The time has come: January is drawing to a close, and you can finally tear out the first strip of seed-paper and begin your 2022 with The Growable Calendar.
Let's get Back to the Roots, baby!
Here's what's ahead:
Quick tips at a glance:
Seed depth: 2–3 cm, dark germs
Germination temperature: 10-20°C
Germination time: 14-21 days
Row spacing: 25 cm
Distance between plants: 30 cm
Root depth: 20 cm
Outdoor sowing/harvest: March – May / July – August
House sowing/harvest: February – April / May – August
Location: sunny to partially shaded
Soil: humic, loose, sandy-loamy
Feeding type: weak eaters
Strawberry spinach "spikey" looks just as crazy as its name suggests: red fruits form on the plants that are not harvested, which look very similar to those delicious summer berries. In terms of taste, comparing strawberries to strawberry spinach is a bit like comparing apples to orangutans. Still, the fruits of strawberry spinach are edible, in addition to acting as a pretty decoration for the green spinach stem.
In the past, when this plant was more widespread, the leaves would be used as a substitute for spinach, and they can naturally be used in today's cuisine in the manner their namesake would suggest.
So let's get started with your January seeds from The Growable Calendar.
Here's what you'll need:
Shower ball / device for watering
Field: Prepare the soil with compost
To get started indoors, fill your pots with potting soil and, using your fingers, prepare 3–4 holes in each pot, about 2–3 cm deep. Now put a snippet of paper with one seed in each hole. We recommend putting the printed side of the paper facing down. Close the seed holes and water everything with your shower ball or watering can. The soil must not dry out until germination. A room temperature of 16–22°C offers ideal conditions for this.
If you are planting outdoors, start your prep like this: If you want to repot your strawberry spinach in the bed later or sow it there immediately, you should enrich the soil with ripe compost at least two weeks in advance. Just work this in on top using a rake.
Outdoor sowing is possible from mid-March to May. When sown later, there is a risk that the plants will sprout due to excessively high temperatures. Once you have prepared the bed, make grooves at intervals of 25 cm that are 2-3 cm deep. Place the seeds in the grooves at a distance of 30 cm. Seal the grooves and water everything well. Keep the seeds moist until they germinate.
If you've sown in a pot: Has the first proper pair of leaves developed on your plants? Excellent! Now you can move them individually into a larger pot (diameter approx. 15 cm). This time, you'll use potting soil to give your young plants enough nutrients to grow.
From the pot to the bed: If wintry frosts are no longer expected (around mid-May), your preferred plants may move to the bed. Pay attention to the correct distance (25 x 30 cm) in order to prevent diseases and pests from having a point of concentration from which to attack. If you have very loamy soil, you can treat it with sand to prevent waterlogging.
For outdoor gardeners: If the plants have come up too close to each other in your seed bed, you will want to move them to a new place, or simply pluck out the weaker plants. If the plants grow too densely, they can be at risk of powdery mildew.
Strawberry spinach can grow in partial shade, but it definitely prefers sunny places. Its deep roots can develop very well in loose, sandy-loamy soil, which in turn allows your strawberry spinach to develop large leaves.
Good and Bad Neighbours
Good: spring onions, French beans, peas, potatoes, parsnips, tomatoes
Bad: any type of cabbage
Diseases and Pests
The main thing to watch out for with strawberry spinach is powdery mildew.
Your plants will be particularly at risk for this garden-Grinch if the growth is too dense. To avoid this, just ensure that there is sufficient spacing between the seeds when you plant them, as well as throughout the early stages of the growing process.
As soon as your strawberry spinach has donned its beautiful green leaves, you can harvest them. Since they can only be stored to a limited extent, it is best to harvest as needed. You can pluck off individual leaves, or cut off the upper part of your plant, then it will grow back over and over again over the course of the summer.
If you let some of the plants go unharvested, you can spend a few weeks admiring the crazy, red blossoms that give strawberry spinach its name. This is also very practical, because the fruits are where the seeds are contained. This means, your strawberry spinach can go on to sow itself. In the next year, many small plants will grow from the winter-hardy seeds without you even having to so much as crack your green knuckles.
Who doesn't like a little color in their salad?
If you're with us (and we sincerely hope you are), you should definitely consider your new strawberry spinach friends as the ideal candidate for a midday salad treat.
Not only is strawberry spinach easy to care for, but the leaves are a great substitute for spinach, with its fruits also serving as a colourful and eye-catching flourish to home garden and cuisine alike. Even if the fruits don't pack as sweet a punch as strawberries do in terms of taste, they can still shine – and brighten the mood at the table. The leaves, on the other hand, can easily keep up with spinach and can be prepared in the same way. Either enjoy raw, steam them, or include them in a stir-fry dish!
So let's talk about it! What do YOU think about strawberry spinach? From the growing to the enjoying, let us know in the comments below how you find your experience growing this first Back to the Roots seed as you officially begin your year 2022 with The Growable Calendar!
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