by Sharon Asakawa

Popeye the sailor man "keeps strong to the finich, 'cause he eats his spinach" and even though his nephews do not care for this leafy green, they eat it to become big and strong just like their uncle.

Photo by Louis Hansel on Unsplash

Although recent research has corrected the belief that spinach is exceptionally rich in iron, helping to give Popeye such incredible strength, it does provide about 5% of our daily-recommended intake.

It is also a good source of vitamins A (56% of your recommended daily intake), B6, K as well as calcium and fiber.

Whatever the disputes about spinach and iron, it has been cultivated for over 2,000 years and Arab traders called it “the prince of vegetables.” Early settlers brought the vegetable with them to the Americas and by 1806 became a popular item in American seed catalogs.

Grown for its leaves, spinach falls into three categories: Savoy – is characterized by its dark green, crinkly foliage; Flat or Smooth-Leaf has wider, smoother leaves that are easy to clean and used in canning; and semi-Savoy, is a hybrid that has characteristics of both the Savoy and the Flat-Leaf with crinkly leaves that are easy to clean.

Spinach is a cool-season crop, although some cultivars have more tolerance to heat and are identified as “slow to bolt (flower), or long-standing.” Where winters are cold, grow as a spring crop and in warm regions, grow as a winter crop. New Zealand spinach is not a true spinach, however, it’s an excellent substitute and will grow straight through the heat of summer! It does not tolerate a frost, but real spinach can and will handle cold temperatures and frost. If you share Popeye’s love of spinach, grow your own in your cool-season vegetable garden and stay healthy and strong “to the finich!”