You can successfully grow spinach in an indoor container garden provided you can expose it to full sun, use well-drained soil, and maintain a moderate watering system. Alas, there are also some pitfalls that you have to be aware of. Read on for tips and warnings about how to best grow spinach in an urban, indoor container garden during your coronavirus isolation (or whenever the mood strikes).
We love spinach, and when it is healthy, it is also a beautiful plant. “When it is healthy” being the critical part of that sentence. Let’s start at the beginning.
What do you need to grow spinach in an indoor container garden?
1. Full sun
2. Quick draining soil
3. A moderate watering schedule
5. Patience of a saint
Easy enough, right? Hmmmmm.
Spinach Seedlings Arrive
We were able to do a curbside, contact-less pickup of some gorgeous Corvair spinach seedlings here in Los Angeles on May 28th. We had already enjoyed some minor success (see our okra blog), and I was feeling irrationally overconfident that I was going to be known the world over as a container gardening genius. My urban garden ideas would be shared throughout the land. Yeah — I should have known better.
As you can see, the seedlings were a deep green, and there was no sign of fungus or any other difficulties. It was unusually hot in their early days in our apartment, and we don’t have air conditioning. Still, I thought our watering schedule would keep them from getting too dried out. And, at first, things went smoothly.
Container Garden Transfer
By the 31st, I had the idea that it was time to fill one of my container garden trays with nitrogen-rich, organic soil for transplant. I then attempted to gently move the seedlings into the trays. Well, they did move, but gentle didn’t really happen. In fact, I had such a hard time getting them out of their mini trays that I feared I had shocked the roots. Thankfully, they seemed to take to the transplant reasonably well, with only one or two plants the worse for the transition.
I moved the spinach container to the front of the garden closest to the window. While it is south-facing, and there is a lot of light, it comes in through glass or a screen. This is not optimal, as spinach really does prefer full sun. We don’t have an accessible balcony, and it would be a hazard to put them on our fire stairs. So, they had to stay in the office. We crossed fingers that there would be enough light.
The Spinach Container Garden Harvest
We had two strong harvests full of delicious spinach from our container garden. Both times, I did a little dance of joy when I was able to snip spinach for our lunch. Does it taste better than what we used to get in the grocery store? I would say “yes,” but how much is that perception and appreciation for the work that went into getting our patch to grow? The good news is that we gave each bite a thumbs up and rejoiced in our new careers as urban, indoor container gardening pros.
UGH!!! About two weeks ago, white rust started appearing on our spinach plants. This is not a new problem – people have been talking about it since the early 1900s. We think it came on because we kept the plants too moist, and the mold spores were spread by the wind (the breeze comes through the south-facing window most afternoons). We cut everything in the container back, and we are hoping that we can grow new leaves that are white rust-free. If not, we’ll have to cut our losses, dump the soil in that container garden tray, and start again because we don’t want to use fungicide.
Believe it or not, we still have a lot of optimism about our indoor container garden experience. We have tons of ideas and plans for the future. We also have a significant appreciation for the work that goes into organic farming (or any kind of farming) – this is not easy. I’m not sure who first said that gardening was a stress-reliever, but they clearly never tried to do it inside an apartment office in a city.
Still, we are pressing on. For more stories of our container garden adventures, tips, and planning ideas, stay tuned to Those Someday Goals.