My wife and I garden. During the last two Winters, we have “Wintered over” our spinach. This year, we kicked it up a notch. We planted new spinach (and radish) seeds in November and have covered the plants with a clear plastic “tent.” When we have had warmer days, in the upper 50s and the 60s, we have taken off the cover. We’ve also watered as needed during this dry fall. So far, the growth is slow, but steady. The young plants look healthy.
We also still have some spinach that we planted in August. It is healthy and has been growing slowly in the cooler weather. Two days ago, Friday, 12/7/2012, we picked about 40 – 50 individual leaves! (We did the same thing about 3 – 4 weeks ago.) The leaves are dark green, very wrinkled from the cold weather, stiff and crisp – and very healthy. The spinach continues to have a very nice mild flavor, not bitter like some greens get as the plants get older.
On Friday evening we had a wonderful spinach salad. My wife makes a warm dressing with oriental rice wine vinegar, olive oil, bacon grease, sugar and seasoning. We add nuts, Parmesan cheese, hard boiled egg, bacon and croutons. Not a diet salad! Although you could say that we like a little spinach with our salad, the spinach really makes the salad special. You can’t buy Fall/Winter spinach in a store.
To help the spinach survive in the garden, we put loose tree leaves around the plants. We make sure the spinach leaves are exposed to the sun, but the base of the plants are protected from the cold. I have seen our spinach with frost on the leaves, but it looked great later the same day in the sun. The spinach is almost dormant, but it grows slowly and stays very healthy. Our lowest temperatures so far this year have been in the 20s, so we haven’t had really cold weather. In the past, when very cold is predicted, we completely cover the spinach with tree leaves. But, we uncover it as soon as the weather gets in the 30s.
If you are a gardener and like spinach, I encourage you to plant some spinach in August. Water it as needed. Then don’t cut off all the leaves – leave enough for the plants to survive. Then give the plants a little protection in the Fall and Winter and see if you can help them to survive. In the past, we have had some survive until Spring, and have enjoyed really wonderful early spinach in February and March – before anyone else.