Less Noise, More Green: Growing Spinach Indoors

Monday, January 13, 2014

Growing Spinach Indoors

growing spinach under grow lights, urban faming
Here are the two varieties of spinach I planted.

It is the second week of January and I can't wait any longer. I have to grow something! There will be no planting outside for several months yet, but indoors is a different matter. I will begin starting seeds for transplant outdoors in earnest in February,  but I have a month or so before I need the grow lights. What to grow now?

          This is the seed starting mix I used, which is a mixture of sphagnum peat moss and  horticultural perlite. Do not use garden soil or potting soil for this first stage of growth.

The crop that comes to mind is spinach. I have tried unsuccessfully to grow spinach for seven years. SEVEN YEARS! I am not the only one to struggle with this crop. A fellow Master Gardener friend of mine is convinced the soil in Rhode Island just isn't alkaline enough to grow spinach.

I moisten the mix in a container, fill the cells, then firmly tap the cells on a hard surface to remove any trapped air. Top up with more mix, if necessary.

Last year I tried growing spinach indoors to transplant out. I started in March, the seeds germinated, but once they were under the grow lights, they quickly bolted. No spinach for me. Spinach is very sensitive to heat. It truly is a cold weather crop.I think the plants bolted because the grow lights were too close to the seedlings and the room was too warm. It had to be to encourage germination of other seeds.

I made a 1/2 " deep hole in each cell, added one seed and lightly covered with the mix. A spritz of water finishes the process.                           

The experiment for the next month is to see if I can successfully grow spinach indoors. The difference this time? It is the only crop I am growing so I can adjust the environment to its liking. I will keep the heat off and keep the grow lights further away from the seedlings. I will not transplant the seedlings outside, but rather into containers in a potting soil medium, which will be more alkaline than my garden soil, and keep them under the grow lights.

I use cut up strips of plastic cottage cheese containers for my markers which I label with permanent pen.

What do you think? Am I deluding myself? Have you tried growing spinach completely indoors - how did it do? I'd value any advice you have.

The seeds are covered to create a green house environment and placed by the window. I will spritz them every day with water and when they germinate, I will move the tray under the grow lights.

Here's hoping for a spinach salad by the end of February!



  1. So glad to see your post. I have just ordered all my seeds and I can't wait to get some growing. I am looking forward to see how you make out with this.

    1. Thanks, I hope this works! I hate when I can't figure out how to make a plant happy!