Real Men Sow

I Really Should Eat More Perpetual Spinach.

I really should eat more spinach. Or perpetual spinach, to be precise.

According to the RMS Veg Savings Spreadsheet, it is by far the most expensive vegetable presently on the plot or in store. At £8.30 a kilo, it is £1.30 more expensive at that weight than the next priciest veg, curly kale.

Healthy and Readily Available
Not that this is why I should increase my spinach intake. I should harvest this wondrous leafy green because it is really healthy. Perpetual spinach is actually a type of chard, but from what I can gather, is still as good for me as the true Popeye stuff. The only difference is that perpetual spinach is available all year round.

Generally, my sowings have lasted me about 9 months before going to seed, meaning that with a little careful planning, I’ve been munching spinach continuously for the last three years. Even better than this, it is a come and cut again vegetable, meaning the more I pick it, the more it grows.

So not only is it tremendously good for me, its hardy and there whenever I want it.

Covert Healthiness
Plus, it’s a little like covert healthiness. One of the things I love most about spinach is its versatility. I’ve folded it in to all sorts of recipes where it isn’t required but has tasted great, and upped my 5 a day count with no fuss whatsoever.

Curries, tarts, fajitas, pizzas, pasta and quiches have all had some succulent spinach leaves squeezed in to them. I steam or blanche the spinach first, and then just envelope it in to the rest of the ingredients.

Dead Easy to Grow
Perpetual spinach is also possibly the easiest thing I’ve ever grown. I sow half a row in early Spring and another one in late Autumn, which sees me right all through the winter. I sprinkle seeds into a thinly dug row, and then just keep the row watered. Normally I don’t even bother to thin the seedlings out.

It is also more than happy in shade, so makes a great veg to grow if you’ve got a sun-starved spot on the allotment.

All this brings me back to my first sentence. I really should eat more spinach. I’ve only made a measly six pickings this year, saving £4.64 from a total of 559g. It’s almost as if I take the spinach’s proud permanent presence for granted.

Perpetual Spinach in Containers
I think half my trouble is that slipping spinach in to dinner is often an off the cuff decision, and not something I plan harvests around.

This year, I have a cunning plan. I’m going to grow some perpetual spinach in a container down the side of my house (or soon-to-be lovely summer kitchen garden as I prefer to call it!). A decent trough-type pot should do it, and lovely spinach will be on hand whenever I need it.

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13 Comments

  1. EmmaMarch 13, 2011 at 9:40 amReply

    Perpetual spinach was one of the first crops I ever grew – it’s so easy! As you say, it’s easy to take it for granted, but it’s a useful source of greens nearly all year round. And the chickens love it, too, and it’s versatile in the kitchen. We should all eat more of it :D

    • Jono

      JonoMarch 13, 2011 at 10:05 amReplyAuthor

      Hi Emma.

      I was thinking the other day that it would be a great crop to grow if I had chickens. Must work out cheap, and is around most of the time, especially if picked regularly.

      Wouldn’t want to let them have it all though!

  2. Alan @ it's not work, it's gardening!March 14, 2011 at 1:00 pmReply

    What is it? It’s definitely not a common plant here in the US. Off to Google!

    • Jono

      JonoMarch 14, 2011 at 8:50 pmReplyAuthor

      Any luck with your Googling Alan?

      Its actually a variety of chard. I’m guessing you have Swiss Chard and the like in the US?

  3. carlyMarch 14, 2011 at 9:40 pmReply

    Ooh I have some Perpetual Spinach seeds actually! When do you plant your first lot?

    Carly.

  4. Alan @ it's not work, it's gardening!March 15, 2011 at 12:32 amReply

    Yep, found out the details. It’s not a variety I’ve ever seen in the seed packet displays though. I’m keeping my eyes open though, and if I place another mail order I’ll see if I can find some.

  5. xmarkstheplotMarch 15, 2011 at 11:03 amReply

    Spinach is one of the easiest things I’ve ever grown. I’m growing Mikado this year. It says I can sow in March but am I best doing this under cover/fleece. I’ve asked someone the same question about radishes too. Or should I wait until April when it’s warmer… apparently.

  6. Jono

    JonoMarch 15, 2011 at 1:08 pmReplyAuthor

    Alan – let me know how you get on if you do order some.

    Carly – Go for it! I normally put mine in March / April, and then some more in August, straight into the ground. It grows really fast.

    X – Fleece would probably help, although its pretty mild around our way. As the crow flies, I don’t think you’re very far from me.

    Radishes will be one of the first I plant. Might try some in containers too – my container soil always seems warmer than the allotment stuff.

  7. CroilaMarch 15, 2011 at 2:08 pmReply

    Oooh, brilliant article! In fact, brilliant site! What a great resource this is – loads of great advice. I love all the photos too, it really brings it all to life. You know what would be even better though? If you had a “receive updates by email” facility! ;-) (Or maybe you have and I’ve not noticed it?)

    Anyway, I digress. I just wanted to ask you how the heck you cook perpetual spinach and what you have it with? I grew some last year, just one square foot of it, but I … erm … actually ended up composting most of it cause I didn’t know the best way of actually cooking/eating it :-/

    • Jono

      JonoMarch 15, 2011 at 7:09 pmReplyAuthor

      Thanks Croila, that’s really kind of you to say. Never thought I’d need a subscribe button, but perhaps I’ll look in to it now.

      I put it in curries and casseroles a lot, but wait until the dish is almost ready. If its got some kind of sauce, I chop the spinach and put it in five minutes or so before serving. The sauce will blanche it into a manageable size.

      If I put it into quiche or on a pizza or something, I’ll blanche it first and then put add it before putting the whole thing in the oven.

      As a side dish I chop it up and blanche it, and sometimes squeeze some lemon on top when serving.

      Hope that helps?

  8. CroilaMarch 16, 2011 at 8:00 amReply

    Jono, Feedburner does a pretty simple email subscribe function … just in case you were ever to do this :-)

    Thanks for the spinach info, much appreciated. I’ve always thought, aye, it’s something that is SO good for you, it’s just I’m not a great fan of the taste. I put it in omelettes, but nothing else, so it’s good to have some new ideas. Cheers for that! :-D

  9. Real Men Sow » Blog Archive » How Much Money Can Growing My Own Save Me? March UpdateApril 2, 2011 at 8:30 amReply

    [...] also continued to harvest spinach, although I didn’t increase my spinach consumption as much as I said I would, and my squashes made me megabucks each time I fetched one from store. I used 3 squashes in March, [...]

  10. Real Men Sow » Blog Archive » What Else to Sow NowJuly 25, 2011 at 8:39 pmReply

    [...] Spinach Also going straight into the ground will be my ever-reliable perpetual spinach. This chard variety is the winter unsung hero of my allotment, I reckon. It’s good to eat, easy [...]

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About Real Men Sow

meIn 2007, I took on a redundant allotment plot with my gardening-mad mum Jan. As all good mums do, she went along with it, but I don’t think she held out much hope.

However, three years on, and she now lets me do stuff without watching over my shoulder, so I must be doing something right. [ read more ]

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