How to harvest spinach – for the tastiest results

Find out how to harvest spinach and be rewarded with a nutritious and plentiful crop

spinach in a raised bed
(Image credit: Sigmund/Unsplash)

Packed with nutrients and antioxidants, learning how to harvest spinach is essential for reaping the goodness and prolonging your crop. Useful for growing as a baby salad leaf or as larger mature leaves, spinach needs little attention once established and if planned carefully, it is possible to grow different varieties for a year-round supply.

Choose from summer and winter cultivars and grow spinach in soil that’s part shady and rich in organic matter. Water well, protect from birds (who like to nibble and uproot the plants) and this tasty leaf should be ready to harvest in a matter of weeks. 

As well as sowing in pots and borders, it is possible to grow spinach in trays, as Heather Leedham, Director, Chiltern Seeds explains: 'We are currently growing trays of spinach as baby leaves at the office, the team are regularly picking to add to lunchtime salads. A snip and quick wash before going straight onto plates, you can't get fresher than that!'

Our expert guide is full of handy tips, so you know how to harvest spinach with ease.

How to harvest spinach

To harvest spinach, simply pick or snip leaves off just above the base of the plant. 

‘The trick to growing spinach is to grow it fast and harvest it quickly,’ says Emilie Caron at West Coast Seeds. ‘Pick the right varieties in the right season, too. Some varieties do better in long days and hot conditions, but generally, spinach does best in cool weather. Plan for succession planting for continuous harvest if recommended for your region.’

‘To encourage further growth, harvest the outer leaves allowing the centers to grow on and to encourage the plants to keep producing,’ says Heather Leedham. 

Paul Betz of High Mowing Seeds also adds, ‘Harvest when the lower leaves are of a good size. One can pinch off the largest, lower leaves and let the plant continue to grow, which will extend the harvest. When the leaves start to get pointed, the plant is beginning to bolt. At this point harvest the whole plant and plant something else in the newly created space.’ 

How do you know when spinach is ready to pick?

You know spinach is ready to pick when the outer leaves are around 6in in length. 

When to harvest spinach?

It takes between six to eight weeks for spinach to be ready for harvesting, with summer varieties being harvested May to October and winter cultivars October through April. 

Will spinach grow back after harvesting?

If you pick the larger outer leaves, the plant will keep growing from the center. Eventually the foliage will change from having rounded to pointed tips. This is a sign that the plant is ageing, losing its flavor and needs replacing. 

Jill Morgan
Contributing Editor

Jill Morgan has spent the last 20 years writing for Interior and Gardening magazines both in print and online. Titles she has been lucky enough to work on include House Beautiful, The English

Home, Ideal Home, Modern Gardens and Although much of her career has involved commissioning and writing about reader homes and home improvement projects, her

everlasting passion is for gardens and outdoor living, which is what she writes about for Homes & Gardens.