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We are a spinach-loving family, and so I wanted to know how much spinach we should grow per person to satisfy our needs, even for the whole year.
To do so, I figured out how many successions of spinach I can grow over the course of a season, how much a spinach plant will yield, and how much spinach everyone eats.
Each of these steps may be trickier than they appear, but not to worry. In this post, you’ll be shown how to calculate these steps for your own family while following my examples.
By the end, if you follow along, you’ll know how many spinach seeds to sow per person and per succession for the amount you want—whether you want to grow a year’s worth of spinach, or not.
How much spinach can one plant produce?
Once you know which spinach you’ll be growing, you’ll need to know how much spinach to expect per plant.
Last year, when I grew Winter Giant, Bloomsdale Longstanding, and Monstrueux de Viroflay, I counted the number of leaves harvested from 2 plants of each variety.
On average, 25 leaves per plant is expected across all spinach varieties. If harvesting baby spinach, you may get up to 40 leaves per plant. Some varieties will yield larger leaves than others and the growth rate will vary based on temperature, nutrients, and water.
Later, we will use this information to determine how many spinach plants you should grow per person.
Continuous harvesting techniques and succession planting will also play a role in the number of seeds you’ll sow.
How do you harvest spinach so it keeps growing?
You can harvest spinach in a way that it will continue to grow, and the first step is to not cut the plant at the base. Cutting a spinach plant at the base will halt its growth altogether.
For continuous growth and harvesting from each plant, pick an average of 3 spinach leaves per plant up to 8 times before they are due for bolting. Before they bolt, from increased heat or day length, cut the plant at the base to harvest the remaining leaves and replant the plot.
Harvesting no more than 1/3 of the leaves of a spinach plant will allow it to recover from the harvest while encouraging it to keep growing.
How much spinach should you eat per serving?
Your serving size of spinach is a crucial variable for determining the right number of seeds to sow per person, or for a whole family.
In general, a large handful, or two, per person is an average serving size of fresh spinach. Blanched and frozen spinach, however, is up to 5 fresh handfuls of spinach per serving.
Each spinach plant produces an average of two heaping handfuls of either mature or baby spinach, so you’ll need one plant per meal, per person (when fresh)—Even though you’ll be harvesting by leaf, not by the plant!
If these serving sizes don’t suit your needs, make sure you determine your own serving sizes.
Since fresh meals are a different serving size than cooked meals, you’ll need to learn how long your fresh-harvesting window is so you can produce the right number of plants.
After we cover frequency, I’ll talk about how to divide your successions for optimal yields.
How often do you eat spinach fresh?
Eating spinach fresh is a different game than frozen.
On average, how often do you eat fresh salads or sandwiches that include spinach?
In summer, we tend to eat fresh greens 2-3 times per week.
Every couple of years, I re-calculate all of the crops I want to grow as my food habits change over time with my garden, so I use this custom crop calculator to make this quick and simple.
So I enter our average consumption each week which can be logged and entered, or estimated off the top of your head.
Now I see we eat spinach on average 2.5 times per week. From here, we enter the number of months we consume fresh spinach.
In our case, we have fresh harvests for about 4 months and it keeps in the fridge for another half month. So I’ll say 4.5 months.
Now I see that I’ll need to sow a total of 25 spinach plants per person—and they don’t all have to be planted at once! More about that below in ‘successions.’
This answer is also based on our serving size per meal (which you would change based on your needs).
How often do you eat spinach frozen?
If you wish to be self-sufficient in spinach (since prices are going up, and they are preserved in bags with chemicals, are fresher, and more nutritious from the garden, and free from pesticides and other unknown substances) then you’ll need to grow enough spinach to freeze!
You can do the same math.
If using a crop calculator, then you switch the serving size number from 1 plant per serving to 5 plants per serving—or to any serving size that is appropriate and realistic for you!
You’ll also change the frequency per week and the number of months.
We cook with frozen spinach about 1-2 times per week and only have frozen spinach for 7.5 months.
Based on the average yield per plant, the results show that I’ll need to sow 195 plants per person for ‘storage’ spinach. Since each serving size is greater and the number of months is longer.
Below, I’ll explain how to divide your succession plantings for the best results. (The number you need is not as daunting as it looks! Spinach can be sown with 9 plants per square foot! And all sown in smaller intervals…)
How much spinach for a family of 4?
With all the average numbers the answer per person is clear. For a family, all you need to do is scale it up.
You’ll need an average of 600 plants to feed a family of 4 for a year for fresh and frozen spinach. This sound like a lot but when divided between 4-6 successions, you only need to sow an average of 100-125 spinach seeds for four people. that’s about 120 square feet of space for a year of spinach.
Planning Spinach Successions
Spinach successions are the best way to extend the fresh-harvesting period. After your fresh-harvesting period is over, you’ll be left with whatever spinach you were able to freeze.
Take your big number of spinach plants needed per person, and divide that by the number of successions you can plant for both spring and fall.
You can figure out how many spinach successions make sense for your climate with a schedule based on frost dates.
If you already know your spinach-planting windows relative to your frost dates, continue on.
Fresh versus frozen spinach
When planted right, we have a harvesting window of 10 weeks in spring to early summer and 9-10 weeks in fall to early winter.
Homegrown spinach will keep in the fridge for about 10 days.
So here in zone 5, we go about 30 weeks without fresh-eating spinach and we eat one plant’s worth per meal per person.
Frequency fresh spinach is consumed
- We have fresh spinach available for 20-22 weeks
- We eat 1 plant worth of fresh spinach per person per meal
- We need 25 total plants per person
I recommend you plant a fresh-eating spinach patch and divide the total needed by the number of successions you’ll sow.
- 25 plants / 4 successions = 7 plants (rounded up)
- Sow 7 spinach seeds per person per week for fresh eating
Always round up in a spacious garden, and pick and choose in a space-limited garden.
Frequency frozen spinach is consumed
- We only have frozen spinach for 30-32 weeks
- We eat 5 plants worth of cooked spinach per person per meal
- We need 195 total plants per person
I recommend you intentionally plant your ‘storage’ spinach while the soil temperatures are ideal for germination.
Divide the total plants needed by 2 or 4;
- 1-2 successions to be sowed in spring
- and 1-2 successions to be sowed in the fall
- 195 plants / 4 successions = 50 plants (rounded up)
- Sow 50 spinach seeds per person during optimal whether for storage-spinach
How sowing spinach in successions works in general:
As your cold hardy spinach varieties expire, the heat-tolerant varieties will still produce for multiple weeks.
In spring, we have a 6-8 week window to sow spinach successions here in zone 5. Our last frost is usually around May 10-14.
As a bonus in a cold frame, we could also winter-sow Giant Winter spinach in mid-February and they would germinate before any window-successions.
Our first succession is the first or second week of April, a week after the snow melts.
Most spinach seeds germinate moderately well in soil temperatures of 37-40*F (3-4*C). The ideal soil temperature for germinating spinach seeds is between 45-68*F (7-16*C).
We sow each succession 1-2 weeks apart as we feel like it.
The first 1-3 successions are sown in a warm area. The next 1-3 successions are sown in an area that will be cooler as summer approaches.
We usually sow 2-3 successions for spring and fall, totaling 4-6 per growing season.
A partially shaded spot for your final successions will extend your harvest window by preventing bolting even for heat-tolerant spinach.
As a rule, sow your first and second successions in warmer soils to get them going, and sow the following spinach in cooler soils and reserve the coolest soil for the final succession.
The warm-soil spinach will expire by the time you are ready to transplant warm-loving crops into those sunnier positions. The cool-soil areas will extend your spinach harvest into warm temperatures.
What is the easiest spinach to grow?
We’ve all grown the wrong spinach in the wrong place or time making this ‘easy’ crop difficult to grow. Tweaking our timing and the type of spinach can make all the difference in growing it.
The easiest spinach to grow is a suitable variety for your growing zone and the time of year you are sowing for. In early spring, for example, you’ll be sowing cool-loving spinach and in late spring, you’ll be sowing a heat tolerant spinach to extend your harvest.
The easiest type of spinach for you also hinges on your growing zone.
Growing zones above USDA 9 will have a difficult time growing any true spinach. Malabar and New Zealand spinach aren’t true ‘spinaches,’ but are your best options for zones 7 and up.
You may be able to try growing FanTail spinach during the cool parts of your season.
If you’re in zone 7 and up, you’ll want to incorporate Malabar spinach and New Zealand spinach into your garden with some heat-tolerant true spinach varieties.
The best heat-tolerant spinach options are FanTail, Escalade, Indian Summer, Bloomsdale Longstanding, and Catalina. Mountain spinach, a non-true spinach, also known as orach, can grow in zones 4-8.
Zones 4-6 can grow the most spinach varieties. Combine the heat-tolerant varieties and winter garden varieties into your sowing schedule for a long harvest window.
Zones 1-3 can grow heat-tolerant varieties through summer but will focus on the hardiest spinach varieties for spring and fall.
Winter Giant spinach is a winter hardy and easy type to grow.
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