Celebrate National Spinach Day with Gardening Galore

“Eat your spinach,” a phrase likely echoed by your mother, is more than just a childhood memory.

It’s a call to action for your health, and it’s never too late to heed this advice. In fact, let’s take this opportunity to celebrate National Spinach Day on March 26 (not to be confused with Fresh Spinach Day on July 16) by embracing this nutrient-packed leafy green in our diets.

But why stop at just eating spinach? Why not cultivate your own? Imagine the satisfaction of harvesting fresh spinach from your garden.

National Spinach Day is March 26, 2024
National Spinach Day is March 26, 2024

Growing the greens

Spinach thrives in cooler temperatures and may not fare well in extreme heat. It typically prefers to grow in temperatures averaging between 60 to 70 degrees. An annual plant, it’s not difficult to grow and can be started indoors from seed and transplanted when the weather works in your favor.

When it comes to choosing a variety, consider Savoy or Semi-Savoy spinach. Both are nutritious and versatile, but each has its unique characteristics. Savoy spinach, with its crinkly leaves and slightly bitter flavor, is cold-resistant. On the other hand, Semi-Savoy spinach, less crinkly and easier to clean, grows upright, is disease-resistant, and offers a buttery or minty flavor.

According to NationalDayCalendar.com, spinach grows natively in central and southwestern Asia, although it’s thought to have originated in ancient Persia. They say Arab traders carried spinach into India and eventually introduced it to ancient China via Nepal.

Fun facts

  • Spinach is a native plant of Persia, modern day Iran. It was introduced to China in the 7th century and was most probably brought to Europe in about the 12th century and to the US in 1806.
  • In the 10 years from 1992-2002, the annual consumption of spinach jumped 66% mostly due to the availability of pre-cut bagged spinach. 
  • In a survey conducted by Bon Appetit magazine in 2005, 56% of respondents touted spinach as their favorite vegetable.
  • Spinach is one of the few vegetables that is available year-round. It grows best in cool, not freezing, moist conditions especially during spring and autumn. It grows well in sandy soils.
  • California is the number 1 U.S. grower/supplier of fresh and processed spinach accounting for almost 75% of national production. Processed spinach can be canned, frozen, or pureed for baby food.
  • Popeye, a cartoon, was introduced in 1929 and U.S. spinach growers credited him with a 33% increase in domestic spinach consumption. It was a welcome boost especially during the depression era. Popeye was very strong because he ate spinach every day—that was the message he delivered in each cartoon.
  •  For many years, spinach was the third most popular children’s food after turkey and ice cream.

*Source: Healthysd.gov - Healthy South Dakota 

Whether you use spinach as a common ingredient in salads, enjoy it raw, or prefer it cooked, the important thing is to incorporate it into your diet. 

After all, mother knows best. So, heed her advice, and enjoy your spinach - you never know when Popeye might drop by for dinner! It’s best to be prepared.


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