Growing Spinach for
Winter Greens

I start growing spinach in early spring and hope it stays cool long enough to harvest before it begins to bolt.

One year I planted my spinach in the fall to grow in my winter hoop house. I had been reading of the cold hardy plants that I could grow and spinach was the number one vegetable that produced well in the long winters we have here.

It is hard to believe that spinach can hold up to freezing temperature but it really grows best in cooler temperatures.

It takes planning to time spinach to be ready before the snow flies. That first year I planted in late September and by the time winter set in the plants were still quite small. They grew very slowly until the middle of January.

By the end of February I was starting to harvest spinach. I harvested spinach through May and then pulled it so I could start my spring crops.

Growing spinach in the fall and winter is now the only time I plant it. During the winter when summer crops are scarce fresh spinach is plentiful.

Growing Spinach Varieties

For fall harvesting of spinach choose varieties that are quick to mature and resistant to cold weather. The following varieties fit the bill for winter harvests. They are quick to mature and do will in freezing temperatures. All three of these varieties can be found at

  • Tyee is savoyed-leaf spinach with dark green leaves and grows upright. Good for sowing in spring, summer and fall. Great for over wintering. Matures in 40 days.
  • Carmel is fast growing with dark green upright leaves. Uniform growth that matures in 35 days. Good for fall and winter harvest.
  • Racoon is a fast growing with round uniform leaves for fall harvest. Matures in 36 days.

Sowing and Harvesting Growing Spinach

Spinach grows well in a range of soils but prefers moist fertile soils with good organic matter. Seed germination is best in soils ranging from 60 to 75 degrees F.

You can sow early in the spring as soon as your soil can be worked. For fall harvests sow seed directly into the soil in late July through September. For winter and early spring harvest you can continue to sow until the snow falls.

Starting in August I sow spinach into my hoop house area. Sow seeds ½ inch deep about 40 seeds in a 2 to 4 inch band.

In 3 to 5 weeks clip baby leaves for harvesting and thinning. Eat the baby leaves as you thin out the harvest. Spinach can be left to reach full growth with plants spaced 10 plants per foot.

Before winter cover rows with row covers. Mulch the spinach plants with straw under the covers to protect from extreme cold.

In a large hoop house cover the individual rows with row cover fabric before winter. To keep a continual harvest leave 4 to 5 inside leaves on each plant. I have been able to get up to 5 harvests this way.

To have an early spring harvest sow spinach seeds 5 weeks before winter. Cover young spinach plants with straw mulch and cover with a row cover. Before the heavy snows come add a plastic cover over the row cover. This gives a double insulation.

Remove the cover on the growing spinach in the spring when the weather warms.

Spinach can also be grown in grow boxes. Sow in the fall. Cover plants with straw before the hard frosts. You’ll need to vent the grow boxes on sunny days. To harvest lift lids and straw and cut spinach leaves from the sides of the plants.

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