New Zealand spinach can take the heat

New Zealand spinach, planted in a shallow container, was another of my successful garden-grown experiments.

new-zealand-spinach-blogYesterday I wrote about the good luck I had growing green beans in a large container. The New Zealand spinach (Tetragonia) seeds I planted also did well even though they were planted in a narrow, shallow plastic container.

New Zealand spinach is an old heirloom plant introduced to England in the late 1700s.  Even though it’s called “spinach” it’s not a true spinach.  The seeds are large and look a little like dull burrs found on a puncturevine.

The leaves are a bit thicker than the spinach we usually grow or buy at the grocery store. However, the taste is similar and can be cooked like other spinach. I’ve tried it raw, but others might not like its wild taste.

The advantage to New Zealand spinach is that it can take the heat. The spinach growing in the container on my patio hasn’t bolted or turned bitter as the temperatures have heated up. If anything, it’s simply produced more leaves, especially if I keep them picked. Shoots grow back if I harvest the top few inches of stems and leaves.

Gardeners can enjoy fresh, home-grown spinach the entire growing season if they’re smart about planting. Conventional spinach can be planted early in the spring when the weather is still cool and then again late in the season. New Zealand spinach seeds can be planted when the weather is warmer and grown all summer until the first frost.

This recipe for Aussie Alfredo with Warrigal (New Zealand spinach) greens, calls for the greens to be blanched before using in the pasta sauce.

If you have a favorite way to prepare New Zealand spinach, please share it here.


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