Common Name: Spinach (Spinacia oleracea)
Seed Saving Level: Advanced; spinach is a wind-pollinated annual. Seed savers should use one variety at a time to avoid cross-pollination.
Planting: Spinach grows best in cool, mild climates but is also tolerant of hot weather. Two leaf types: smooth and savoy (darker and heftier). Spinach likes full sun to partial shade. In cold soil, sow on top and sprinkle soil over; in warm soil, sow ½ inch deep. Germinates in 14-21 days. Space plants 6 inches apart. Matures in approximately 30-50 days. Crowded plants will bolt to seed more quickly.
Harvesting: Harvest entire plants by cutting just below the crown. The outer leaves can also be harvested even if growing as a seed crop. Left too long, oversize leaves taste bitter.
Seed Saving: Seeds will begin to bolt when daylight reaches 12.5-15 hours. Harvest seeds from later bolters. When seeds are dry, harvest the entire plant and thresh on a tarp or over a bowl. Alternatively, you can strip the seeds and leaves from the plants by pulling the stalk through your hands from the base up. Screens are helpful for cleaning.
Sources: Seed to Seed: Seed Saving and Growing Techniques for Vegetable Gardeners by Suzanne Ashworth, The Complete Guide to Saving Seeds by Robert Gough and Cheryl Moore-Gough, Old Farmer's Almanac
Recipe: Orecchiette with Goat Cheese & Spinach
by Bryce Benolken, M’s Pub, Omaha, NE
½ cup onion, diced
1 tsp. garlic
½ cup white wine
¼ cup goat cheese
1 T. kalamata olives
1 tomato, diced
1 pkg. Orecchiette pasta, cooked
½ cup spinach, chopped
Pinch of salt
Pinch of pepper
Saute onion and garlic until soft; add white wine and goat cheese. Mix until creamy, then add olives, tomato and Orecchiette. Toss until thoroughly coated. Add spinach, salt & pepper.
Source: From Our Kitchen To Yours (2005) by Omaha Restaurant Association