After the Winter Spinach (1)

There are three of my vegetables that can survive after the mild Winter outdoor in British Columbia, Canada. They are re-growing and will be harvested again; those are the spinach tyee hybrid, mustard greens variety ruby streaks, and carrot bolero pelleted.

The carrot is not much, it’s only one plant. The mustard greens are very common passed over the winter, but the next harvest is for the seeds only not for the leaves that’s getting tougher and pungent. The spinach is abundance and amazing for salad mix. It’s still the same producing fresh crispy leaves and has a superb flavor.

Sure, that the best compost such as vermicompost or worm castings and the awesome climate in Greater Vancouver Area (including the highest quality water in the world) have supported the survival of the fittest some vegetables over this Winter.

The first photo above is the spinach tyee hybrid plants (at the front) and ruby streaks mustard greens (taller plants at the back) that have been planted since early Autumn September 2017 and both vegetables have already been harvested for more than five times. The second and third photos are a six month old spinach plants look like. These photos were taken in early Spring in the first weekend of April 2018.

The spinach reminds me of the cartoon Popeye the Sailor and his girlfriend Olive Oyl. Both spinach and olive oil are healthy and match combination for salads. The popularity of Popeye helped to boost of growing and eating spinach, and specially introducing the healthier eating to the children. An article about How to win the kid v. veggies battle by Katie Hewitt at Toronto Globe and Mail (updated March 26, 2017) reported that using Popeye as a role model for healthier eating may work; a 2010 study revealed that children increased their vegetable consumption after watching Popeye cartoons.

The power of spinach and Popeye have a long history back to January 1929. The cartoon was created by American cartoonist, Elzie Crisler Segar. In 1933, Max Fleischer an animator and film director adapted the character into a series of Popeye the Sailor theatrical cartoon short for Paramount Pictures.

A frequently circulated story claims that Fleischer’s choice of spinach to give Popeye strength was based on faulty calculations of its iron content. In the story, a scientist misplaced a decimal point in an 1870 measurement of spinach’s iron content, leading to an iron value ten times higher than it should have been. This faulty measurement was not noticed until the1930s. While this story has gone through longstanding circulation, recent study has shown that this is a myth, and it was chosen for its vitamin A content alone.

The days to sprout of this GMO free spinach are 7 – 14 days and the days to maturity are 37 – 43 days. Truly a four-season spinach, these plants are widely adapted and thrive in cool weather. Tyee hybrid spinach loves partial or full sunshine, it lasts better in warm weather than most other varieties. It’s a favorite salad among gardeners for its superior disease resistance. It’s a favorite among diners for the rich flavor and nutritional value of its large, semi-savoyed, deep green leaves. They have a rich, succulent, yet meaty bite, quite substantial and satisfying.

This plant holds its foliage upright, off the ground, so even the bottom leaves develop full and clean. Reaching just 15cm high and up to 30cm wide, it is a neat, very dense spinach, as attractive as it is delicious. Cut or carefully snap off outer leaves when 10cm long, leaving centre to form new leaves. And it’s ready in no time, yet will hold for a week or so in peak condition without losing a jot of its flavor or texture. You’ll love them fresh from the garden or sauteed in stews and stir-fries.

I can’t wait to harvest more salad from this spinach plants. The second application of the vermicompost in this wet Spring weather hopefully will support my spinach plants to produce more roots, leaves, flowers, and seeds. So, I may collect the seeds for the next planting trials.

(to be continued…)

– Bintoro Gunadi

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