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13 Jun 2022

How to grow spinach and best varieties

Spinach is easy to grow, tasty and nutritious. Find out which varieties will give you the best harvest and get tips on how to grow them
Which?Editorial team

Baby leaf spinach is a popular salad veg that's readily available in supermarkets or you can leave the plants to grow larger leaves, perfect for cooking. It's tasty and nutritious and really easy to grow your own - and with successional sowing (sowing little and often) you can harvest it almost all year round.

The Which? Gardening magazine researchers wanted to find the tastiest and most-productive varieties.

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How to grow spinach: month by month



Best spinach varieties

Which? members can log in now to see the full results and which are our Best Buy varieties. If you’re not a member, join Which? to get instant access.


This variety isn’t a true spinach but often comes up if you search for spinach seeds online. It is in fact komatsuna or mustard spinach, which as its name suggests has a slight mustard flavour. The small brassica-like seeds germinated very quickly, producing attractive red-brown, rounded leaves. The June sowing suffered badly from flea-beetle attack, so it’s best to keep it covered with insect-proof netting, but the March and August sowings produced a good harvest of flavoursome leaves.

Yield baby leaf 211g Yield mature leaf 290g


This variety produced the largest yield of baby leaves from the first sowing and a good crop of both baby and mature leaves from the subsequent sowing dates. The dark-green, rounded leaves have a slightly blistered texture and pleasant flavour, while the large seeds made hand-sowing easy. This variety claims to be resistant to powdery mildew and slow to bolt and this was borne out in our trial; it also holds an RHS AGM.

Yield baby leaf 269g Yield mature leaf 259g


The leaves of this variety were very similar to one of our other Best Buys though a paler green and with a slightly more pronounced spinach taste. We picked above average amounts of baby leaves from all the sowing dates and had an average harvest period of 28 days for baby leaves across the three sowings. It was slow to bolt and didn’t succumb to mildew. It holds an RHS AGM.

 Yield baby leaf 254g Yield mature leaf 175g

Full testing results for spinach

Variety nameOverall ratingYield baby leafYield mature leafHarvest period baby leafResistance to boltingGermination Flavour

USING THE TABLE The more stars the better. Yields are from three pots and three sowing dates. OVERALL RATING Ignores price and is base on: yield of baby leaves 35%; yield of mature leaves 20%; harvest period 10%; bolting 10%; germination 10%; flavour 15%

How we test spinach

The Which? Gardening magazine researchers chose three sowing dates to replicate successional sowing and sowed three 4L pots for each variety with 25-30 seeds in mid-March, late June and early August at our trial site in East Anglia. The pots were filled with a Best Buy compost for raising young plants. We picked baby leaves from the first pot of each variety twice a week, recording the weight. The second pot for each variety was allowed to grow into mature leaves which were then picked twice a week and the weight recorded. The third pot for each variety was left untouched to assess bolting and mildew resistance.

How to grow


Sow in modules for transplanting or thinly into large pots or a prepared seed bed, from mid-March to May. You can sow little and often or just pick the outer leaves each time, leaving the rest to carry on growing. Sow hardy varieties in August and September for winter harvests.


Plant out module-grown seedlings at a spacing of around 20cm. Thin direct-sown plants to 7.5cm apart then harvest alternate plants a few weeks later, leaving the remainder to grow into the space.

Caring for your plants

Water well in dry spells. 


Pick leaves regularly once they are large enough to eat, working in from the outside of the plant and leaving the middle leaves to carry on growing.

Common growing problems

Flying pests

Flying pests including aphids, flea beetles and pigeons can be kept off your crop by covering plants with a fine mesh when you plant out. 

Read more about protecting your crops from birds

Read about protecting your crops from aphids


Downy and powdery mildew can be a problem in mild, humid weather; ensure there is plenty of space around plants for good air circulation, choose resistant varieties and avoid wetting the leaves when watering.

Read more about powdery mildew


Bolting is when plants flower and set seed prematurely. Choose bolt-resistant varieties, keep the soil moist and make sure you sow at the correct time so plants aren’t growing during the long days of June when they naturally flower.

Slugs and snails

Slugs and snails like to nibble to plants to remove any you find and consider using biological control for slugs or organic slug pellets.

Read more about protecting plants from slugs and snails