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How to Grow Spinach in Winter

Winter Gardening with Spinach

There are a few varieties of winter spinach including Bloomsdale Long Standing Spinach, Giant Winter Spinach and Tyee Winter Spinach. These types of spinach withstand cold temperatures better than other spinach varieties. They produce tough, crinkly leaves which are hearty in flavor. The darker leaves and more concentrated flavor are caused by the plants converting starches into sugar during freezing temperatures. The spinach converts the starches into sugar to survive during the cold months.

Winter Spinach: A Guide to Planting

Winter spinach should be planted in fertile, near neutral soil and enriched with manure, compost(goes to compost article) or organic fertilizer. Jumpstart winter spinach production by spraying the greens with diluted fish emulsion. Growing and harvesting will depend on your planting zone. In northern planting zones winter spinach can be planted in August and harvested in October. In southern planting zones, these winter greens can be planted in late September and harvested in February or March. Due to the diminished sunlight in winter, these types of spinach grow slower than when planted in early spring; however, planting spinach in winter will yield a sweeter, richer flavor.

Spinach Seed Sowing

Sow spinach seeds about an inch apart. Crowded spinach tends to stay wet for extended periods, making these winter greens susceptible to downy mildew and other diseases. Once the seedlings have sprouted and produced three sets of leaves thin the greens to about 6 inches. Well-thinned spinach enables better air circulation and leaf drying.Be sure to plant spinach seeds early enough in the season so they reach maturity prior to the first frost.

Best Soil Conditions for Growing Spinach

It is important to keep the soil moist, but to avoid garden overwatering(going to Garden Watering Tips article). For optimal results consider covering your winter spinach with floating row covers. These garden covers help insulate and protect against extreme weather elements and garden pests.

Cooking Spinach No Matter the Time of Year

Due to the deep veins and crinkly structure of winter spinach leaves dirt is easily trapped. Prior to eating or cooking winter spinach be sure to thoroughly rinse the leaves. A great method to ensure dirt or sand particles are removed is to submerge the leaves in a container or bucket of water and move them about to loosen dirt. The particles will fall to the bottom while the spinach stays afloat. Once the winter spinach is completely rid of dirt and sand, use them in hearty winter stews, salads, spinach dips or make a batch of baked spinach chips. Any of the winter greens you don’t use right away should be stored in an air-tight container in the refrigerator for up to a week.

Yes Freezing Harvested Spinach is an Option!

You can freeze spinach to use in various dishes throughout the year. Freezing spinach can be done in one of three ways: blanching, steaming or freezing spinach raw. On average, frozen spinach will last about 12 months assuming it is void of light and oxygen. Please remember to wash spinach thoroughly prior to freezing. Read below for instructions on how to properly freeze spinach.

How to Freeze Raw Spinach

  • Cut away stems and any bad spots on the spinach
  • Spin off excess water with a salad spinner
  • Use paper towels to absorb as much remaining water as possible
  • Place spinach into freezer bags and write the date with a  permanent marker
  • Press excess air out of the freezer bag as you seal. As you are sealing the last bit of the freezer bag insert a straw and suck out any remaining air.
  • When you have sucked out all the air, pinch the straw shut, remove quickly and seal immediately.
  • When you are ready to use the frozen raw spinach do NOT thaw it. Instead place the frozen raw spinach directly into a soup, stew or sauté it in a pan

How to Freeze Spinach by Boiling

  • Cut away stems and any bad spots on the spinach
  • Place spinach in boiling water (uncovered) for no more than 2 minutes
  • Drain spinach into a colander
  • Place spinach in a bowl filled with cold water and ice to prevent overcooking
  • Let spinach cool for about 2 minutes, making sure water stays ice cold (you may have to keep adding ice cubes and cold water)
  • Drain spinach in colander or Spin off excess water with a salad spinner
  • Use paper towels to absorb any remaining water
  • Place spinach into a freezer bag and write the date with a permanent marker
  • Press excess air out of the freezer bag as you seal. As you are sealing the last bit of the freezer bag insert a straw and suck out any remaining air.
  • When you have sucked out all the air, pinch the straw shut, remove quickly and seal immediately.
  • When you are ready to use the frozen raw spinach do NOT thaw it. Instead place the frozen raw spinach directly into a soup, stew or sauté it in a pan

How to Freeze Spinach by Steaming

  • Cut away stems and any bad spots on the spinach
  • Fill a pot with hot water and place the steamer basket  in the pot (water should just reach the bottom of the steamer basket)
  • Bring water to a boil
  • Place spinach in steamer basket
  • Steam for approximately 2 minutes
  • Immediately plunge steamed spinach  into a bowl of cold water and ice cubes to prevent overcooking
  • Let spinach cool for about 2 minutes, making sure the water stays ice cold (you may have to keep adding ice cubes and cold water)
  • Drain spinach into a colander or use salad spinner to get rid of excess water
  • Use paper towels to absorb remaining water/moisture
  • Place spinach into a freezer bag and write the date with a permanent marker
  • Press excess air out of the freezer bag as you seal. As you are sealing the last bit of the freezer bag insert a straw and suck out any remaining air.
  • When you have sucked out all the air, pinch the straw shut, remove quickly and seal immediately.
  • When you are ready to use the frozen raw spinach do NOT thaw it. Instead place the frozen raw spinach directly into a soup, stew or sauté it in a pan

Your Winter Spinach Guide

Spinach is extremely nutrient rich, rendering it one of the very best super foods. Spinach can be added to virtually any dish for an extra boost of powerful nutrients. Grow your own winter spinach for the freshest, nutrient rich vegetable all winter long to use fresh or frozen.


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