The Walden Effect: Farming, simple living, permaculture, and invention.

Malabar spinach

Malabar spinachI was interested to see so many comments on my post about eating amaranth leaves, especially Nita's suggestion of Orach as an alternative.  We may try Orach next year, but in the meantime I should report on the other summer green we experimented with in 2013 --- Malabar Spinach.  (Thanks for the seeds, Shannon!)

Malabar spinach is a lot like amaranth in that I think it could slip into an urban homestead's ornamental flower garden without raising eyebrows.  The flavor is superior to amaranth, in my opinion, being very spinachy and mild (acceptable even for salads).

The main problem with turning Malabar spinach into a main crop is that the plant is a vigorous vine, so we'd have to provide a trellis.  The one pictured here grew sideways until it was able to take over the stake I'd put in the ground beside our baby Issai kiwi, then headed straight up.

I was quite content with Swiss chard being our sole summer green until three years ago when blister beetles showed up.  Ever since, these night-time nibblers have turned my Swiss chard into a mess of holes and frass, with only the youngest leaves available for eating.  Maybe I should be focusing on blister beetle control, not looking for a replacement summer green?

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About us: Anna Hess and Mark Hamilton spent over a decade living self-sufficiently in the mountains of Virginia before moving north to start over from scratch in the foothills of Ohio. They've experimented with permaculture, no-till gardening, trailersteading, home-based microbusinesses and much more, writing about their adventures in both blogs and books.

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I love growing this stuff. Here in Japan they call it "Tsuru Murasaki" lit. Purple Vine. It is by far my favorite summer green.

I would grow it as an addition to but not a replacement for my beloved chard.

Comment by Eric in Japan Sun Sep 15 19:44:56 2013
This was my second summer growing malabar spinach (NW Arkansas, zone 6b/7) and it is freakishly drought tolerant, going through a month of 95 degree days without a drop of rain or irrigation and showing no signs of pain. Watch out for reseeding, though. This spring I didn't find seedlings anywhere outside of the bed where I had had it planted, but the patch did quadruple in size.
Comment by Sweetgum Mon Sep 16 14:40:04 2013

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