Different types of spinach

25 Best Spinach Varieties | So Many Different Types of Spinach to Try

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As a child growing up, I remember my Mom trying to get me to try different types of spinach.

I am pretty certain it did not include the same spinach varieties that are discussed here, but it was not visually appealing as it came out of a can.

Fast forward to today and I have grown countless spinach varieties in my backyard garden.

Spinach is an essential vegetable that was first discovered in ancient Persia. The ancient Persia is currently known as Iran.

It first spread to India than to China through an ancient Chinese who named it ‘Persia vegetable’.

Later, it spread to Spain, England, France and the rest of the countries. During the first world war, spinach juice was used to cure hemorrhage soldiers in France.

Since then, spinach is popularly used all over the world.

Despite several varieties, spinach is essential vegetables with several health benefits.

They are a great source of vitamins, minerals, and dietary fiber. They contain a very low amount of calories and are therefore used as a remedy to weight loss and obesity.

Growing Spinach in your own backyard garden has several benefits.

  • Replaces the cost of purchasing spinach in the store. You can also grow it organically if you choose.
  • Vast health benefits that we discussed above such as high vitamin and mineral content.
  • Growing during the wintertime means that you will have fresh vegetables all year-round.

However, there are few factors to consider before growing spinach.

Factors To Consider Before Growing Spinach

1| Type of Soil

As a gardener, you should know the best soil to plant and grow your spinach. A good draining fertile soil is the best soil to plant and grow your spinach.

It prevents flooded and stagnant water that may destroy your spinach.

2| Temperature

Spinach does not grow well in either extremely hot or cold temperature. Temperature is, therefore, a factor to consider when planting and growing spinach.

The average favorite temperature for growing spinach is around 60- 70 degrees. It is also important to moisture your spinach regularly.

3| Spinach Varieties

This is a very crucial factor to consider when growing spinach. Some spinach varieties do well in various temperature conditions.

Some do well in cold and others do well in warm temperature.

Some of the different types of spinach varieties also require different spacing to others during planting.

Spinach also takes a different period to grow and harvest.

Some take longer and others shorter. Taste is also an important factor to consider. Some spinach varieties taste different from others.

It is obvious that everyone wants the best delicious tasting spinach. As a Gardener, it is therefore important to understand different spinach varieties.

There are three major varieties of spinach that exist. The Savoy, Semi-Savoy, and Flat or Smooth leaf spinach.

  1. Savoy Spinach has thick and deep crinkled leaves that are hard to clean.
  2. Semi-Savoy Spinach has less crinkled leaves. This type of spinach have partially straight leaves and are so easy to clean. More often than not, they are grown in home gardens.
  3. Smooth Leafed Spinach with smooth and flat leaves. They are very easy to clean and are mostly used as processed vegetables.

Mega List of Spinach Varieties

We broke down the different varieties of spinach by the types of leaves.

Savoy Spinach

Hammerhead Spinach

These are round and curled Savoy types of spinach. They have dark green leaves that are rich in fiber. This type of spinach is very delicious.

Most often than not, they are eaten raw or lightly cooked as salads. They have a fast growth rate and a harvest period of 27 days. They are also fast in bolting.

Bloomsdale Spinach

A Green thumb gardener favorite. These are savoy types of spinach. This spinach variety has heavily curled leaves that have a medium-dark greenish color.

They have a medium growth rate and a harvest period of estimated 45 days. They are fast in bolting.

They are highly tolerant and do well in cold temperature. Above all, they are delicious when slightly cooked as a salad.

Palco Spinach

Palco is a savoy type of spinach. They have dark greenish, deeply curled, round and cupped leaves. This spinach is adaptable to both high and low temperature.

This type of spinach have a harvest period of 38 days and are highly resistant to diseases.

They also have a high bolting resistance that can hold for long without succumbing to mildew.

Regiment Spinach

These are Savoy types of spinach. This spinach variety has large, tender, curly and deep green leaves that are edible when raw.

You may find they are delicious when slightly cooked as salads. This Spinach has 37 days of maturity and slow to bolt.

Semi-Savoy Spinach

Carmel Spinach

These spinach plants are fast-growing, upright, uniform and semi-savoy types of spinach. This type of spinach has attractive and dark green leaves.

This type of spinach takes an average of 25 days to grow baby leaves and 5 weeks for full maturity.

This spinach plant takes less time to turn into seeds therefore fast in bolting. They are tasty and commonly used to make a delicious salad.

Emperor Spinach

This spinach variety are semi-Savoy types of spinach. This spinach plant has deep green leaves and long stem that are easy the bunching process.

It is a different type of spinach that has a medium growth rate with a harvest period of 26 days.

Emperor spinach is slow to bolt and has a strong resistance to the mildew.

Kookaburra Spinach

These are semi-Savoy types spinach. This type of spinach has slightly curved and dark greenish leaves that are mostly found in home gardens.

They have a fast growth rate that takes 26 days to produce baby leaves and 37 days for mature leaves. This different type of spinach has a medium bolting speed.

Acadia Spinach

Acadia are semi-savoy types of spinach. They have oval, glossy and dark green leaves.

They have a medium growth and bolting rate with a harvest period of 27 days.

Tasman Spinach

Tasman are semi-Savoy types of spinach with medium green leaves. They have fast growth that takes 4 weeks to harvest. They also have fast bolting.

Reflect Spinach

Reflect are semi-savoy types of spinach. They have moderately straight and oval leaves that are medium green in color. This spinach variety has a medium growth rate with a harvest period of 28 days.

They also have medium bolting rate.

Kolibri Spinach

Kolibri is a semi-Savoy type of spinach. This type of spinach has a smooth and slightly curled leaves that are medium-dark green.

They have a harvest period of 29 days. They are moderate in bolting speed.

Teton Spinach

This is an upright and semi-Savoy type of spinach. It has oval and deep green leaves that are delicious and tasty when prepared as a salad.

Tetons have a harvest period of 6-7 weeks and are high resistance to mildew. They are therefore slow in bolting.

Indian Summer Spinach

They are semi-savoy types of spinach that are suitable for all the three seasons. I mean, fall, summer and spring season.

This type of spinach has flat and slightly curled leaves that have a dark greenish color. They have a harvest period of approximately 7 weeks and high resistance to bolting.

Catalina Spinach

This is a semi-savoy type of spinach. It has dark greenish, thick, slightly curled and spear-shaped leaves.

This type of spinach has a harvest period of approximated 48 days and are moderate in bolting.

Tyee Spinach

This is a semi-savoy type of spinach. It has heavy, oval and dark green leaves that have an amazing fragrance.

This type of spinach makes the most delicious vegetable salad. They have a harvest period of 45 days and slow in bolting.

Crocodile Spinach

These are semi-Savoy types of spinach that are good tolerance to heat. This different type of spinach has oval and bright green leaves.

It takes approximately 4 weeks for baby leaves that are very tasty for salads.

However, its maturity or harvest period takes an estimated 56 days.

Avon Spinach

This is another semi-Savoy type of spinach that has a perfect taste for salads. It has slightly curly and dark green leaves that are large and suitable for freezing.

It has a harvest period of 6-7 weeks.

Smooth-Flat Leaf Spinach

Space Spinach

This variety of spinach is a flat-leafed type of spinach with smooth, round and dark green leaves. This spinach plant has a fast growth rate with a harvest period of 40- 45 days.

This type of spinach is slow in bolting and can tolerate high heat.

Gazelle Spinach

This type of spinach are smooth, fine and straight leafed spinach. They have dark greenish leaves that are mid- oval and round. They also have long stems for easy bunching.

They have a fast growth rate with a harvest period of 26 days. They are suitable and yield well during the fall harvest season.

Gazelle spinach is fast in bolting with good resistance to mildew and diseases. They have good flavor and suitable for making a delicious salad.

Corvair Spinach

These are smooth and straight leafed spinach. They have oval and upright leaves that have a dark greenish color. They have a medium growth rate with a harvest period of 27 days. They are slow in bolting.

Flamingo Spinach

These are smooth, uniform and straight leafed types of spinach. They have dark greenish leaves that are long with a sharp arrow tip. This type of spinach has a fast growth rate of 27 days and a medium bolting speed.

Red Kitten Spinach

These are straight leafed types of spinach. They have straight, uniform and smooth leaves that are medium green in color with dark red veins.

This spinach has fast growth of 26- 30 days and should be harvested early. This is because they have very fast bolting speed.

Wood Pecker Spinach

They are smooth, long and straight leafed spinach. They have a medium-dark green color and a medium growth rate. They have a harvest period of 28 days. They are delicious and slow in bolting.

Seaside Spinach

They are smooth and straight leafed types of spinach. They have small and spade-shaped leaves that are dark greens. They have a harvest period of 30 estimated 30 days and slow bolting speed.

Renegade Spinach

Renegade spinach has dark green leaves and tender stems making the best choice for salads.

They have a maturity period of 6-7 weeks and are highly resistant to diseases. This type of spinach is slow in bolting.

It is therefore important to consider the above-explained varieties when planting and growing spinach.

What Next? | Take Spinach to the Next Level

Wow. There are so many varieties of spinach that you can grow in your backyard garden. Growing spinach is one of the vegetables that you can grow at least twice a year in the cooler season.

It really makes sense to find a type of spinach that you will enjoy and try that one. We tend to grow the heirloom varieties of spinach to save seeds, but we also grow some F1 varieties.

Take a look at our Monumental Spinach growing guide here for more information. Leave a comment below to let us know your favorite variety that we may have forgotten.

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Spinach is a leafy vegetable grown since ancient times.

Spinach produces rosettes of leaves.

The cartoon character Popeye attributed his great strength to eating spinach — maybe justifiably, since this leafy vegetable has a very high iron content. Spinach (Spinacia oleracea) is a hardy annual related to beets and Swiss chard that has been used by humans for a long time.Native to southwest Asia, it was first cultivated in Persia (Iran) over 2000 years ago and used by the Chinese in the 6th century. Arabs brought it to the Spanish around the 11th century, and it had spread to the rest of Europe by the 14th century. It was brought to the Americas with the early colonists. The plant grows a rosette of dark green leaves, but under warm temperatures and long daylength it bolts, or goes to seed. The leaves may be eaten fresh or cooked.

Varieties of Spinach

There are two basic types of spinach with either smooth leaves or crinkly (savoy) leaves. The smooth types are normally grown for freezing and canning because they grow faster, yield more and are easier to clean.

Spinach may have smooth leaves (L) or crinkly (savoy) leaves (R).

The savoy types are preferred for the home garden and fresh market use because they look and taste better, keep longer and have less oxalic acid (which can interfere with the utilization of calcium or magnesium in the diet) than smooth leaf types. Semi-savoy types have lightly crinkled leaves.

Rounded spinach seeds.

Some of the newer varieties of spinach, such as ‘Indian Summer’ and ‘Olympia’, are slow bolting (seed-stalk development is slow even as day length increases), so these may be desirable for summer crops. Older varieties without this trait are best used for spring or fall plantings. The old rule of thumb was that prickly-seeded varieties were best for spring and fall, while round-seeded varieties were better for summer, but this is no longer true as new varieties of slow-bolting, round-seeded types have been developed.

Some commonly available cultivars include:

  • ‘Avon’ is a semi-savoy type for early spring planting. It has large, slightly crinkled, dark green leaves and has resistance to blight and mildew. (44 days to harvest).

    ‘Bloomsdale Long Standing’ spinach.

  • ‘Bloomsdale Longstanding’ is an older variety, and one of the best tasting, but has no disease resistance. It grows erect, with thick, very crinkly, glossy dark green leaves. It is good for late spring and early summer harvest, and will often overwinter with mulching. Other Bloomsdale types have been selected for earlier maturity and slow bolting. (48 days to harvest)
  • ‘Melody’ is an All-America Selection winner (1977) that has tender, dark green, lightly crinkled leaves with superior flavor. It has tolerance to downy mildew races 1 and 2 and is resistant to cucumber mosaic virus. It grows quickly to a large plant, so is good for spring or fall plantings. (42 days to harvest)
  • ‘Olympia’ has smooth, dark green leaves. It is very fast-growing, but is also very slow to bolt, so is good for spring and early summer planting. It is resistant to downy mildew races 1, 2, and 3. (46 days to harvest)
  • ‘Space’ spinach.

    ‘Regal’ is a semi-savoyed variety suited to dense plantings for baby leaves. It is resistant to downy mildew races 1-7. (30 days to harvest)

  • ‘Space’ is another smooth-leaved, bolt-resistant variety suitable for later plantings. It has a thick leaf that doesn’t bruise as easily as some types, even when small. Good for both baby spinach and full grown plants. (39 days to harvest)
  • ‘Tyee’ is a fast-growing savoy type with thick dark green leaves, similar to Melody. The upright growth habit helps produce cleaner leaves. It is very slow to bolt and is resistant to downy mildew races 1 and 3. (39 days to harvest)

Varieties with resistance to blue mold were developed at the UW-Madison in the late 1950’s – including ‘Badger Savoy’ and ‘Wisconsin Bloomsdale’ – but these do not seem to be available anymore.

New Zealand spinach.

New Zealand spinach (Tetragonia tetragonioides or previously T. expansa) is a completely different plant in a different family. Native to New Zealand, this tender annual grows weak, spreading stems 2-4 feet long. Its dark green leaves are smaller and fuzzier than regular spinach, but when cooked are virtually indistinguishable from the real thing. However, it grows best under long warm days so it will produce all summer long when regular spinach turns bitter or goes to seed. Its culture is the same as for regular spinach, except it should be planted

Malabar spinach.

1-2 inches apart after the soil is warm, and the multiple seedlings from each seed cluster should be thinned when the seedlings are large enough to handle. Pinch off the ends of the stems of large plants to encourage new growth.

There are a number of other tropical plants that are spinach substitutes, including Malabar spinach (Basella alba), water spinach (Ipomoea aquatica), and Chinese or African spinach (Amaranthus gangeticus).

Planting

Plant spinach from seed when conditions are suitable. Spinach seed does not remain viable for very long, so purchase seed packaged for the current year.

Spinach is a cool-season crop, best grown in spring or fall.

You may be able to keep spinach seed under optimal storage conditions for a couple of years, but germination rates will probably be much lower.

‘Olympia’ spinach seedlings, with their long, narrow cotyledons and rounded true leaves.

Spinach is a cool-season crop that should be planted in early spring, about 4 weeks before your area’s average date of last frost. Ideal spinach weather is 50 to 60°F. Spinach does best in well-drained soil rich in organic matter, and will tolerate partial shade. Plant seeds 1-4 inches apart and about ½ inch deep. If you use the closer spacing, thin when the leaves touch, when the plants are about 2″ tall, using the tender leaves for salad greens.

Make sequential plantings about 2 weeks apart to continue harvesting spinach through the summer. Choose bolt-resistant varieties for later plantings. But even slow bolting types will not remain vegetative for very long, so each planting’s productive time will be short. Leaf quality declines when the reproductive cycle begins with seed-stalk formation.

Extend the growing season for spinach with a cold frame.

A fall crop often tastes better than the spring crop because the temperature cycle of warm to cool weather is more predictable. Plant the fall crop in mid-August for a late-September (or later) harvest. Extend the season by covering the plants during really cold nights or grow in a cold frame. I have been able to harvest spinach in late December many years after growing the plants in a temporary cold frame (created from a curved glass pane and board ends set on my raised bed) when the fall weather has not been extremely cold.

You can also try a “winter” crop, planted in late September, that will grow a little before going dormant for the winter. Alternatively, just cut off the leaves of the plants of your fall crop, leaving the roots and growing point intact. These plants may overwinter to grow a new crop of leaves in the spring. In colder areas or severe winters, covering the plants with mulch may enhance their survival. Some varieties, such as ‘Bloomsdale Longstanding’, are hardier than others, and are more likely to survive the winter.

Culture

Spinach grows best in rich, moist but well-drained soil.

Grow spinach in rich, moist soil with good soil aeration. Poor, dry soil only encourages spinach to go to seed. It does best with uniformly moist soil, but try to avoid splashing water so the leaves won’t get so dirty. You can mulch around the plants to help retain moisture and keep soil off the leaves.

Spinach is a weak competitor, so keep the spinach bed weed-free. Pull tiny weeds or cut off larger ones at ground level to avoid injuring the shallow roots of the spinach plants.

Spinach is a heavy feeder. Fertilize before planting and at midseason to stimulate growth and yield. This is more important in spring when nitrogen is less available to plants in the cold soil. Apply a sidedressing when plants are about 2 inches tall. Use about ¼ pound of 5-10-5 fertilizer per 10 feet of row. If the leaves begin to yellow, add additional nitrogen.

Pest Management

There are few insects or diseases that bother spinach. Aphids may occasionally infest plants and spinach leafminer may be problematic in some areas. Aphids can be controlled by removing infested leaves or with chemicals if numerous. Minor infestations are often destroyed by a variety of natural enemies, such as green lacewings, lady beetles and parasitic wasps. Aphids may also be washed off the leaves with a vigorous stream of water.

Spinach leafminer is a fly that lays its eggs on the undersides of the leaves. The maggots burrow into the leaf and create conspicuous trails as they eat their way through the leaf. Remove leaves with eggs or mines, but don’t spray chemicals since they are ineffective once the insect is inside the leaf. To prevent leaf miner damage put floating row cover on after thinning. But use supports, such as hoops, to keep the fabric off of the plants. unlike other plants which tolerate row cover placed directly on the plants, the tender spinach leaves can be abraded if the fabric brushes back and forth in windy conditions.

Slugs can also be a problem in very moist situations. Do not mulch around the plants.

Spinach is susceptible to rust, but most varieties are rust resistant. Occasionally leaf spots, either Cercospora leaf spot or Anthracnose, may develop on the upper sides of the leaves, then fall out to form holes. Fungicides will control these diseases. Choose resistant varieties if downy mildew is a problem in your garden.

Harvesting

Bunches of spinach for sale at a farmers market.

You can remove individual leaves periodically starting when the plants have at least 6 true leaves. Or harvest the entire plant at maturity. This is probably the best harvesting method in the spring , or when a central stalk begins to appear. Cutting the plants off at the soil line will keep the harvested leaves cleaner than if the whole plant with its roots is removed. In the fall, removing the outer leaves only will allow the plant to continue to grow and produce more for continued harvest.

Loose leaf spinach for sale at a farmers market.

Wash the leaves thoroughly in plenty of water to eliminate the grit that sometimes sticks to the leaves, especially the crinkled types.

Fresh spinach can be refrigerated up to one week. The leaves can also be frozen, canned or dried.

Serving Suggestions

Spinach is great in salads.

Nothing beats a salad of tender young spinach leaves you’ve grown yourself (other than maybe your own garden-fresh lettuce). There are many possibilities for creating a unique spinach salad, such as by adding a bacon-dripping dressing and chopped, hardboiled egg, or combining the leaves with strawberries and walnuts lightly dressed with a raspberry vinaigrette (or orange segments, sliced red onion and pecans).

Spinach is equally delightful cooked. Try lightly sautéing it in garlic-infused olive oil and serve with a spritz of balsamic vinegar and a few pine nuts. Add chopped spinach leaves and cannellini beans to chicken soup for a different taste. Or mix with cooked pasta, dried tomatoes, Kalamata olives and grated Asiago cheese for a quick dinner.

Spinach is an important ingredient in a number of traditional dishes, such as spanakopita, the Greek spinach and feta cheese pie and many Indian dishes. It’s even added to pasta to create green noodles. In Florence, Italy, spinach was considered a nobleman’s delicacy, so today “Florentine” usually denotes the inclusion of spinach in a recipe. There are hundreds of recipes for Florentine dishes using fish, chicken, pasta and vegetables.

– Susan Mahr, University of Wisconsin – Madison


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4 kinds of spinach varieties to grow in your garden

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A spring and summer guide to fruit and vegetables for your garden

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Question: I love fresh spinach. But I planted it in this spring and it hardly grew. Now it is bolting. What is the problem?

Answer: Spinach is sensitive to day length. When the days get longer, it wants to flower. So little growth and long days means the plants will bloom when they are still small.

Growing true broadleaf spinach usually easiest in the cooler spring and fall. Since it is nearing summer solstice, try planting other leafy greens that are more heat tolerant. These are not true spinaches, but can be used as such: New Zealand, amaranth, or orach are all other species of leafy greens that taste a lot like spinach. They thrive in the heat and don’t bolt as easily as true broadleaf spinaches. All are tested and sold by local western Oregon seed companies.
New Zealand “spinach” (Tetragonia expansa) welcomes long, hot days and will yield well until frost. This warmth-loving leafy green also performs well in containers, growing back after cutting. As the outer large leaves of New Zealand “spinach” may be tough, use only the most tender leaves. Not related to true spinach, it does not bolt or turn bitter in hot weather and is high in vitamin C. Available at Victory Seeds: https://www.victoryseeds.com/spinach_new-zealand.html

Amaranth – The leaves of this plant can be eaten when they are young. When the plant gets mature, it bears edible, protein rich seeds, good in bread. Adaptive Seeds, a local seed company sells several lovely varieties that are as beautiful as ornamentals: https://www.adaptiveseeds.com/seeds/vegetables/amaranth-vegetables/

Q&A: Solutions for peony pests, Camellia pruning and growing green beans

More: What is the best way to plant squash?

Itching to plant?: Know when best time to plant what is

Orach (Atriplex hortensis) – This wonderful deep purple mountain spinach is a terrific summer green. It grows to 5 feet tall with thick, slightly wrinkled, large, spade-shaped purple leaves Contains three times the vitamin C as spinach. An outstanding annual ornamental edible. Available through Territorial Seed: http://www.territorialseed.com/product/Double_Purple_Orach_Organic_Seed

Traditional, cool season or broadleaf spinach varieties are best grown when the weather stays below 75 degrees F. I’d plant some true spinach again in the late summer, on the shady side of larger plants, such as tomatoes.

Other garden tasks for June:

  • Prune your spring flowering shrubs after blooming including lilacs, forsythia, rhododendrons, and azaleas.
  • Thin your young veggies, then enjoy the thinnings: lettuce, onion, carrots, beet greens, chard.
  • Don’t forget to pick strawberries or the birds or disease will get them first.
  • Mulch your flower beds with an inch or two of sawdust, lawn clippings, barkdust, or composted leaves. Mulch helps prevent soil moisture loss and discourages weeds.
  • Take off some of your tree fruits after the natural fruit drop. Apples, pears and peaches bear larger fruits and have more even bearing year to year if some of the fruits are removed from each cluster when small.
  • Keep it growing! Sow more vegetables from seed: lettuce, greens, peas, bush beans, beets, bulb fennel for late summer and early fall harvest. Plant your melons, cucumbers and squash starts by the middle of the month.

Carol Savonen is a naturalist and writer. She is an associate professor emeritus at OSU and tends a large garden in the Coast Range Hills west of Philomath with her husband and dogs. She can be reached at [email protected] or c/o: EESC, 422 Kerr Admin. Bldg., OSU, Corvallis, OR 97331.

Spinach Varieties

Spinach is one of the most versatile greens you can grow. It fits into almost any part of the menu. Delicious raw in salads, it’s also tasty steamed, stir-fried with a little garlic and ginger, or chopped and added to soups, quiches and casseroles. In addition, spinach is one of the most nutritious greens you can grow. Raw spinach is high in vitamins A and C, calcium and iron.

Timing Your Planting

The leaves of a robust spinach plant are large, and if you’ve ever grown spinach, you know it doesn’t take many leaves to fill a basket. But, when you cook them, they really wilt, and a lot turns to a little. To get a lot of spinach from a small space, try planting it in wide rows 15 to 20 inches across. Because spinach thrives in cool weather, plant early in the spring and again in late summer or fall for fall or winter harvest, depending on your climate. In many parts of the country you can plant in fall and overwinter the crop for an early spring harvest.

Don’t be afraid to start your spinach plants early in the season, three to six weeks before the last frost-free day in your area. Spinach seeds germinate well in cool soil, and the young plants grow best at cool temperatures and tolerate light frosts. If you plant too late in the season, you may find that early summer heat and lengthening days cause your plants to bolt, or form seedheads before you have much of a harvest.

Spinach Varieties

‘Bloomsdale Longstanding’ is an old favorite of many gardeners. It has crinkled, dark green leaves and is slow to bolt. ‘Tyee’ is another popular, widely adapted savoy type. ‘Olympia’ is smooth leaved, while ‘Melody’ is heavy yielding and disease resistant. ‘Winter Bloomsdale’ is a nice fall-harvested spinach; many gardeners, especially those in the South where winters are mild, plant it in the fall to harvest through the cool winter months and early spring.

And then there’s ‘New Zealand’ spinach, which isn’t a spinach at all, but a green that’s grown as a warm-weather substitute for spinach. The leaves have a spinach-like flavor and can be eaten raw or cooked, although not everyone finds them very palatable when raw. The seeds of ‘New Zealand’ spinach have a hard seed coat. Soaking them overnight before planting will hasten germination, although you can usually get a good stand just by planting in moist soil.

VARIETIES OF SPINACH

Amazon

This is an F1 hybrid variety with good resistance to downy mildew and also bolting. Strong growing with deep green, round and glossy leaves. This variety is best harvested when the leaves are young and small, they grow back quickly for repeated harvesting. Given an Award of Garden Merit (AGM) by the RHS IN 2008. Seeds cost around £1.20 for 500.

Barbados

Another F1 variety, it is a compact grower which stays upright keeping the leaves off the ground. Resistant to to mildew, smaller leaves than normal but lots of them. Appear to only be available from Mr Fothergills. Given an Award of Garden Merit (AGM) by the RHS IN 2008.

Lazio

Lazio is a modern variety of spinach which quickly produces leaves that have no hint of bitterness. This variety is equally well suited to harvesting baby or more mature leaves. It is an F1 seed which was given an AGM in 2007 by the RHS. The leaves are dark green and rounded. This is the variety most sold in the supermarkets as baby leaf spinach.

Palco

Another F1 variety, Palco has good resistance to mildew. It is suitable for sowing all year round. Awarded an AGM by the Royal Horticultural Society. Slowly becoming more difficult to buy seeds.

Perpetual Spinach

An excellent choice for sowing in late August or early September. It rarely bolts and withstands cold very well.

Perpetual Spinach

Reddy

Currently being evaluated by our team. We do know though that germination rates, often a problem with spinach, are good. This F1 variety can be sown year round.

Spinach variety “Reddy”

Red Veined

The red veins make this variety an ideal candidate for being used in salads as well as cooked. For tender baby leaves harvest five weeks after sowing. Left to grow the red veins become more pronounced. Resistant to mildew, this variety has been bred for British weather conditions.

Spinach variety “Red Veined”

Violin

A new F1 variety which tastes good as baby leaves or left to grow to full size. Resistant to bolting and downy mildew. It will continue to produce leaves well in autumn, longer if given cloche protection.

Spinach variety “Violin”

Popular Spinach Varieties: Growing Different Types Of Spinach

Spinach is both delicious and nutritious, and it’s easy to grow in the vegetable garden. Instead of buying plastic boxes of spinach from the store that go bad before you can use it all, try growing your own greens. There are a lot of different kinds of spinach too, so you can choose your favorite, or succession plant to get several spinach varieties throughout an extended growing season.

Growing Different Types of Spinach

Why not just grow one variety? Because there are so many great options out there to discover. And, if you plant multiple spinach plant types, you can get an extended and ongoing harvest. Different varieties have different maturation times and best conditions in which to plant, so you can grow them in succession and potentially get fresh spinach from spring through fall. Of course, another reason to grow multiple varieties is simply to get different flavors and textures.

There are two main types of spinach: fast- and slow-growing. The fast-growing varieties do best when maturing in cooler weather, so these can be started in late winter/early spring and in the fall. Slow-growing varieties prefer warmer conditions and can be started in late spring and summer.

Popular Spinach Varieties

Here are some different spinach varieties to try in your garden as you plan for the next growing season:

  • ‘Bloomsdale Longstanding’ – This is a popular medium-growth rate savoy spinach. It has the classic dark green, crinkly leaves and produces prolifically. Time to maturity is 48 days.
  • ‘Regiment’ – Another savoy, this is a great variety for harvesting baby spinach. Be ready to pick in about 37 days.
  • ‘Space’ – This hybrid variety has smooth leaves and grows fast. It bolts less readily than other smooth-leaved spinach types. It is a good spinach for freezing.
  • ‘Red Kitten’ – A fast-growing spinach, this type has red veining and stems. It matures in just 28 days.
  • ‘Indian Summer’ – Indian Summer is a smooth-leaved spinach. It matures in 40 to 45 days and is a good option for season-long production. With succession planting, you can get leaves spring, summer, and fall.
  • ‘Double Take’ – This variety is slow to bolt and produces a very tasty leaf. It can be grown for baby leaves or mature leaves.
  • ‘Crocodile’ – Crocodile is a good slow-growing variety for the warmer part of the year. It is also a compact plant if you have limited space.

If your climate is just too warm for spinach, try so-called New Zealand and Malabar spinach plants. These are not actually related to spinach, but they are similar in texture and taste and will grow in hotter climates.

MALAYSIA (THE STAR / ANN) – There is a lot to like about spinach. An annual plant native to central and South-west Asia, it is a nutritional powerhouse, like many other leafy greens. Its leaves are very tender when cooked and crunchy-fresh when used raw, with a hint of cleansing astringent bitterness.

It is believed to have originated from ancient Persia (Iran today), and found itself entering China by way of Nepal. Even today, China is the largest grower of spinach in the world, accounting for over 90 per cent of the world’s spinach haul.

The United States is the world’s second-largest spinach producer, which may explain why the country celebrated National Spinach Day on March 26.

By the 12th century, spinach had become pretty popular in Europe, gaining a reputation as a healthy vegetable. In the 16th century, Florence-born Catherine de Medici – the Queen of France from 1547 to 1559 and the wife of King Henry II – was said to be very fond of the vegetable, even introducing it to her court. It is an unverified legend, but it is said that is why dishes called “Florentine” are always served on a bed of spinach (along with a creamy sauce).

Spinach’s scientific name is Spinacia oleracea, and it belongs to the Amaranthaceae family. There are three types: savoy, which is a dark green with curly leaves, usually sold fresh; flat leaf, which has broad, smooth leaves and which is usually the kind you will find processed; semi-savoy, is a hybrid, which you can get both fresh and processed.

Spinach is a good source of non-heme iron (the kind you get from vegetables), but you need to cook it to break down the oxalates that will inhibit your body from absorbing it (more on oxalates later).

So a cup of cooked spinach contains about 6.5mg of iron. And if you also eat meat, fish or poultry, fruits like oranges or strawberries, or vegetables like tomatoes and broccoli, your iron absorption will go up.

“I’d certainly recommend it as part of a healthy diet.”

Those water-soluble vitamins are also the reason that you want to avoid long, high-heat cooking – which could destroy those nutrients. So aim to steam, or quickly sauté.

“It is a vegetable that is easy to add into many dishes without worrying about the flavour interfering in the overall meal,” said Ms Prabaharan.

“Chop it up and add it into your smoothies, pasta sauces, salads, soups, stir-fries or even mix it in with burger patties or meatballs for kids. This helps to hide the spinach, while ensuring they still eat it.”

Choose crisp, dark green leaves and don’t rinse before storing. Definitely rinse well before cooking though, as soil and sand have a tendency to cling to leaves, and can result in a nasty surprise.

Well then.

That is spinach in a nutshell, but there are a host of other plants – some from the same family, others completely unrelated – that also at least partly bear the moniker. And most Malaysians would be very familiar with bayam already, although perhaps less so with Brazilian or Surinam spinach.

Leafy green vegetables like spinach, they also tend to be founts of nutrients in similar fashion, although there is less research than compared to their more established cousin. Ms Prabaharan still recommends them as part of a healthy diet.

And unlike spinach itself – which likes more sub-tropical climates – some of them grow very well in the heat and humidity of Malaysia.

According to Shao-Lyn Low from urban permaculturists Eats, Shoots and Roots, Surinam, Malabar and Brazilian spinach are all easy to grow at home, even for beginners.

“Surinam and Brazilian spinach are both grown from cuttings, which are also easier to get. You just pick their leaves and then trim them down and they will continue to grow,” she said. “Malabar spinach is grown from seed.”

“I think the easiest to grow and cultivate would be Surinam – it seems to be attacked by the least pests – then Brazilian. For Malabar spinach, you also need a trellis, because it’s a vine.”

Read on to find out more about the fake spinaches which should be a very real part of your kitchen rituals, then enjoy some recipes in which they take starring roles, from chef Jean Michel Fraisse of The French Culinary School in Asia. The spinach choice for those aren’t carved in stone, so you can mix and match to find what works for you – or what is available.

Malabar spinach

(Basella alba, Basella ruba)

A vine plant, Malabar spinach is an easy-growing vegetable in our climate, since it loves the heat. You’ll also find it called Ceylon or Vietnamese spinach, red vine spinach, or saan choy.

The two main types of Malabar spinach come with green stems (Basella alba) or red stems (Basella ruba); both have fleshy, thick leaves. When cooked, the semi-succulent leaves have a slightly gluey, mucilaginous texture (similar to that of ladies’ fingers) which works particularly well in soups. In Chinese restaurants, it is often stir-fried as well, and it retains a gentle crunch when lightly cooked.

It is very popular in India, where it finds itself used across states, thickening curries – with jackfruit seeds in Karnataka cuisine, or yam in Andhra Pradesh. This vegetable is rich in vitamins A and C, iron and calcium, as well as antioxidants and soluble fibre.

Brazilian spinach

(Alternanthera sissoo)

Also known as sissoo spinach, these gently ruffled leaves are from the Amaranthaceae family. They have a fresh, tender crunch, and no hint of the mucilaginous texture that can put some people off other kinds of “spinach”. The stems are not eaten, just the leaves (newer leaves are more tender), and they’re usually steamed or cooked in stir-fries or soups. They are also eaten raw – and are quite lemony and peppery – in salads in Brazil, but because of the oxalates (them again; we will get to them), if you are eating large amounts, you should cook them.

Brazilian spinach is easy to grow at home from cuttings, and seems to like hot, humid Malaysian weather quite a bit. It will thrive equally well in sunny and shady conditions, spreading out along the ground. And the crinkly, vibrant green leaves are very pretty too.

Surinam spinach

(Alinum triangulare)

With elongated, crunchy leaves with a hint of peppery, citrus tang and pretty pink-purple flowers that can also be eaten, Surinam spinach would be an aesthetically pleasing addition to your kitchen garden.

You will also find this perennial, originally from South America, under the names waterleaf, Surinam purslane, Philippine spinach or Florida spinach.

As with its brethren, the tangy leaves are full of protein, vitamins A and C, iron and calcium.

Cook them lightly to maintain the nutrients.

Grow it from cuttings, in partial shade – whether in your vegetable garden or flower border.

Amaranth

(Amaranthus dubius, Amaranthus gangeticus, Amaranthus tricolor)

What you know as bayam merah or bayam hijau here is actually a kind of amaranth, rather than spinach. Spinach is also from the Amaranthacae family, but amaranth and spinach are from different genera – the genus of amaranth is Amaranthus, while the genus of spinach is Spinacia. This vegetable is also called een/en choy or Chinese spinach. Try the leaves stir-fried or lightly steamed.

Amaranth is easily grown here, as you can see from its easy availability in markets and supermarkets, but caterpillars do love to munch their way through the leaves.

The issue of oxalates

We come to the issue of oxalates. These are actually substances that naturally occur in the body, and play a role in our metabolism. Spinach, and the “fake” spinaches featured here – as with many other leafy plants – are also quite high in oxalates.

Oxalates become a problem if too much of them accumulate in the body – they tend to bind with substances like iron and calcium – which can mean that you miss out on absorbing those nutrients, and in the case of calcium, can cause kidney stones, if in excess.

So a couple of years ago, many health aficionados became concerned, and there was talk of avoiding spinach and other vegetables high in oxalates – rhubarb, for example – entirely.

But the keywords here are moderation and common sense.

As dietitian Goh Chui Hoong said: “The oxalate content of foods is usually not a major concern, unless you have specific health concerns such as hyperoxalouria (excessive urinary excretion of oxalates), high risk of kidney stones or some form of kidney failure.”

According to her, the United States’ National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (Niosh) reported a lethal dose of 15mg to 30mg for humans.

“To put it simply, you would need to consume 2.5kg to 3.5kg spinach at one time, and this is highly underestimated because the oxalate content in spinach is not as bioavailable as the lethal dose quoted. So based on this, it is quite safe to consume spinach, any type for that matter,” she said.

In light of how much good stuff there is in spinach, it is not just safe but desirable. There are also many who believe that cooking spinach reduces its oxalate content.

“The average balanced diet would have a mix of all kinds of different foods which means that we’d never be consuming the amount of spinach necessary to be toxic,” said Ms Prabaharan. She advises rotating your vegetables and not just consuming spinach daily at every meal.

In the case of the non-absorption of iron: Spinach is a source of non-heme iron, which is found in vegetable sources. Non-heme iron is not as bioavailable to the body as the heme iron found in animal products, because of the oxalate which binds it.

However, cooking spinach can help unlock these iron absorption inhibitors and hence increase iron bioavailability. In other words, cooking spinach helps make its iron more available to your body.

And as mentioned, you can also consume spinach in tandem with vitamin C-rich food to increase iron absorption.

SURINAM SPINACH, HERBS & COCONUT CHUTNEY RICE PAPER ROLL WITH PINEAPPLE-CORIANDER PESTO

Makes 12
Ingredients
For the green coconut chutney:
3 kaffir lime leaves, sliced
1 lime, juice and zest
20g ginger, sliced
20g coriander leaves
50g green chilli, seeded
50g spring onion
8g palm sugar
60ml vegetable oil
150g freshly-grated coconut
Salt to taste

For the pineapple and coriander pesto:
1 bunch coriander
2 stalks spring onions
10g fresh ginger
60g pineapple
60g mirin
30g lemon or lime juice
Salt to taste

For the spring rolls:
12 sheets Vietnamese rice paper
4 red baby radishes, sliced
12 daun kadok
1 cucumber, cut into thin batons
Surinam (or other) spinach leaves
mint leaves, laksa leaves, dill, Thai basil, sawtooth coriander, etc, to taste
70g toasted peanuts, chopped
12 stems kuchai (Chinese chive) flowers, cut to about 10cm strips

Method
1. To make coconut chutney: Combine all the ingredients, except grated coconut, and process in a blender. Combine with grated coconut and set aside.
2. To make pesto: Combine all the ingredients and process to a coarse paste.
3. To make spring rolls: Briefly dip rice paper in cold water to soften. Place on chopping board and pat dry. Arrange radish, daun kadok, spinach leaves and cucumber in the middle of the rice paper. Top with a tablespoon of coconut chutney and herbs. Roll up with a stem of kuchai flower. Serve with the pineapple and coriander pesto.

BAKED BRAZILIAN SPINACH FISH CAKES WITH CHILLI LIME DRESSING

Ingredients
For the chilli lime dressing:
2 Tbs mirin
2 Tbs lime juice
1 green chilli padi, chopped
Fish sauce, to taste
Freshly ground pepper, to taste

For the spinach fish cakes:
250g mackerel (tenggiri) fillet, chopped
200g Brazilian (or other) spinach, wilted
160g cooked quinoa
1 green or jalapeño chilli, chopped
2 cloves garlic, chopped
4 kaffir lime leaves, finely shredded
1 bunch mint, shredded
1 bunch coriander leaves, shredded
2 spring onions, chopped
1 egg white
Salt and pepper to taste
Oil, for brushing

For the salad:
40g shredded cabbage
4 petals bunga kantan, julienned
Coriander leaves, ulam raja, Thai basil, laksa leaf (kesom) to taste
Romaine or butterhead lettuce leaves, to serve
Lime wedges, to serve

Method
1. To make chilli lime dressing: Place all the ingredients in a bowl and mix well. Set aside.
2. To make spinach fish cakes: Preheat oven to 220 deg C. Place all the ingredients, except oil, in an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment. Mix until well combined.
3. Divide and shape the mixture into patties. Place them on a baking tray lined with non-stick baking paper or a silicone mat. Brush both sides of the patties with oil. Bake for 8 minutes. Turn and cook for a further 8 minutes, or until golden and crisp.
4. To make salad: Place the cabbage and leaves in a bowl, and toss to combine.
5. To serve: Enjoy the fish cake in a lettuce leaf with some salad, drizzled with dressing and lime juice.

MALABAR SPINACH, EGG AND BLUE CHEESE PIZZA

Makes 4 small pizzas
Ingredients
For the pizza dough:
250g bread flour
150g cold water
5g salt
2g instant dried yeast
25g olive oil

For the toppings:
140g Malabar (or other) spinach, wilted
2 garlic cloves, chopped
70g grated mozzarella
70g blue cheese, crumbled
80g UHT cream
Salt and pepper, to taste
4 small eggs, for topping

Method
1. To prepare the dough: Combine all the ingredients in a mixing bowl and knead for 5 minutes. Cover the mixing bowl with a cloth and set the dough aside to rest for 30 minutes. Punch the dough and proof for another 30 minutes.
2. Divide into four equal portions, form into balls and set aside in a bowl covered with a cloth, for 15 minutes.
3. To finish the pizza: Preheat the oven to 230°C. Combine all the topping ingredients and set aside.
4. Roll the pizza dough out to 15cm discs, then spread with some of the topping mixture, leaving a hole at the centre for the egg. Bake for 5 minutes, then reduce the temperature of the oven to 180 deg C.
5. Break each egg into a small dish, one at a time, discard a bit of egg white, and place in the centre of each pizza. Bake for a further 2 minutes and serve immediately.

Avon spinach in our hoophouse October 25.
Photo Pam Dawling

For years we grew only Tyee savoyed spinach. It did very well for us in central Virginia. It survived our zone 7a winters outside under rowcover. It could survive without the rowcover, but given that spinach makes growth whenever the air temperature is above 40F, and that the air under rowcover reaches that a lot more often then the air outside, we got much more growth using rowcover. We also got much better quality leaves, as they didn’t get battered by the weather.

Tyee is bolt-tolerant too but tended to yellow, slightly tough, leaves in the fall.

Tyee was dropped as a variety by the growers because (as I understand it) it suffered from a disease that is prevalent in the Pacific Northwest, where spinach seed is grown. It’s a hybrid, so we can’t just save our own seeds. We set out to try other varieties in order to find something to replace our beloved Tyee.

I wrote about spinach varieties here in October 2016.

We tried Chevelle and Avon. Chevelle didn’t do that well for us. Part of the problem was poor germination, which could have just been that one packet of seed. But the pressure was on to find a productive variety, so we gave up on Chevelle.

We strongly prefer savoyed spinach over flat leaf spinach, because it has more loft in salad mixes and is more wilt-resistant after harvest. Apparently the East coast prefers savoyed spinach and the West coast the flat leaf kind, for what that’s worth. And of course, that takes no account of the millions of people between the coasts!

Reflect spinach from a September 12 sowing, outdoors under rowcover after the -9F night in early January.
Photo Pam Dawling

Next we tried Avon and Reflect, and they seemed pretty similar, both have good flavor.

“We found Avon’s DM resistance is not adapted to overwintered protected culture. Otherwise resistant to DM1,2 and CMV .”

Sounds like it might not do as well if water supplies run short once it gets hot. Bolting is initiated by heat, crowding and day-length over 14 hours. Avon claims strong bolt resistance.

Reflect (38 days to mature) semi-savoyed hybrid is recommended by Johnnys as a good alternative to Tyee. It has much more resistatnce to various Downy Mildew strains (1-11, 13, 15, 16), but is “slightly” faster bolting than Tyee. This factor could be set against its very fast growing rate. Its color is a medium-green, less dark than some other varieties.

This winter and spring we are trying Avon, Reflect, Renegade, Escalade and Acadia.

Renegade (43 days mature) smooth leaf hybrid. Slower growing than Corvair, which it resembles in flavor. Does well in chilly damp conditions (our winter hoophouse?) Has resistance to DM 1-7. Bolt-resistant, dark green leaves.

Escalade (43 days mature) slightly savoyed hybrid, with upright growth, claims high bolt resistance. Resistant to DM 1-14, 16. Slower growing than some. Expected to handle temperature and light variability. Good for baby leaf production (not what we do). The flavor is mild (not a good thing, for those of us who love spinach!) Will it grow fast enough in our short springs to give high yields before it bolts? We’ll let you know.

Acadia (45 days mature) slightly savoyed hybrid with upright growth. Resistant to DM 1-13, 15, 16. Even slower growing than Escalade, even more suited to baby leaf production

Our second sowing of hoophouse spinach. Left row Avon, then Acadia, then Escalade, with Renegade nearest the plastic. Sowed 11/8, photographed 2/5.
Photo Pam Dawling

Paul and Sandy Arnold in Argyle, New York, made a great slide show reviewing Spinach Varieties in High Tunnels

The winners (in order) in terms of yield were Pigeon, Space, Giant Winter, Tyee, Palco. These were followed, after a noticeable drop in yield, by Raccoon, Renegade, Donkey, then another noticeable drop to Corvair, Regiment, and a plummet to Bloomsdale Longstanding and Samish. Giant Winter and Bloomsdale Longstanding are the only OPs in the list. We grew Giant Winter once. It did grow enormous leaves, but was very quick to bolt. Unsuited to repeated harvests in our climate.

In 2011-2012, High Mowing Seeds in northern Vermont did a spinach variety trial with 24 varieties, assessing productivity, color and harvest time. The 24 varied a lot in earliness, upright growth habit or not, flat or savoyed leaves, and level of pest resistance.

  • Corvair had a good color and upright growth (clean leaves, easy to pick).
  • Donkey was dark and productive.
  • Emu was an early producer with a better color,
  • Giant Winter was a great early producer although poor on color (and terrible on bolt-resistant when we grew it in Virginia).
  • Lombardia was good on yield and flavor,
  • Raccoon was one of the easiest to pick,
  • Red Kitten (red stems) was pretty and heavy but not high yielding,
  • Reflect was a good survivor in heavy rains,
  • Regiment gave high yields and had a good green color.
  • Space was one of the highest for yield,
  • Samish was good on yield and OK to pick,
  • Tyee had good savoy-ness but lower yield, although many other good points.

Our first sowing of spinach in the hoophouse, photographed in late September. Reflect on the left, Avon on the right.
Photo Pam Dawling

Here’s our spinach planting plan:

We are able to keep harvesting spinach from October 15 to May 25, all the way through the winter.

September 6 is our first sowing (sprouted seeds) in the hoophouse for winter harvest 10/30-2/15,

We sow outdoors on September 7 (sprouted seeds) for growing under rowcover and harvesting in fall and winter,

September 18-20 we sow in our coldframes and outdoors for harvest in early spring, until late May,

October 24 we make our second hoophouse sowing, to feed us November 25 to May 7. In 2017, we failed to water this planting enough, and had to resow November 8.

November 9 we make a third hoophouse sowing, intending to use these plants to fill gaps in our hoophouse as other winter crops come to an end.

January 16 we make more sowings in the hoophouse, some to continue to fill gaps there along the edges of the beds where they won’t fight with the tomatoes and so on, which we transplant starting March 15.

Most of the spinach sown this date is for transplanting outdoors February 21.

January 29 we sow in flats in the greenhouse if we see we haven’t got enough bare-root transplants in the hoophouse.

If we don’t have enough transplants, then on February 10 we sow outdoors with rowcover, for spring harvests until May 25 if we’re lucky. We have backup plans on backup plans for this!

In the hoophouse we continue transplanting spinach to fill gaps until March 31.

Hoophouse spinach #2. Front row (bottom of the picture) Acadia then Escalade then Renegade.
Photo Pam Dawling

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