You are sure to enjoy the best-tasting salad with greens you
have grown. Spring greens such as spinach and lettuce are easy
to grow in a full-sun to part-shade garden location or in a
container garden on a patio.
Cool spring (and fall) temperatures are ideal for growing
leafy greens. Spinach is a cool-season crop that thrives when
the average daily temperature is between 60 and 70 degrees. This
cold-hardy green can withstand temperatures as low as 20
degrees. However, spinach cannot withstand hot summer days. High
temperatures and long days cause plants to bolt, or produce a
seed stalk. In addition, leaves may become bitter and have a
poorer texture. For late spring plantings, look for varieties
that are marked "long-standing" or "slow to bolt."
The first planting of spinach can be made as soon as the soil
is prepared in the spring. Plant seeds one-half-inch deep and
spaced 4 inches apart. If the soil was prepared in the fall,
seeds can be broadcast over frozen ground or snow cover in late
winter and they will germinate as the soil thaws. A uniform
supply of moisture is essential to produce rapid leaf
development. Spinach plants have few insect and disease
Spinach leaves may be cut when they are large enough to use.
Spinach is a fast-growing, short-lived plant, maturing 37 to 45
days after planting. Spinach can be harvested as a micro-green
when seedlings have one or two true leaves -- about two weeks
after planting. Baby greens are harvested about one month after
Spinach can be harvested two different ways. One way is to
remove the outer leaves and allow younger leaves to develop. The
other option is to harvest the whole plant when at least five or
six leaves have formed. Just before serving, rinse greens in
cold water. Spinach should be eaten while fresh and crisp.
Spinach makes a great salad, either stand-alone or mixed with
other greens. If cooking spinach, be sure to use a quick-cooking
method, such as blanching, sautéing or steaming. Spinach has a
high nutritional value and is low in calories. One cup of raw
spinach has only 7 calories but provides 56 percent of the daily
value for vitamin A and 15 percent of the daily value for
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For more information on recommended varieties, growing and
harvesting spinach, visit the University of Illinois Extension
"Watch Your Garden Grow" website at
Strawberry Spinach Salad
2 bunches of spinach
1 pint strawberries
1/2 cup sugar
2 tablespoons sesame
1 tablespoon poppy seeds
1/2 teaspoon minced
1/4 teaspoon paprika
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1⁄3 cup cider vinegar
Wash spinach leaves
and strawberries in clear water and drain well.
Remove stems from
spinach leaves, tear into bite-sized pieces and place in a large
Remove stems from
strawberries, slice and add to spinach.
Cover and chill until serving time.
In a blender or
food processor, combine sugar, sesame and poppy seeds, onion,
Worcestershire sauce, and paprika.
running, add oil and vinegar.
Toss spinach and strawberries with
about half the dressing (reserving the rest for another recipe).
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