Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Growing Spinach in Kihei


Spinach is a cold tolerant winter vegetable. In a 4 season climate it will grow under a row cover in the snow. Most Hawaii gardeners will tell you that New Zealand spinach is the only spinach that grows in the islands.

I've trialed 8 varieties of spinach and Matador was the only one that was tolerant of the Kihei winter climate. It grew lush green and beautiful spinach leaves all through the winter months and didn't show signs of bolting until April. 

Matador and Spargo
Both seeds were planted on the same day in February

The other varieties of spinach I trialed were America, Bloomsdale, Gigante d’Inverno, Merlo Nero, Monstruex Viroflay and Regiment. They produced plants that looked similar to the Spargo in the above photo.

The best time to plant Matador spinach is from November through February. Seeds can be purchased from Gourmet Seed and Seeds From Italy. 

Spinach grows best in the sun and needs daily water. I grow spinach in a container filled with organic potting soil amended with OMRI azomite, green sand and an organic all-purpose fertilizer. I recommend bi-monthly applications of fish emulsion as regular fertilizer helps to minimize the damage from white flies.

The biggest pest that affects lettuce, chard, kale, spinach, Asian greens and cabbage is the cabbageworm, a soft green caterpillar. It's the larvae of a white moth that mates from November through February. I cover the plants with tulle nets or light row cover cloth. I highly recommend covering these types greens and keeping them covered through February as these caterpillars will devour the plants in a short period of time.  For more information, see my post on Cabbagworms.


  1. I recieved some Matador spinach seeds this past April from my in-laws when they went to Italy. I guess this would be a great variety to plant here later in the spring. Thanks for the info

  2. Beautiful spinach, so interesting to see all that you've tried. What an inspiration!

  3. Hi Robin! That's so cool that you have seeds right from Italy! Matador was a super star here as it can handle the intense sun and 80-90 degree weather. It's a beautiful spinach too.

    Hi Secrets of Mamahood! Jason looks like he is just loving his little pool! I've been trialing as many different varieties of seeds as possible to find out what grows best here and tastes good too. I was so happy to find a spinach that would grow in Kihei!

  4. Oh Jane, that spinach on the right looks all too familiar, lol. I don't live in Kihei but i think i'll give Matador a try! Thanks for the recommendation.

  5. Hi Julie! I'm not sure why I didn't give up but I'm sure glad I didn't. Matador was made for our climate. With your cooler nights you must have longer growing seasons than I do but we probably have similar bug and plant disease challenges.