Spinach can be a useful and versatile addition to your polytunnel garden. It can be used in a wide range of recipes and, if you choose the right varieties, can be grown throughout the year. Some are best sown in the spring, some in the autumn. Some crop early, some in the mid season and some late. Some have better disease resistance than others, and some are more likely to bolt, which can make the leaves taste bitter. At this time of year, you may well be thinking about ordering seeds that can be planted in the spring. Before you buy your spinach seeds, you should consider which varieties will be best to grow in your polytunnel,and which will do best where you live.
First of all, you need to decide whether you would prefer only to grow heritage varieties, from which you can collect the seed, or whether you would be willing to grow F1 types, which will not come true from seed but which will offer superior resistance to diseases and bolting.
When we are talking about heritage 'spinach' varieties, it is important to note that we are also talking about other cooking greens, such as chard, leaf beet/ perpetual spinach, winter spinach, 'Serala' spinach, amaranths, sorrel, vegetable mallow, turnip greens etc... It is a good idea to broaden your horizons when it comes to 'spinach' or spinach-like greens, as this will add diversity to your growing and allow you to enjoy cooked wilted greens throughout the year. Chard and similar plants are often better for year-round growing, often far easier to grow than 'real' spinach but providing something that tastes very similar and provides equal levels of nutrition.
If you do decide that you would like to grow some F1 spinach types, then you will have a wide range of options to choose from. Popular varieties that do well in the UK include: Amazon, Barbados, Lazio, Palco, Reddy, Red Kitten, Red Veined, and Violin. Many of these varieties have excellent resistance to disease, while some are also less prone to bolting in warmer temperatures or less than ideal conditions, which can make them much easier to grow in a polytunnel setting.
Choosing the right varieties will make it much easier to be successful in growing greens to use in your kitchen over the coming year, so give it some thought before you choose which seeds to buy and plant in your polytunnel.