How to plant the spinach family

Planting silverbeet, rainbow chard and perpetual spinach
  • Members of the spinach family do best when planted out while the soil is still warm, but they taste best when grown in cooler temperatures.
  • Rob plants old-fashioned Ford Hook Giant Silverbeet (white stem), Rainbow Chard (silverbeet with coloured stems) and Perpetual Spinach (really a silverbeet, but not as big in growth habit so suits small gardens, has less oxalic acid – metal taste – and can be eaten raw).
  • Rob has decided not to plant traditional English spinach in this bed because it has a short crop of 6-8 weeks, and this bed, fed and watered well, will last up to 2 years.
  • Rob is planting in the old tomato beds so the soil is already slightly acidic, which the spinach family prefer. They like a pH of around 6.
  • The soil in this tomato bed still has enough organic matter, but if you were planting into a depleted bed, you would work in lots of compost at this stage.
  • Fork the soil through to aerate it.
  • Pop your plants in about 30 cms apart. With plenty of room between plants, air can circulate and it prevents the fungal disease rust, prevalent in humid climates, from invading.
  • We now add chicken poo (can be substituted with sheep pellets, horse or cow manure) carefully and generously around the plants. It’s more effective laying the fertiliser on the top so that watering or the rains cause it to seep down in a controlled way through the roots of the plants. If you mix it into the soil before planting, the fertiliser will travel lower than the roots of the plants and not be as effective.
  • Take care with animal manure that it doesn’t touch the young plants as it could burn them.
  • Next we add a generous sprinkling of Natures Organic Fertiliser – rockdust with seaweed – round each plant.
  • It’s a well-known fact that we get lots of minerals and vitamins from eating the spinach family, but the plants will only be nutrient-dense if we feed them nutrients via their soil.
  • If you don’t have access to this rockdust product, take a trip to the beach and pick up seaweed and lay that around your plants.
  • Water it all in well.
  • As this is a long-term bed, it’ll need feeding again with an animal manure and rockdust in spring.
  • The problems you get with the spinach family are birds, slugs and snails and rust. Installing hoops and nets over your plants will protect them from the birds. See here for how to make hoops for netting. See here for how to make slug and snail traps. And if you do get rust, simply remove the affected leaves and plant in a new bed next time. Giving your plants a dose of liquid seaweed once a month means they’ll be in high health, and very unlikely to succumb to rust.


Camera: Jarod Murray
Editor: Thomas Asche
Production equipment and post-production services provided by The Black Forest Breathes