Spinach Germination Problems
I live in the Houston area, and have had great difficulty in starting spinach seeds this fall. I've replanted fresh seeds a half dozen times as the weather has gotten cooler, but only a few have even germinated. I know spinach can be difficult to germinate when the weather is warm, and I've tried soaking the seeds in water before planting and also tried freezing the seeds in ice cubes, but neither technique has helped. Secondly, the seeds that have germinated this fall have grown very slowly, and then suddenly wilt and die. There is no apparent insect damage and the roots appear intact. I've had germination problems before, and I think that may be related to the warm weather we've been experiencing. But I'm concerned that there may be a second disease-related problem affecting the plants once they sprout. I applied a general purpose fungicide to the plants, but that didn't help. Do you have any suggestions? I've had good success with spinach in the past - apart from the weather the only difference is that I started adding a good bit of well composted oak leaf and grass material to the garden beds two years ago, working it into the soil in the spring. However, spinach seeds I've planted in garden potting soil have had the same germination and slow growth/wilting problems. I've attached a picture - the spinach plant on the right was planted about 2 months ago. The plants are growing in a raised bed garden box with good drainage and moderate sun.
Thank you for your inquiry.
As you have mentioned, spinach can be problematic in warm weather. There can also be issues with with root rots - but you mentioned that roots appears healthy (so we can safely rule that out).
Did all the seed that you had problems with come from the same batch or same source? Rule out potential seed batch problem.
The seeds came from several different packages, all packed with 2015 planting dates. The seeds were stored inside the house in a zip-lock plastic bag. The plants also appear poorly 'anchored' In the soil - does this perhaps indicate they were not planted deeply enough?
Appearance of "poor anchoring" - too high, can be a result of germination and excess elongation. This symptom may be related to the heat. However, I am assuming that you plant your seeds at least 1/2 inch deep.
Based on the information you provided, the phenomenon appears to be more of an environmental trigger issue than a seed batch or soil type. Another possible explanation to the elongated growth may be low light issues when actively growing.
Check out this Extension publication for more information on spinach growing.