This is the latest in a series of posts that I’ve done about my favorite varieties of fruits, vegetables and herbs we grow at Happy Acres. To see my other Spotlights, and those from other garden bloggers, visit the Variety Spotlights page.
While I am a big fan of living in the present moment, sometimes it pays to take a trip to the past in our mind. And if perhaps we could go all the way back to 1809 and visit Thomas Jefferson’s Monticello gardens, we could see today’s spotlight variety growing there. According to historians, Jefferson grew Amsterdam Prickly Seeded Spinach in both spring and fall of that year. We know this because Jefferson kept a detailed journal of his garden and farm operations. This particular spinach must have made an impression on him because he grew it again in 1812 as both a spring and fall crop.
I grew it for the first time last year and it certainly made a good impression on me. I planted it in fall and let it overwinter, and it was a star performer for me. The thick, dark green, slightly pointed leaves are a real standout in the garden, and in the kitchen as well. It has become my favorite spinach for cooking, with flavorful and tender leaves that are also good eaten raw. I planted it again this past fall, and it is doing great this year too.
As the name suggests, the seeds of this spinach are indeed prickly, as you can see in the below photo. Spinach seeds can be either round or prickly, though the seeds of this variety are more prickly than any other I have seen. It would seem that in Jefferson’s time, the prickly seeded types were popular in Europe. Today, many Asian varieties have pointed seeds, and that is generally an indicator that the variety has smooth leaves. Savoy varieties with crinkly leaves are more likely to have round seeds.
Amsterdam Prickly Seeded spinach has overwintered for me the last two winters, both in my greenhouse and in a bed outside protected by a cold frame. According to Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds (where I got mine), it is “slower to bolt than ordinary spinach.” Since this is only my second season to grow it, I haven’t really had a chance to decide how it compares with other varieties when it comes to bolting. I should have a better feel for how it holds up in that regard in about a month or so.
If you enjoy growing vegetables that have stood the test of time, this variety surely qualifies. It was grown in Germany as early as the 13th century, and if you are looking for a tasty and cold-hardy spinach you might consider growing it in your own 21st century garden, like I am.
I hope you’ve enjoyed this Saturday Spotlight, and I’ll be back soon with another variety. Until then, Happy Growing from Happy Acres!