ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel

How to Harvest Spinach Seeds

Updated on June 19, 2013
Male spinach plants do not produce seeds.
Male spinach plants do not produce seeds. | Source

I have grown spinach every year in my vegetable garden since I started gardening. And as much as I promote sustainable practices in the organic garden, I have to admit I've never saved spinach seed. This year I am saving as much seed as possible. As my gardens have grown larger and larger every year, I find myself spending more and more money on vegetable seeds. That seriously cuts into my garden economics.

My spinach is bolting now, and so it is time to learn how to harvest the seeds. It isn't as straightforward as I thought. Spinach produces male and female plants. Only the females have seeds. The males can be tossed into the compost pile as soon as there are no more leaves to harvest. As I was reading through some of the articles online, which make it sound very easy to distinguish between the male and females, I felt rather confident. Then I went outside to take a look at my plants and discovered it isn't so easy.

They all looked the same to me. It takes a close inspection, and they are pretty hard to tell apart in the early stages of bolting. Before you remove any plants you think are males, give them some time to do their thing, that way you can be sure.

It turned out that I only had male spinach plants growing in the garden. A quick look at the original seed packet revealed why. I had planted a hybrid, which are bred to grow sterile plants. In this case, the seeds only produced male plants. If you want to harvest seed, select an heirloom or open pollinated variety to grow. They produce both male and female plants.

Instructions

  1. Identify the male and female plants. The males will have tiny, yellow balls growing underneath the leaves of the stalk. The females have only little green balls under the leaves.
  2. Allow the spinach plants to dry out in the soil.
  3. Remove the plants from the garden. Discard the males. Hang the females upside down in a cool, dry location to dry them completely.
  4. With gloves on, run your fingers along the plants to loosen the seeds. Catch them in a paper bag or other type of container. Blow away the chaff. Save the seeds in cool, dry storage until ready to plant.

Tips

  • Grow only one variety of spinach if you plan to save seeds. Different varieties may cross-pollinate in the garden.
  • Compost the male plants and the dried female plants after harvesting seeds.
  • One female spinach plant can produce hundreds of seeds - enough for several seasons in your home vegetable garden.

Comments

    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    • profile image

      Tink74 2 years ago

      You mentioned having all male plants. I let my spinach bolt, harvested the seeds and I remember maybe 1 female plant...maybe. Can I still use the seeds or will they not grow?

    • Julie McM profile image
      Author

      Julie McM 7 years ago from Southern California

      Thanks Dirt Farmer. Glad you found it useful.

      Thank you, infotek. Starting small is a good idea. If you use companion planting, you can get a lot more food in a smaller area. You should check it out.

    • infotek profile image

      infotek 7 years ago from London

      I haven't grown vegetables for over 30 years now and this year decided to give it a try on a small scale and see how successful I am (or not!!) before increasing the amount I grow next year.

      I have found your hub extremely useful because I have done a lot of research but this is the first time I have come across this and I am growing Spinach.

      Very useful thank you Julie.

    • The Dirt Farmer profile image

      Jill Spencer 7 years ago from United States

      Never tried this. What a good idea! Thanks for the useful hub.

    working

    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, hubpages.com uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

    For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at: "https://hubpages.com/privacy-policy#gdpr"

    Show Details
    Necessary
    HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
    LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
    Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
    AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
    Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
    CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the googleapis.com or gstatic.com domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    Features
    Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
    Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
    Marketing
    Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
    Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
    Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
    Statistics
    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)