Saturday Spotlight: Giant Winter Spinach

One of my favorite varieties of spinach is just now ready for harvest here in mid March. ‘Giant Winter’ spinach (aka ‘Gigante d’Inverno’) is a lovely open pollinated heirloom Italian variety that was selected for its cold hardiness as well as its large, tender semi-savoyed leaves.

Giant Winter spinach in cold frame

‘Giant Winter’ spinach in cold frame

In my garden, ‘Giant Winter’ is a dependable performer for planting in fall and overwintering for early spring harvests. I like to cover it with a cold frame, which increases the odds of me harvesting those lovely green leaves as early as possible. The cold frame also keeps the wind and weather off the leaves, keeping them tender and free of wind and frost burn.

Giant Winter, first spinach of 2013

‘Giant Winter’, first spinach of 2013

Last fall I planted the seeds in mid-October, which gave the plants time to size up a little before short days and cold weather arrived. ‘Giant Winter’ also does well for extra early spring plantings, and I just now planted a little more this week. The spring planting will extend the harvest for a few weeks after the overwintered plants start bolting. The season for fresh spinach here is pretty short, and I like to keep the harvest going for as long as possible.

Giant Winter spinach

‘Giant Winter’ spinach from 2012 harvest

The leaves of ‘Giant Winter’ get quite large, bigger than my hand when full sized. But they stay tender and mild tasting, and are good for salads as well as for cooking. Spinach is one of my favorite greens in the kitchen, where it can star in frittatas and pasta dishes as well as go on a pizza or in some fresh made spinach noodles. One of the easiest ways to prepare it is to quickly saute it in a little butter.  It also freezes well, and the frozen spinach can be used in many of the same dishes I just mentioned.

homemade spinach egg noodles

homemade spinach egg noodles

But my favorite spinach dish has to be spinach salad. My recipe for Wilted Spinach Salad is one of my favorites, and something I enjoy every spring when fresh spinach is available from the garden. This time I prepared it with strawberries instead of oranges. It was a nice treat for my lunch earlier this week, and I enjoyed every bite of it!

wilted spinach salad with strawberries

wilted spinach salad with strawberries

I hope you’ve enjoyed this Saturday Spotlight, and I’ll be back soon with another variety. Until then, Happy Growing from Happy Acres!

To see my other Saturday Spotlights, visit the Variety Spotlights page.

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11 Responses to Saturday Spotlight: Giant Winter Spinach

  1. Marcia says:

    What lovely spinach leaves. I wish I had some to harvest now. My spinach wintered over but without the benefit of a cold frame so its just trying to revive itself. Continued cold temps don’t help it much.

    • Dave says:

      After I harvested it this week, it turned cold again here so it hasn’t grown any more. At least it will take off when the weather moderates.

  2. Daphne says:

    I grow that variety too. I don’t protect it over the winter though. The old leaves won’t get eaten. I’ll start eating it once it puts on new growth. This year that is slow in coming as it has been pretty cold and it has been buried in snow. I don’t have a cold frame like you do, and if I did I couldn’t use it where the spinach is. We just put up solar panels and we have found that when the snow comes down it is like an avalanche. It broke a tempered glass table that we had on the back patio. A cold frame would have no chance. It will be interesting to see how the spinach overwintered with that treatment. But at least when the snow comes down there is a cushion of snow already on the ground.

    • Dave says:

      I have a similar problem when snow slides off my greenhouse and onto the cold frames, which are right next to the greenhouse. But then we usually don’t get as much snow as you do. If it broke tempered glass then a cold frame surely wouldn’t make it! Hopefully the snow cover is keeping your spinach protected. We will see spring eventually!

  3. Jenny says:

    WOW! that’s one big spinach! So far I’m not having much luck with spinach, but this year I planted couple of new varities so we’ll see how they’ll do. Maybe in fall I’ll try this type.

  4. Pingback: Saturday Spotlight – Scotch Bonnet (Bishops Cap) Chillies | Suburban Tomato

  5. Liz says:

    That looks like a really useful sized spinach. I have to admit I tend to grow chard rather than spinach to use in cooking. Its easier takes up less space and has a longer productive time here than spinach but I do miss spinach salads. Perhaps I can find a bit of space for some this year.

  6. Mike R says:

    Leaves as big as dinner plates – that’s a spinach I’ve got to try. There’s few plants as versatile as spinach. Too bad it’s season is so short. I picked some overwintered spinach last week but the weather has held up their growth since then.

  7. Debra says:

    I just planted these for the first time.
    I was wondering what zone you are in?

    • Debra says:

      I just found it you are in Southern Indiana. I am in Northern Indiana. I hope I didn’t plant these to early.

      • Dave says:

        According to the Purdue planting schedule, fall spinach can be planted from August 1st til September 1st in northern Indiana. So you are not really that early.

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