Growing spinach from seed can be challenging for beginners, but it’s actually super easy! The key is knowing how and when to do it. So, in this post I will show you everything you need to know about how to grow spinach seeds, step by step.
Spinach is a fast, low maintenance vegetable that is actually very easy to grow from seed. But timing is everything!
The biggest mistake newbies make is sowing the seeds too late, only to watch the plants bolt right away. Another common mistake is using the wrong method for starting spinach seeds.
Don’t worry, I will break it all down, and make it simple for you! I’m going to cover everything from the best planting method to use, to when to start, and give you detailed planting instructions.
I’ll also talk about germination time, seedling identification and care, fixing common problems, answer your FAQs, and much more! In the end, you’ll know everything you need in order to be successful.
Here’s what you’ll find in this detailed guide for growing spinach from seed…
Growing Spinach From Seed
If you have ever tried starting spinach from seed, then you probably know first hand just how tricky it can be.
But don’t worry, once you learn the secrets for success, you’ll have a garden full of these yummy greens!
The best part is that these instructions work no matter what type of spinach seeds you want to grow. Woohoo!
Types Of Spinach Seeds To Grow
You may be surprised to learn that there are several varieties of spinach seeds that you could grow. Some have slightly different flavors and textures, while others are slow bolting, or have larger leaves.
What Do Spinach Seeds Look Like?
If you’ve never planted them before, spinach seeds have a pretty distinct look to them. They’re generally about 1/4″ wide, though some may be smaller.
The best way to describe their shape is it look like a teardrop – one end is rounded, and the other is pointed. Their color can also vary, and be anywhere from brown to cream, or even yellowish.
Recommended Method For Sowing Spinach Seeds
Spinach doesn’t like to be transplanted, and doing so can trigger it to bolt prematurely. So, it’s best to direct sow the seeds, rather than starting them indoors or winter sowing them.
In fact, I don’t even recommend trying to start them indoors – it’s a recipe for failure. It’s actually really nice, because that means you don’t have to worry about buying any equipment or caring for the seedlings!
Related Post: 3 Seed Starting Methods That Every Gardener Should Try
When To Plant Spinach Seeds
Like I mentioned above, growing spinach from seed is all about timing. The key to success is planting it during the cooler months of the year.
If you plant them too late, the seeds may not germinate because it’s too warm. And even if they do end up germinating, the heat will trigger the plants to bolt right away.
Since it prefers the cold, plant spinach seeds directly into the garden 4-6 weeks before your average last frost date, or as soon as your soil is workable in early spring.
You could also plant the seeds in late summer for a fall harvest, since it’s such a fast growing crop. Spinach is cold hardy, so it won’t be killed off by spring or fall frosts.
If you live in a warmer climate with mild winters, sow the seeds once the weather cools down in the fall, and grow your spinach through the winter.
You can stagger your harvests by sowing the seeds intermittently throughout the spring and/or fall, so the plants mature at different times.
Planting Spinach Seeds
There’s nothing fancy you need to do before planting spinach seeds, no soaking nicking or cold stratification is necessary.
If you want to try it, soaking spinach seeds before planting can help to speed up germination time. But, since you’ll be sowing them directly into your garden, pre-soaking is not necessary.
How To Plant Spinach Seeds Step-By-Step
Probably the main thing that make spinach seeds so easy to grow is the fact that you don’t need any equipment at all. Just a weed-free spot in your garden, and a packet of seeds.
Here are the step-by-step instructions for planting spinach seeds…
Step 1: Prepare the soil – Loosen up the soil, and remove any weeds, or large rocks and sticks. Amend poor soil with compost or worm castings, and then mix an organic granular fertilizer into it before sowing the seeds.
Step 2: Figure out the spacing – You can either space the seeds 2″ apart, and then thin them later. Or space them 4-6″ apart if you don’t want to thin the seedlings.
Step 3: Plant the seeds – Spinach seeds should be planted 1/2″ deep. If you’re using fresh seeds, then you only need to plant one per hole. Otherwise, if they are old, then plant 2-3 per hole.
You can either lay the seeds on top of the soil, and gently push them down, or make holes first and drop them in.
I like to mark the row spacing with a line, then make shallow holes in the soil so I know exactly where the seeds will go.
Step 4: Cover the seeds – Once you’re done sowing the seeds, cover them with soil, and gently press it down. Don’t pack it tight, but just enough so that the soil will come in contact with the seeds.
Step 5: Water – Use a low setting on your garden hose so you don’t displace the seeds, then water the bed until the soil is evenly moist. Don’t overdo it though, the soil should not be completely saturated or soggy.
Related Post: How To Grow Seeds: The Ultimate Seed Starting Guide
Spinach Germination Time
When planted in the right soil, spinach seeds germinate very quickly. It only takes about 5-10 days for the seedlings to start emerging.
If the soil it too warm or too wet, it will inhibit germination. So, if your spinach seeds aren’t growing, then it could be too warm or soggy for them.
What Do Spinach Seedlings Look Like?
When they first pop out of the soil, baby spinach seedlings will have two long, narrow leaves. These are called the “seed leaves”. All of the ones that grow after that are called “true leaves”.
The true leaves look like tiny spinach leaves, and it only takes a couple of days for those to start forming after the seed leaves unfurl.
How To Care For Spinach Seedlings
Since it’s best to direct sow them, you don’t need to worry too much about caring for the seedlings. Woohoo! But here are a few tips to get them off on the right foot…
One of the reasons it’s so low maintenance is that, since it’s usually cool and wet in the spring, I rarely need to worry about watering my spinach plants.
Spinach likes a lot of water, but it doesn’t like wet or saturated soil. Make sure to grow it in a spot in your garden that has fast draining soil, and never allow it to dry out completely.
I like to top-dress my soil with a granular fertilizer before I plant the seeds to give them the extra nutrients they need.
Thinning Spinach Seedlings
If you planted more than one seed per hole, or sowed them too close together, then you’ll need to thin the seedlings.
Once they get to be about 2″ tall with a few true leaves, thin them out so they are about 4-6″ apart. Simply choose the healthiest one to keep, and then remove the rest.
How Long From Seed To Harvest
As I’ve already mentioned a few times, spinach if very fast growing. So it will be one of the first things you harvest from your garden in the spring.
It takes about 45 days to grow spinach from seed to harvest. Some of the leaves may be large enough to pick before then, which is great.
But make sure you don’t remove all of the leaves when you harvest. They need to have some of them in order to keep growing and producing.
Troubleshooting Common Problems
There’s nothing worse than taking the time to plant all those seeds, only to have problems that you don’t know how to fix.
So, below I will list a couple of the most common problems you may have when growing spinach seeds, and how to fix them…
- Spinach seeds not germinating – If your seeds never germinated, then it was either too wet, too warm, or the seeds were old, and no longer viable. Always plant fresh spinach seeds in well draining, cool soil for best results.
- Seedlings aren’t growing – If your seedlings aren’t growing any larger, it could be because it’s too shady, the soil is either too wet or dry, or the weather is too hot for them. Keep the soil evenly moist, and try feeding them to see if that helps to trigger new growth. Otherwise, next time adjust your placement and/or planting schedule.
- Spinach seedlings bolting – There are two things that trigger spinach seedlings to bolt right away. They were either transplanted, or the temperature is too hot. To avoid this next time, never transplant the seedlings, and always either plant the seeds in very early spring, or in the fall for a winter crop.
FAQS About Growing Spinach Seeds
In this section, I will answer some of the most frequently asked questions about growing spinach from seed. If you have a question that you can’t find the answer to, ask it in the comments below.
How many spinach seeds per hole?
If you’re using fresh spinach seeds, then plant one per hole. Otherwise, if they are old or have a low viability rate, then plant 2-3 seeds per hole.
How deep do you plant spinach seeds?
The general rule of thumb is to plant a seed twice as deep as it is wide. So, spinach seeds should be planted about 1/2″ deep.
What is the best temperature to grow spinach seeds?
They will germinate the best at temperatures between 50-70F degrees, but the ideal germination temperature for spinach is between 60-65F.
How long does it take to grow spinach from seeds?
On average, it takes about 45 days from planting spinach seed to harvest time. Some varieties are faster than others, so check the seed packet for exact timing.
Do spinach seeds need light to germinate?
No, spinach seeds do not need light to germinate.
Should spinach seeds be soaked before planting?
Soaking spinach seeds before planting is optional. It can help to speed up germination, but it’s not necessary.
Why are my spinach seedlings dying?
The most common reasons why spinach seedlings die is improper watering (either too much or not enough), too much sun and heat, transplanting, or fertilizer burn.
They grow best in cold weather and will start to die as soon as it gets hot, so plant them as early as possible.
They prefer the shade rather than full sun, and like evenly moist soil – never soggy or completely dried out.
Also, sow the seeds directly into the ground, because the seedlings do not transplant well.
How do you grow spinach seeds indoors?
I do not recommend growing spinach seeds indoors. Transplanting the seedlings will trigger them to bolt. Instead, you should direct sow them right into your garden.
Growing spinach from seed can be tricky if you’ve never tried it before. Just remember, timing is everything. The secret to success is planting spinach seeds as soon as you possibly can, before the weather starts to warm up in the spring.
If you want to learn more about growing your garden from seeds using any method you want, check out my online Seed Starting Course! It’s a comprehensive online course that you can take at your own pace (and from anywhere in the world!), with lifetime access, and step-by-step guidance! Sign up and get started today!
Or do you just need a refresher or quick-start guide to get going? Then my Starting Seeds Indoors eBook is just what you need!
More Posts About Growing Seeds
- How To Plant & Grow Lettuce From Seed
- How To Grow Perfect Carrots From Seed
- How To Plant & Grow Radishes From Seed
Share you tips for growing spinach from seed in the comments section below!