Rob grows spinach, Megan cooks with eggplants

  • Perpetual spinach is one of our favourites in the winter garden. We prefer it to silverbeet because the young leaves can be eaten raw and it doesn’t have the oxalic acid that makes silverbeet taste strong.
  • Perpetual spinach is easy to grow as long as you get your soil right. Start by building up your bed with rich organic matter in the form of a well-rotted compost. Then add a fertiliser with nitrogen (N) and phosphorus (P). We recommend blood and bone, sheep pellets or chicken manure. If you use a fertiliser with potassium (K) it will only encourage the plants to go to seed.
  • Members of the chard family are sensitive to acidic soils, so a good sprinkling of lime before planting is recommended. Lime also adds the ever-important calcium to a garden bed. And finally a few handfuls of rock dust ensure the plants will be nutrient-dense. Work the fertilisers into the soil with a rake.
  • It’s important your garden bed gets plenty of light. If you grow spinach in shady areas, they’ll stretch towards the light and become spindly.
  • Plant the seedlings around 40 cms apart so they don’t compete for nutrients. By giving plants plenty of air movement, it prevents rust and other fungal diseases from forming.
  • Another way of preventing rust is by practising crop rotation. If you have a small garden and can’t do this, we suggest you put a layer of newspaper down around your spinach plants and cover it with mulch. The rust spores live in the soil and bounce up to the plant when the rains come, so this method will reduce that likelihood.
  • If you succumb to rust, simply remove the affected leaves, feed the plants up and they should pull away again. It’s best not to put the rust leaves in a cold compost because the spores will end up in the garden again. A hot compost will kill them.
  • We also recommend you plant flowers in between your spinach plants. The populations of beneficial insects we’ve built up over summer, need food over winter. We plant dianthus, which does well in winter.
  • Water everything in, cover with hoops and nets and we’ll be eating out of this bed in around 6 weeks.
Megan makes Grilled Eggplant with Walnut Dukkah


Camera: Davian Lorson
Editor: Thomas Asche