Do you love munching on fresh spinach or enjoy making cream spinach? If so, you may want to learn how to grow your own at home. And, no, you don’t need a huge garden… with just an old tyre or a container you can grow your own spinach easily.

There are good reasons to eat spinach as it contains not only iron but also vitamins A and C, thiamin, potassium, folic acid and carotenoids lutein and zeaxanthin. These help to keep your eyes and heart healthy… and spinach tastes great too!

Things you need:

• An old tyre or plant container (if choosing a plant container make sure that the container is 15- 20cm deep.
• Topsoil – either take this from your garden/yard or you can buy it from a garden shop.
• Compost – this can be bought from a garden shop or you can make your own. See the blog post How to make your own compost here.
• A 2l soft drink bottle (you’ll make holes in this so you can sprinkle water onto your spinach).
• Spinach seedlings – these can be bought in a tray from a garden shop. A tray of seedlings costs about R60. You can also buy seeds from a shop (at Shoprite they sell for ±R12 for a small bag) – if choosing this option then you will need to sow the seeds in a small container or seed tray and transplant once there are 2-3 leaves on each plant.

Steps to planting your seedlings:

• Place your old tyre or container flat on the ground in position which is convenient and which gets some sun (but not too much).
• Add topsoil to your container or tyre. The topsoil can be found in your garden/yard but you can buy it too. Topsoil is important as it contains the nutrients needed for your spinach to grow.
• Add some of the compost to the mix so that the earth is rich.
• Create holes big enough to accommodate the seedling and then close them up carefully.
• Make sure that you give each spinach plant sufficient space to breathe and grow – allow about 10 to 12cm space between the seedlings.
• Add additional compost around the seedlings.
• Water using a watering can or the 2l plastic bottle with holes. You want to water the plant gently.
• The best times to water are in the morning and the evneing. In the morning the plant receives light from the sun which is important for photosynthesis and at night the plant gets the opportunity to breathe oxygen which it gets from air. It’s important to water your plants regularly so that they do not wilt.
• Spinach likes a soil rich in nitrogen and nutrients. To give your plant extra help you could add fertilizer or more compost to the mix.

If you are growing spinach from seeds it will take about six weeks for your spinach to be fully grown. Here is what should happen in those weeks:

Week 1: The seeds starts to germinate
Week 2: The leaves starts to shoot
Week 3: More leaves are growing but are thin
Week 4: The leaves grow taller
Week 5: The leaves are enlarged
Week 6: Your spinach is fully grown and ready to be harvested.

You should only harvest your spinach once the plant has at least 5-6 healthy leaves that are at least 5-8cm tall. Pick the outer leaves first and leave the new inner leaves in place. That way they will continue to grow.