Posted by: ceara08 | February 22, 2008

Spinach – Plant Profile

Today I’d like to talk about Spinach.

Popeye loved spinach and claimed it made him strong. Probably so, but what he didn’t tell you was spinach is high in oxalic acid. Oxalic acid actually reduces the body’s ability to absorb the iron and calcium that spinach contains. So spinach doesn’t really make you strong, but it is still loaded with other nutrients. Nutrition drops when spinach is boiled to death, so it’s best to either eat it raw, or quickly wilt, saute, or use as an ingredient in pasta dishes like cannelloni or lasagna. Yum!

spinachIt is a rich source of Vitamin A, Vitamin C, vitamin E, Vitamin K, Magnesium, Folic acid, and several vital antioxidants. To benefit from the folate in spinach, it is better to steam it than to boil it. Boiling spinach for four minutes can halve the level of folate.

When cooked, the volume of spinach is decreased by three quarters.

(Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Spinach)

Spinach also received poor press in the past. American humorist George Ade said, “One man’s poison ivy is another man’s spinach.”

Despite the poor press, spinach was an early traveler to New England, arriving at the start of the 17th century. It didn’t attract much attention among horticulturists, although Peter Henderson who described himself as “Gardener, Author, Merchant,” wrote in 1884 that spinach, “which certainly requires no more labor in raising than a crop of Potatoes, continues to give a profit of at least three times as much per acre.”

I’ve always had trouble with spinach and last year vowed to never, ever attempt to sow it again. However, I’ve come across new information and will try again this year. Spinach is light and heat sensitive, meaning that if temperatures above 85 F and more than 12 to 13 hours of sunlight is present, then the plant will begin to bolt. I did not know that before. Why is that information not present on seed pack planting information? I could have saved some money if I had known that. Spinach is an early spring crop, but the terms early and spring mean something different to everyone.

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