When Do You Harvest Spinach?

When do you harvest spinach now that you have tended to your plants and allowed them to grow into healthy leaves?

Spinach is a cool weather plant that is related to swiss chard. It is best grown during the cool season.  It is rare to find it growing during the heat of the summer.  Spinach is a popular crop to plant in the early spring or late summer since it withstands cold and tolerates full sun to partial shade.

What is so good about spinach plants is that you can harvest them as microgreen baby leaves or mature leaves. All of these are tasty when eaten raw or cooked. Each growth stage for the spinach has its benefit to the gardeners.

To enjoy spinach’s different flavors and textures, you can easily plant spinach in intervals. Use the outer leaves like baby spinach or mature spinach. To learn when to harvest spinach, here is a detailed guide.

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When Do You Harvest Spinach?

You can harvest spinach throughout the growing season, from early spring to fall harvest. This cool-season crop is the best grown in the spring and again in the early fall when the soil temperature is between 45 and 60 degrees Fahrenheit.

You can harvest spinach leaves as a baby or mature leaves. Baby leaves from young plants are excellent if you want a more tender texture and sweeter flavor. The mature leaves are naturally chewy with a similar taste to swiss chard. If you leave your spinach to go to seeding, you will not consume the leaves as they will have a bitter taste and a tough texture.

When is spinach ready to harvest?  The best size to harvest baby spinach is when the plant is at least 6 inches tall, and the leaves are at least 2 to 3 inches long. Harvest mature leaves when they are about 3 to 6 inches long. A few leaves might even be larger, but they will be good to eat as long as the plant has not set seed.

Your spinach plants can easily bolt once the outside temperature reaches 25 degrees Fahrenheit. You will notice a stem growing up in the middle of the foliage as the plant prepares to set seeds. This is the time to harvest the entire plant because the formation of spinach seeds takes away the energy required for healthy leaf production. If you do not harvest, the entire older leaves will become bitter.

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How To Harvest Spinach

Spinach harvesting is an easy process.  However, there are different methods to harvest depending on the maturity of a plant. You can harvest your spinach by cutting the leaf from the spinach plant. This way, you are harvesting only what you need at the time of use.

This harvesting method will encourage new growth from the entire plant. Spinach is a fast-growing plant that tolerates multiple harvests.

When harvesting the leaves, whether baby or mature, take only the outer larger leaves and no more than 1/4 of the whole plant. Harvesting only a small amount will ensure the spinach continues to grow. Use a sharp kitchen knife or utility scissors and leave at least 1/2 inch of stem on the plant to keep the leaf node intact and encourage thicker growth. If your stems are tender, you can easily pinch your leaves from the plant when harvesting.

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Another harvesting method is called clear-cutting by the bunch. This is excellent when you harvest lots of leaves at once to dry or freeze them for later use. To harvest using this method, use a sharp knife and gather up all the spinach leaves of one plant into a bunch.  Cut the stems at least 1/2 inch above the crown. The crown is just above the soil surface where all the stems meet. Within 10 to 14 days, you can get a second harvest following this method.

The last method to harvest the spinach plants is removing the entire root system. This is an excellent method if you’re ready to remove the whole crop at the end of the season or you don’t want the spinach to regrow. Use a sharp knife and cut below the crown so that the whole plant comes up from the soil. The remaining roots will decompose, adding nutrients to your soil.

Storing Fresh Spinach

After harvesting your fresh spinach leaves, you now need to store them in the best way possible.  The two different ways to keep your spinach are dry cold storage and freezer storage.  For these two methods, you will need to remove any slimy, wilted, or off-colored leaves from the batch before you store them. These leaves will be the potential cause of the rest going bad.

Before storing your spinach, clean them by rinsing them with cold water and then use a salad spinner to get rid of the excess water. Place the leaves on a paper towel and pat them dry.

For dry cold storage, wrap your spinach in a plastic bag. Remove any excess air before placing it in the refrigerator. This is the most popular storage method because it is easy and keeps your spinach fresh for at least 10 days.

Storing Fresh Spinach

When storing your spinach in the fridge, the last thing you want is to leave the leaves wet. Wet spinach quickly turns slimy, thus rotting.

When storing your spinach, you could also wait to wash them when you’re ready to use them to eliminate the potential for moisture damage. Alternatively, you can put them in a plastic container to increase the storage life from 12 to 14 days.

You can do a quick rinse to remove all the dirt and insects for freezer storage. You will not need to dry them because they will need to be blanched in boiling water or steam for 2 minutes. After blanching, place them in ice water for another 2 minutes to stop the cooking process. Once they have cooled, use a salad spinner to remove excess water and dry them with a towel. The frozen spinach will last in the freezer for up to one year.

How do you know when spinach is ready to harvest?

There's a lot of confusion about this. But the answer isn't very complicated, and once you know how to tell when spinach is ready, you'll have a much easier time getting your leaves and eating them! I'm going to show you a few ways to tell when spinach is ready, but I'd like to make one thing clear up front: there's no right or wrong way to harvest spinach. You can either wait until it's completely dry and wilted, or you can pick it just before it starts to get too wet. You can use the same technique to harvest arugula, kale, collards, chard, and other greens as well. The basic technique is pretty simple: when you think your spinach has reached its peak, pull the whole plant up by the stems, and shake off the soil from the leaves. You should see that the leaves are wilted, and that there are some brown spots on the leaves. It's okay if there's still a bit of moisture on the leaves—they'll dry out a little as they sit, and then you can water them again later. You should harvest when the leaves are full of water and have a nice fresh taste. If the plants start to wilt after harvesting, then you've waited too long.

How many times can you harvest a spinach plant?

From my experience, I would say the limit is two. First time you harvest, you'll want to cut it back severely. Then second time you harvest, you want to be cutting off more of the top and less of the bottom. By that time, you'll have a large amount of seed heads on your plant. Once the seed heads start turning brown, the plant is done.

How do you harvest spinach without killing the plant?

You don't have to kill it. If you wait until it's over a foot tall, you can just pluck it off the vine. You can also put it in a bucket of water with a small bit of salt. It will grow roots if the leaves are removed. Then you can transplant it into a pot and keep it alive. But, you may want to consider how much you want to eat.

What does bolting spinach look like?

It’s easy to tell when a plant is bolting. The first sign of this is the emergence of the first flower buds or seed heads on the plant. The next step is that the plant begins to grow and become bushy, but it still stays relatively small in size.

Is spinach an annual or perennial?

Spinach is a perennial vegetable. Spinach belongs to the Brassica family of vegetables, and is considered to be a member of the mustard family.

Conclusion

The information on when to harvest spinach, how to harvest, and how to store your spinach leaves is clearly explained in this article. We hope everyone gets to grow their spinach and enjoy sharing it with their loved ones from when they are baby spinach to the mature days.