Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Spinach: Spinacia oleracea

By Nina Berryman

Spinach is in the plant family Chenopodiaceae, along with Swiss chard, beets, quinoa and the common weed lamb’s quarters. It originated in central Asia and was cultivated in Europe in the 1350’s. Spinach is one of the few annual vegetables that produces either all female or all male flowers on one plant. If you let the plant go to flower and then to seed, all plants will flower but only the female plants will produce seed. Spinach seed is either prickly or smooth. Smooth seeded varieties produce wrinkled leaved plants, and prickly seeded varieties produce flatter leaves. Spinach is a cold weather crop, growing well in the spring and fall. Spinach is known for its high concentration of iron. However it can also have high concentrations of nitrate and oxalates which are not healthy to eat in large quantities. Nitrates will be high in spinach when large amounts of ammonia fertilizers are used.

Source: Ashworth, Suzanne. Seed to Seed. Seed Savers Exchange, Inc. Iowa. 2002

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