I wasn’t really thinking fall crops with all the 90° days we’ve had lately, but I was at the farmers market and one of my favorite farmers was talking about having just planted their fall spinach. I chatted with him a while about it, which I appreciate since whatever I grow takes away from his sales, and realized that I’d better get my seeds in the ground soon. What I found the most interesting is that even if I don’t get a great harvest now, it will overwinter and I’ll have some very early spring spinach.
I found a great article in Mother Earth News on growing fall spinach. Some of the highlights are that spinach doesn’t germinate well above 75°, and not at all above 85°, it’s not so much the heat that makes it bolt in the spring as much as the length of daytime, and some varieties are better for overwintering than others. Unfortunately for me, I thought about this all too late, so I just planted what I had and I’ll see what happens. It does seem like we’re in for a cool stretch, so maybe I’ll get them to germinate and be healthy plants before the first frost.
Next, I’ll be looking up some of these other varieties that they found to be tastier grown in the fall, the smooth-leaf varieties “Olympia” and “Viroflay”were hits, and the standard savoy varieties, “Bloomsdale Long Standing” and “Tyee” were not as good. There also seemed to be differences in ability to not bolt in warm fall weather, with “Olympia” and “Spinner” fairing the best. I think I’ll be ordering some Olympia seeds next spring!
Next year, required reading will be this Mother Earth News article on planting fall vegetables in general. Late September is not the time to be first thinking about this.