 days later the spinach is starting to germinate. It just started, so I dont have percentage #'s for you, but I am betting that it will be better than the ones I tried to start on the light shelves with the rest of my seedlings. I am planning on just harvesting it as baby spinach right from the pots, otherwise it would be way to early for me to start it.

    Bookmark   February 19, 2013 at 8:58PM
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Spinach is a very temperature sensitive vegetable. The weather needs to be cool, not cold and definitely not hot. It won't germinate at 80 degrees and above and won't grow if it reaches that temp and above. If you're going to use it for cooking (i.e., not just salads) the only practical way to get enough is to sow it directly in the garden. I have developed a method of sowing that achieves excellent germination. Make your bed or row, and then tamp it down lightly. Take a straight edge of something and press it into the soil of the bed. I use the edge of an 8 foot long 1 X 4 that I have beveled into a "V" shape so as to create a furrow about 1/2 inch deep. Sow your seed, not crowding it too much (difficult). Then take builder's sand or "play sand" like that sold at Lowes or Home Depot and cover the seed. The sand prevents the formation of a crust in the soil over the seeds. Wet the bed gently so as not to wash soil over the sand and continually keep it moist while awaiting germination. This will work if the temp is right and you will enjoy a bounty of spinach. Spinach will also overwinter if the weather cooperates, but here I have difficulty getting germination because of the heat in the fall. Good luck ! ! ! !

    Bookmark   April 8, 2013 at 12:53PM
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Spinach seeds lose potency after the first year. Always get new seed.

    Bookmark   April 9, 2013 at 4:03AM
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Spinach works best for me if planted on still frozen soil and then dusted with another layer of light soil.
When I tried to start a second batch after the soil had defrosted the results were not as good.

    Bookmark   April 9, 2013 at 7:48AM
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