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Comparing Overwintering Spinach

February 22nd, 2011

Last fall I planted two different types of spinach in one of my low tunnels. It was covered with greenhouse plastic, that’s it, no inner row cover. I was interested to see how the two varieties would survive the winter. As you can see, they both looked pretty good last fall when I covered the raised bed.

They two types I planted were:

‘Catalina’ Spinach – Tender, flat, deep green oval leaves with a delicate flavor perfect for salads. Fast growing, heat tolerant and extremely disease resistant. Seed source Renee’s Garden

‘Giant Winter’ Spinach – elected for cold hardiness. Dark green, glossy leaves are slightly savoyed. Appropriate as a flat baby leaf variety as well as winter full size. A heavy yielding variety recommended for fall crops, winter greenhouse production, or over-wintering outdoors under mulch. Seed source Sand Hill Preservation.

Since ‘Giant Winter’ is specifically bred to be a cold tolerant variety and ‘Catalina’ advertises heat tolerance, I figured the ‘Giant Winter’ would come out ahead. Last week, on that 60 degree day, I took the plastic off the hoop house and was surprised to see that the ‘Catalina’ looked much better than the ‘Giant Winter’.

This could be because the seeds germinated much more quickly and it had about a week’s worth of growth on the ‘Giant Winter’, but I’m thinking it’s just as cold tolerant as it is heat tolerant. Regardless, it’s fascinating to grow different varieties of the same vegetable to see which ones will do best in you soil and climate. I have a few more varieties of spinach to try this summer and fall, it will be interested to see how they stack up to ‘Catalina’.

Have you found specific varieties that do better than others in your climate?

16 Comments to “Comparing Overwintering Spinach”
  1. goatpod2 on February 22, 2011 at 9:53 am

    I’m not sure what kind of Spinach my Dad had planted in ’09. It came back last year I think.


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  2. Mike on February 22, 2011 at 9:58 am

    Darn it anyway, I just ordered the Giant variety with the hopes of overwintering it this year…I should have known better as smaller leaved crops always seem to do better for us in the cold. I guess I will go easy on it until I see the results. So far Bloomingsdale does good for us but I must admit to not having tried many other varieties. Olympia (hybrid) did good in our summer gardens. I will keep an eye out for Catalina. Thanks for the heads up on this.

    Reply to Mike's comment

    • Susy on February 22, 2011 at 4:34 pm

      Bloomsdale is a fabulous spinach, I’ve had great luck with it. I actually bought a winter hardy version of Bloomsdale from Southern Exposure along with a more winter hardy arugula. We’ll see how they do.

      Reply to Susy's comment

  3. melissa on February 22, 2011 at 12:16 pm

    I’m new to the winter issues since this is the first year we’ve had this much hard freeze at once. (it’s all gone now of course and temps are in the 70s). Unfortunately I think it has killed my cauliflower. The cabbage seems to have held on tightly and my broccoli as well–although it has yet to flower. Of the two lettuce varieties I have out, the Tom Thumb’s growth seems to have halted (and one has bolted already) but the rouge d’hiver seems to be doing okay.

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  4. Lynda on February 22, 2011 at 1:16 pm

    I usually plant two to three varieties of each veggie…that’s why I have too much of EVERYTHING! I garden year round and this year I haven’t had a break from planting, harvesting and preservation…I need a vacation!

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  5. Blake @ Salt, Teak & Fog on February 22, 2011 at 5:13 pm

    After trial-ing a couple spinach types, I too always, always make room for Renee’s ‘Catalina’ — it seems to weather everything better than the others, especially the California heat. ‘Giant’ varieties always seem to go crazy bolting too soon for us. Although the results can be interesting: I let some ‘Giant’ flower last year:

    Reply to Blake @ Salt, Teak & Fog's comment

  6. Eleanor on February 22, 2011 at 6:35 pm

    That’s a great idea, to try two different cold-tolerant varieties to compare. I never got around to covering my beds last fall, so I missed my chance. I’ll definitely give it a try this fall. What I’d give for fresh spinach right now! A few farmers are bringing it to the winter markets, but it disappears in the first ten minutes.

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  7. Roberta on February 22, 2011 at 11:29 pm

    So sad about the Giant Winter. This will be my first year growing spinach and I purchased Regiment from High Mowing. So far so good. We’ve only had one really cold spell here and it did well covered. I don’t know that it would have survived uncovered but it is beautiful and grows FAST!!!

    Reply to Roberta's comment

  8. Corrie on February 23, 2011 at 8:44 am

    I sowed some ‘Vital Green’ spinach this fall, and then life got crazy and I forgot about it. Went out to look at it yesterday and was surprised to see that even after months of cold and snow, it’s fine and happily growing without any protection at all.

    Reply to Corrie's comment

  9. Hannah on February 23, 2011 at 1:49 pm

    Hi! I’ve been poking around your blog, and it’s really cool! I just got into gardening last year, and I’m from NE Ohio too (Cleveland, to be exact) and I was wondering how to figure out when our last frost will be. Somewhere I read that it’s usually around May 18th– is that right? What’s your experience on this?

    Reply to Hannah's comment

  10. Lauren on February 23, 2011 at 5:05 pm

    Hi I just found your blog and I think it’s terrific!!

    Last year I planted this beautiful bordeaux spinach from here:

    I planted it VERY early and kept seeding all through summer and it is perfect to eat as baby spinach and it also stays tender when fully mature! I couldn’t wait to reorder the seeds again for this year:

    Reply to Lauren's comment

  11. The First Spring Salad | Chiot's Run on March 19, 2011 at 4:46 am

    […] Thursday, when I was working outside, I harvested the first of the spinach that I overwintered in my hoop houses. It’s coming to life quite nicely this spring. The leaves on the ‘Giant Winter’ that […]

    Reply to The First Spring Salad | Chiot’s Run's comment

  12. Amy Burchinal on March 29, 2011 at 6:43 pm

    How do you determine what size plastic to get to cover your raised beds? We just went out to get supplies to make the electrical conduit hoop houses today!!! I am very excited! This all came about because I planted my tomato seeds too early and they are already almost 7″ tall. Needless to say, I need to repot them in 4″ pots and I won’t have room for all of them under my lights!!! So I was thinking I could put one of the hoop houses on one of my raised beds and put them in there once I repot them. What do you think? Will it work?! I always plant too many tomato seeds and give most of the plants away mid-May, so I have more than 2 flats!! I hate to throw them out, or kill them off!!!

    Reply to Amy Burchinal's comment

  13. Giant is Right! | Chiot's Run on May 21, 2011 at 4:47 am

    […] been out cleaning out the raised bed that housed the spinach that I overwintered. The plants started to bolt with the heat that we’ve been having. It seem that overwintered […]

    Reply to Giant is Right! | Chiot’s Run's comment


This is a daily journal of my efforts to cultivate a more simple life, through local eating, gardening and so many other things. We used to live in a small suburban neighborhood Ohio but moved to 153 acres in Liberty, Maine in 2012.

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