How To Harvest Spinach Without Killing The Plant: Exact Steps!

Thinking about how to harvest spinach without killing the plant? You are at the right place because even Popeye needed to learn EVERYTHING about planting and harvesting spinach! 

If you know how to harvest spinach without killing the plant and treat your spinach just right, it grows back again every few days.

Think about it, unlimited spinach harvest forever (well, almost)! Harvest it as a microgreen leaf, baby leaf, or mature leaf to add it to your recipe – it tastes heavenly at any stage. 

In this article, learn about my secret tips for harvesting spinach while avoiding the mistakes that I made! I will also share how to store the spinach you have harvested to keep it fresh.


  • How To Harvest Spinach
  • Common Mistakes When Harvesting Spinach
  • Spinach Overview
  • Best Time To Plant Spinach 
  • Harvesting Tips For Malabar Spinach 
  • When To Harvest Spinach
  • How To Store Fresh Spinach
  • How To Dry Fresh Spinach 
  • How To Freeze Fresh Spinach 
  • How To Preserve Fresh Spinach
how to harvest spinach without killing the plant

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How To Harvest Spinach Without Killing The Plant

The nice thing about growing and harvesting spinach is that you can harvest it at any stage – microgreen, baby leaf, or mature leaf without compromising on their taste! 

When your plant has multiple leaves and is about 4 to 6 inches tall, they are ready for harvesting. If you are thinking about how many times can you harvest spinach, the answer is dependent on the method you use to harvest spinach.

So how do you harvest spinach from your garden? Let’s dive into it! 

1. By The Leaf

The best and easiest way I have found how to harvest spinach without killing the plant is by harvesting the leaves. This method helps me keep my plant alive for a longer period while adding delicious leaves to my morning smoothie. You’ll enjoy this method if you tend to cook small dishes too!

To start, get a handy pair of gardening scissors (I love these! They are perfect for most plant harvests) and a basket for your spinach leaves.

The rule of thumb is to only remove ¼ of the leaves from the spinach plant, starting from the outer, older leaves. If I’m feeling brave, I sometimes harvest up to ⅓ of the plant.

how to harvest spinach without killing the plant

Secret tip: Leave a ½ inch of the stem intact so that the leaf can regrow! 

2. By The Bunch

How to harvest spinach crop in bunches is also known as clear-cutting or harvesting in bulk. Use this method if you need more spinach for a big feast or storage in bulk.

Position a sharp serrated knife ½ inch above the crown of the plant. You can’t miss it, because it is above the soil where all stems meet. Gather the leaves of the plant in one hand and use the other holding the knife to cut through the crown. This way, you can gather another harvest in another 10 to 14 days!

how to harvest spinach without killing the plant

3. By The Plant

I only harvest spinach as a plant when I want to use the garden bed for a new, different crop of plants. By this time I would have harvested spinach leaves approximately 3 to 4 times, and the plant is looking a little under the weather. Otherwise, I harvest the plant when it starts to flower. 

Using your gardening scissors, cut the plant below the crown or just pull it up by hand. The roots should come up easily. Think of it as a game of tug-of-war (where you’ll win). 

How To Harvest Spinach Seeds

As with humans, only female spinach plants contain spinach seeds. The key to how to harvest spinach seeds lie in identifying round green balls under the leaves (male spinach plants have yellow balls instead).

Once you have the female spinach plants, harvest their leaves and leave the plant to dry out for about 4 to 6 weeks

When the plants are completely dry, put on gloves and gently loosen seeds from the plant stem. Use your thumb to remove the seeds and catch them in a paper bag. Seal the bag and they are good to keep for up to 3 years! I still have a batch of spinach seeds from 1 ½ years ago! 

Common Mistakes When Harvesting Spinach

There are several mistakes to avoid when harvesting spinach because one wrong move might just damage the plant completely. I messed up on my first spinach crop and have learned to avoid these mistakes! There are the things to avoid in how do you harvest spinach so that it grows back: 

  • Harvesting too many leaves: For continuous harvests, never harvest more than ⅓ of the leaves of your spinach plant
  • Harvesting only the center leaves: Spinach grows from the center, and therefore you should only harvest the outer leaves. Leave the center leaves intact, no matter how delicious-looking baby spinach may be!
  • Harvesting the plant too low: The crown of the spinach (the area where the stems meet just above the soil) connects to the root system. If you cut the plant too low, the damage will cause the plant to be unable to regrow. Stay 2 inches above the ground!
  • Harvesting in hot weather: As spinach is a plant that prefers cold weather, the heat makes any freshly harvested leaves wilt in a short time. 
how to harvest spinach without killing the plant

Spinach Overview

Spinach (Spinacia oleracea) is a plant meant for cool weather, and so it is popular to grow during the early spring or late summer season. This is because it can tolerate cold weather well and is resistant to mildew in colder climates. If you tend your spinach well, it grows into gorgeous rosettes which also indicates that it is ready for harvest!

This dark, leafy green vegetable is full of vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants that make it the first choice in healthy smoothies or poke bowls. Since it can be eaten raw or cooked, this makes it a convenient choice for meals or side dishes. I know of at least 5 different cuisines that use spinach as a side dish. 

Always make sure that your spinach crop is completely harvested before the summer heat arrives because overgrown spinach will result in bolting. 

Spinach Bolting

If you see a funny stem protruding from the center of your spinach, it is at the bolting stage. Spinach bolting is caused by hot weather (around 75°F/23° C or more) or when your plant is ready for the flowering or seeding stage. When this happens, it affects the initial purpose of the plant for culinary uses. This is because the leaves lose their flavor and turn bitter. 

When you see spinach bolting, you can choose one of these two actions:

  • Prepare the plant for seeding: Firstly, harvest the leaves. Then, leave the plant to dry out and brown (takes up to 6 weeks) before removing the seeds from the stem carefully. Keep the seeds to plant them again in the next season!
  • Harvesting spinach after bolting: Harvest the whole spinach plant by cutting it with a sharp serrated knife below the crown, or pulling it up by hand

Best Time To Plant Spinach

Spinach is a versatile plant that can be planted for most of the year. Avoid hot seasons and high summers and you are good to go. I like planting mine during the early spring season, to prepare for enticing spinach salads in high spring!

You can start planting spinach seeds (use those harvested from a previous season!) as soon as the soil is less frozen and the soil can be shifted. Alternatively, plant it in the fall and cover it with mulch to protect it from winter, and uncover it when the frost is gone. This way, you can enjoy it during early spring. 

Spinach seeds take about 6 weeks to sprout under temperatures below 70°F (23° C). Avoid planting it in summer because hot soil will prevent the seed from sprouting (I learned this the hard way). 

When To Harvest Spinach

Spinach seeds grow into tall, leafy plants 6 weeks after it is planted. At this time, they will produce tall, leafy stalks up to 6 inches high. You can plan your harvest based on needs (high spring rolls, early summer salads, late fall smoothies) or just plant away and enjoy its deliciousness when it’s ready! 

To enjoy early spring spinach salads, plant spinach seeds no later than September. The plant can sprout and go into dormancy (cover it with mulch for protection) during the cold winter season. When the frost recedes, remove the protection and allow it to continue growing. Of course, if you live in a warmer climate with no frosty winters, you can plant spinach all year long! 

how to harvest spinach without killing the plant

How To Store Fresh Spinach 

If you have tried storing fresh spinach (or any leafy vegetables, for that matter) in the refrigerator, you will know that it wilts and melts in the bag quickly. As long as the storage container is damp, this mess will happen! Here are my top tips for avoiding such a situation:

  • Remove unwanted leaves: After harvesting spinach, make sure to discard leaves that are bitten by bugs, slightly yellowed, or wilting. 
  • Thorough cleaning: Fill a big basin with water and wash the spinach, making sure that the dirt or insects on the leaves are washed away. 
  • Spin dry: Use a salad spinner or a clean kitchen towel to remove all excess water. You will want the spinach to be as dry as possible so that there will not be excess moisture when you store them. 
how to harvest spinach without killing the plant
  • Pad the bag: Place a clean kitchen towel or napkin at the base of the bag or container you plan to use, and then gently pack the spinach on top. 

Secret tip: to try to be as environmentally friendly as possible, I sometimes use a clean cloth or old tee shirt to wrap my spinach when I store them. Try it out! 

This method can keep your spinach fresh for up to one week

How To Dry Fresh Spinach

There are a few key ways to dry fresh spinach, and I will share my favorite one too! One is by using a food dehydrator, an oven, or by hang drying. The key aim is to remove all the moisture from the spinach and therefore it will keep for a longer period. 

Using a food dehydrator: Wash and clean the spinach leaves thoroughly. Dry it using a salad spinner or kitchen towel, and place the spinach leaves on the dehydrator trays. Avoid having large bunches of spinach leaves. Dehydrate at 125ºF (52ºC) until it is completely dry, approximately 4 to 6 hours

Using an oven: After cleaning and wiping the spinach leaves, chop them up into pieces before placing them on oven trays. If you prefer your leaves as it is, that would be fine too – I just prefer munching the smaller pieces. Put the spinach in the oven at 170ºF for about 6 hours. Turn it down to 130ºF for the last hour

Hang drying: Take your spinach leaves and tie the stalks together in a bunch. You can use a string or even rubber bands. Hang them upside-down in a well-ventilated room. Once you are sure that they are dry (they will look dry and crumbly), you can store them in a container or bag. 

This method can keep your spinach stored for at least 6 months

How To Freeze Fresh Spinach

Freezing is the best way to keep spinach packed full of nutrients while lasting a long time. This is best for large harvests of spinach, where I simply toss the napkin-wrapped spinach leaves into the freezer. 

However, if it is intended to last longer you will need to do some extra steps. Follow these steps for frozen blanched spinach: 

  • After washing your spinach, blanch it in boiling water (or steam it) for a couple of minutes
  • Immediately after, place the spinach into iced water to prevent it from overcooking. 
  • When it has cooled, use a salad spinner or kitchen napkin to dry the spinach. 
  • Place portioned spinach into separate freezer bags, making sure to remove all excess air. 

This method will store spinach for up to 1 year

how to harvest spinach without killing the plant

How To Preserve Fresh Spinach 

Preserving fresh spinach in the refrigerator requires the temperature to be adjusted between 39 to 50ºF. This helps your spinach maintain its nutrients without losing them. 

To preserve spinach, simply follow the same steps for frozen blanched spinach. Instead of portioning spinach, shape it into a tight round ball. Place it in an airtight container and ensure that there is no excess water. Just cut out the desired portion that you wish to consume every time you’re cooking spinach! 

Preserved spinach can be placed in the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks.  

FAQs on How To Harvest Spinach Without Killing The Plant

Will Spinach Grow Back After Cutting?

Will spinach grow back after cutting? Yes! Spinach can regrow for at least two more harvests if the weather is cool and its growing point is not damaged in previous harvests. Use correct methods of harvesting your spinach which will keep your spinach plants growing for more harvests! 

If you don’t know how to harvest spinach without killing the plant, just remember to use the correct tools (a sharp kitchen garden) and correct measurements (never harvest more than ⅓ of the plant). 

Can You Harvest Spinach After It Bolts? 

So, can you harvest spinach after it bolts? No, but wait for the temperature to drop and plant a new spinach crop. Bolting is the process of flowering that will provide you with spinach seeds for the next planting season. You can also choose to slow the bolting process by removing the flower buds as it increases the lifespan of spinach slightly. 

Can You Grow Spinach In Pots? 

Spinach works well growing in pots. Make sure that you use quality organic potting mix, and keep the soil well-drained. When planting seeds, sow them ½ inch deep in the pot. Space the seeds 3 inches apart, and they should grow within 14 days

Can You Grow Spinach From The Leaves And Stems? 

No, spinach does not grow from cuttings, as the leaves and stems will not form new roots. This is different from other green plants that can grow from leaves and stems. Instead, plant fresh spinach seeds when cooler weather arrives. 

How To Differentiate Between Spinach And Baby Spinach?

Wondering how to differentiate between spinach and baby spinach? Baby spinach leaves are smaller because they only grow up to two inches. On the other hand, mature spinach has large leaves that are darker and thicker. Taste-wise, baby spinach has a sweeter and juicier taste compared to mature spinach, which is more bitter and earthy. 

Why Are My Spinach Leaves Pointed? 

Asking yourself why are my spinach leaves pointed? This is because of the production of sesquiterpene lactone compounds, which are produced by stress or its internal clock. It is usually seen when the spinach plant enters its flowering stage, which makes the leaves pointed and bitter. 

Spinach Goodness 

So, I hope that you now know how to harvest spinach without killing the plant. The tip is to plant spinach at the right time, harvest the leaves while avoiding common mistakes, and store it the correct way. 

Spinach is packed chock full of nutrition and health benefits. It is one of the to-go foods for any health-lover! Keep an eye on these amazing plants, and I bet you will have spinach any time of the year. 

If you have any other tips, feel free to share them in the comments section!

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