Over wintering spinach is a great way to have an extra early and very productive spring crop. If planted at the right time and given some protection you will also have leaves to harvest in the fall and all winter long.
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This was my harvest on February 10th this year. No I don’t live is southern California or some zone 9 mecca. We live in a cold Zone 6 almost zone 5 garden. Although we don’t have winters as cold as some, we do have tons of snow and very cold temps all winter long.
Spinach is a very hardy winter green. Even those of you that live in Zones 3 and 4 can have a successful winter crop by over wintering spinach.
Planing Time for Over Wintering Spinach
To be successful at over wintering spinach you need to get started in early fall or late summer.
The first key for over wintering spinach is to get your seeds planted 6 to 8 weeks before your average first frost in the fall. For us that planting date is August 1st. Your date will be different base on that average first frost date. The newly planted seeds will need some extra care if your weather that time if year is hot. Be sure to water often (probably daily till the seeds are up and strong) and also offer extra protection from pests by covering your bed with a light weight fabric row cover.
Adding Protection from the Cold
The second key to over wintering spinach is to have some type of protection from the cold of winter. I recommend a cold frame if you live in zones 6 or colder. Those of you in zones 7 and warmer should be able to get away with just a hoop house. Either way you will need to think about getting that protection out around the time your first frost arrives in the fall.
If you live in zones 6 or below I would also recommend adding a second layer of protection inside your cold frame. You do this by adding a piece of heavy fabric row cover to your cold frame once your night time temperatures drop to between 20 to 25 degrees. You will just leave that row cover in place until the temps warm back up and the longer days (more than 10 1\2 hours) arrive in the spring.
Harvest time Starts in Late Fall
One of the benefits of over wintering spinach is that your harvest begins in the fall and continues all winter and into the spring! You should have a decent harvest starting about 75 days after planting. That harvest will slow during the winter, but you should be able to harvest a salads worth of leaves every couple of weeks.
Once spring arrives the growth of the plants will really take off and you should have a fantastic harvest starting in early spring and lasting until your spinach plants finally bolt and go to seed in mid to late spring. Not only will you have an extra early harvest but that harvest will also be very heavy because the plants are so mature early in the spring.
We have found that over wintering spinach is the most productive method for growing spinach. The continual harvest of leaves for over a 6-8 month time frame is a great addition of fresh veggies to our winter and spring diet.
Remember that the keys to a great crop is planting 60 days before your first fall frost and having a cold frame or hoop house to protect the crop during the cold winter months.
Get this idea on your schedule for this fall and you will be over wintering spinach for a great spring harvest.