Boost your health by sowing spinach and silverbeet for a homegrown harvest in just 10 weeks
True or English spinach, Spinacia oleracea, is a fast cropper that is mostly grown in cool or cold regions.
In warm areas it tends to bolt to seed so is grown as a winter crop.
Silverbeet, or Swiss chard, actually belongs to the beetroot family and its botanical name is Beta vulgaris cicla.
It’s often mistaken for spinach but has thicker stalks and larger, darker, coarser, more crinkly leaves.
Silverbeet also has a longer cropping period than spinach and does better in warm areas.
Rainbow silverbeet, or rainbow chard, is a coloured variety with striking red, pink, orange and yellow stalks.
Spinach likes a position in full to part sun in well-drained soil enriched with well-rotted compost or manure.
Cool soil temperatures are needed for successful germination, so soak seeds in cold water overnight before planting to speed up the process.
Sow seeds thinly to 12mm deep in rows 300mm apart.
For a constant supply, sow seeds every three to six weeks, depending on the variety.
Water spinach regularly so that the plants don’t dry out, and apply a liquid fertiliser every two weeks to encourage fast growth.
Pick young outer leaves for salads or harvest from 10 weeks by cutting off the head or pulling the whole plant.
TIP: Pale green, limp leaves indicate the soil is low in nitrogen.