Once notorious for being Popeye’s favourite meal, spinach has become ever present in dishes in restaurants and in our fridges at home, and for good reason. Rich in vitamin A, iron and calcium, spinach is a versatile vegetable that works well in many dishes.
Spinach is available year-round, but it’s at its best and most easily available in the spring. Our spinach supplier, PDM Produce started preparing for spinach season back in February when they planted their first batch. In spring, spinach takes between 60-70 days to grow, whereas in the summer it can take as little as 25 days.
From seeds to harvest
PDM Produce look after our spinach from seeds to harvest. The first step is the planting of the spinach, which is referred to as drilling because the machine creates beds using rollers (seen at the front of the machine) and then drills holes to drop the spinach into.
During the UK Spinach Season, PDM Produce will grow and pack around 550,000kgs of Spinach for the Co-op.
After the field has been drilled and the spinach planted, the ground is covered with white fleece to keep the spinach warm and protect it from bad weather. The fleece is removed after the first true leaf grows and is replaced with nets to protect the leaves against rain and hail.
Harvesters are used for the cutting of the spinach and depending on the size of the field harvesting can take anywhere between one to four weeks. The hoses at the front of the harvester suck the flies and insects off the spinach leaves before they are cut. There are also shaker belts on the machine to get rid of all the stones and any other foreign objects caught in the spinach leaves.
Not all farming processes involve modern technology, good old fashion scarecrows are used in the fields to keep the birds away.
From field to shop
All the spinach grown is within 20 miles of the PDM Produce’s highcare facility, which means that spinach can be harvested in the morning, taken by tractor to the factory for quality control, and packed in the evening. The packaged spinach then leaves the warehouse and arrives at the Co-op depot the next morning, ready to be distributed to stores.
Find out more about our support for British farmers and producers here