Spinach is packed with nutrients, making it a staple for healthy eating during the winter and spring. But federal data shows that conventionally grown spinach has more pesticide residues by weight than all other produce tested, with three-fourths of samples tested contaminated with a neurotoxic bug killer that is banned from use on food crops in Europe. Check out the printable DIRTY DOZEN from EWG
Based on the USDA tests, EWG’s Shopper’s Guide to Pesticides in Produce™ ranks spinach second on the Dirty Dozen™ list of fruits and vegetables with the most pesticides – a significant jump from its previous rank of eighth.
Seventy-six percent of the samples contained residues of permethrin, a neurotoxic insecticide. At high doses, permethrin overwhelms the nervous system and causes tremors and seizures.
But several studies also find a link between lower-level exposure to permethrin-type insecticides and neurological effects in children. In one study, children with detectable permethrin residues in their urine were twice as likely to be diagnosed with ADHD as children with non-detectable levels of the pesticide.
Fortunately, spinach is EASY to grow and as a cool weather crop is PERFECT to put into the ground now - April.
According to Gardening with Charlie the steps are simple and the results plentiful.
When to Plant
Spinach needs cool temperatures to grow and mature. It’s best planted as a spring or fall crop. Plant in spring 6 weeks before your last frost date, usually April. Spinach seeds can germinate with temperatures around 40F, so once the ground is dried out, start seeding. Continue planting small patches every 2 weeks until late spring to insure a continuous harvest.
Where to Plant
Spinach will grow with as little as a few hours of full sun, but forms the biggest leaves and plants in full sun. Since you’re planting so early, plant spinach on a bed raised 8 inches tall and 3 feet wide. The soil will dry out and warm up faster on the raised bed, allowing for faster germination and growth.
How to Plant
Amend the raised bed with compost before planting. Soak seeds overnight in warm water to start germination. The next day plant seeds 1 inch apart in rows spaced 12 inches apart. You can also broadcast seeds on top of the bed.
Care and Maintenance
Thin spinach seedlings to 6 inches apart when they’re 3 inches tall. Thinning helps the plants grow large and reduces the amount of diseases such as rust on the plants, by giving the plant more room to grow. Use the thinned seedlings in salads. Keep the soil cool and moist by watering regularly and mulching with a layer of an organic mulch, such as straw or untreated grass clippings, after thinning. If the young leaves are pale green or yellow colored, spray the plants with fish emulsion fertilizer. This quick reacting organic fertilizer will add nitrogen to help green up the leaves.
Where to Get Seeds and Starters?
Always check out the farmer's market in your area!! Supporting our local farmers is the best way to ensure access to pesticide free local grown foods.
Growing your own will help the appreciation of those farmers continuous hard work to bring us the bountiful varieties we enjoy.
Check out Restoration Seed for a HUGE variety of seeds specifically designed for growing and seed saving
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