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The beneficial properties of spinach are preserved only if the crop was harvested correctly and on time. This plant is one of the early ripening plants, moreover, it is not at all afraid of frost, accordingly, it can please the owners from spring to late autumn.
Our article will tell you when to remove a vegetable from the garden, how to do it correctly, and whether its leaves grow back after cutting. And also how many times a year spinach produces a crop and can overripe leaves be used.
When can you cut the finished vegetable?
You can harvest fresh, juicy, extremely healthy spinach leaves as early as 3 or 4 weeks after planting. The exact time depends on many factors, of which the plant variety and weather conditions are the most significant.
The most useful are delicate bright green leaves, fragile and juicy. The stem of young spinach is thin and brittle. If the stem has become thick and fibrous, the plant is overripe, its leaves most likely become bitter and have lost their beneficial properties. Likewise, if yellow or brown spots, holes and other damage appear on the leaves.
The main criterion for collection is very simple - it is the appearance of the bush.: as soon as the number of leaves on the plant has reached 5-6, you can safely reap the fruits of your labors and serve elegant, bright greens on the table. This period usually lasts until 9-12 leaves appear, then arrowing begins in almost all varieties.
Important! Do not be late with cutting spinach, this plant ripens very quickly, forming stems, after which it becomes unsuitable for food. In addition to the almost complete loss of taste and most vitamins, coarse spinach leaves accumulate a fairly large amount of oxalic acid, which is harmful to the human body.
How to use overripe leaves?
If desired, overripe spinach leaves can be used in home cosmetology., for example, in the manufacture of a rejuvenating face mask.
- The greens are crushed and boiled in milk for several minutes.
- Then the resulting gruel is applied to the face.
- After 20 minutes, wash off and apply a moisturizer.
Harvesting spinach is definitely necessary either in the morning or in the evening, since this plant is very delicate. It is better not to pluck its leaves during the day, as they will quickly fade. Plants are pulled out by the roots or cut.
If the harvest is final, the rosettes must be cut at the root.... The leaves will become less dirty, and the roots will decompose in the soil, returning the accumulated minerals to it. However, rooted spinach has a longer shelf life and is better than cut leaves.
You can harvest the whole crop at once, or you can, if time permits, pick off the leaves as they ripen, choosing the largest ones. Spinach leaves must be carefully broken off or cut from the stem; rough tearing will damage the bush. No more than half of the leaves can be removed from one plant! Selective harvesting allows you to extend the collection period and end it at the beginning of the shooting.
But if the spinach is planted densely and its rosettes prevent each other from growing, then young plants are thinned out and used for food.
Attention: after cutting, new greens grow only before shooting starts! Since spinach blooms quite quickly, we can say that leaving spinach to grow back after cutting is impractical, it will no longer give young, fresh greens.
How to properly remove a vegetable from the garden?
As already mentioned, for a successful harvest, a number of conditions must be met:
- Collect strictly in the morning or evening, so that the leaves do not wilted.
- Do not pick spinach in the rain, as wet leaves can rot. Do not water in the morning or let the leaves dry.
- Next, you should prepare a container for transportation, a film to cover the crop and, preferably, ice.
- If there is a lot of spinach, then it is pulled out together with the roots, shaken off so that the dirt from the roots does not stain the delicate greens and put in a container with the roots down.
- It is better to cover the boxes with plants with a foil, this will protect the leaves from external influences and sunlight. If the transportation is supposed to be long - put ice in the boxes.
Since spinach seeds are not always available in stores, it makes sense to leave some of the best, strongest bushes for seeds. Spinach is a dioecious plant; both male and female specimens are left to obtain seeds. Leaves are not harvested from these plants, they are given strength. Pollination occurs with the help of the wind, after which the male bushes will dry out. They should be removed from the garden as soon as this happens.
The seeds on the female plants are ready to be harvested when the leaves begin to turn yellow and the lower fruit buds open. Then the spinach is cut from the garden bed and hung in a dry, ventilated room, as it is necessary for the seeds to ripen. Then you should get the seeds, dry them again and pack them for storage in paper envelopes, signing the date of collection on them. Seed viability lasts 4 years.
Collecting spinach seeds is described in this video:
How many times a year can you get a crop?
This culture does not make the summer resident special requirements for cultivation, it pleases with the harvest even with minimal effort. It is realistic to get 2-3 harvests per year. The yield depends on the variety and planting time., it is highest in spring and early autumn.
Spinach does not like heat, prefers frequent, abundant watering and tends to bloom early with a significant increase in daylight hours.
Accordingly, the yield can be increased by abundant watering, timely thinning, observance of the light regime - it is better to hide delicate leaves from the scorching rays of the sun. Thinning is carried out one week after seed germination, then the topsoil should be loosened. Watered in dry weather every 2-3 days, focusing on 10-15 liters of water per square meter.
Attention: during the growing period, do not feed the spinach with manure, this will greatly impair the taste of the leaves! It is strictly forbidden to apply mineral fertilizers - spinach is prone to the accumulation of nitrates.
Spinach is best harvested on the day it is sold or eaten; this crop is not for long-term storage. In the first hours after collection, it should be placed in a cold, dark place. To preserve in the refrigerator, the bushes, along with the root, are washed with water and wrapped with cling film.
Properly grown and harvested spinach greens will become an indispensable source of vitamins, bring novelty to the taste of familiar dishes, and also protect against excess weight and age-related changes.