If you’re looking for a year-round vegetable then Perpetual Spinach is it. I can harvest Perpetual Spinach from the same plant in all 12 months of the year.
Perpetual spinach is in fact a chard – it’s other name is Spinach Beet – but you’d hardly know it. Whereas Silverbeet and Rainbow chard have thick white or coloured stalks and thick crinkled leaves, Perpetual spinach leaves are almost flat, with slender green stems. The other chards set my teeth on edge as if I’d been eating iron filings. To me, Perpetual spinach really tastes like spinach.
It’s an easy plant to grow. Like any chard, bolting doesn’t have to spell the end of the plant and the leaves don’t turn bitter. Simply cut off the bolting stalk – even use the baby leaves – and if the plant gets enough water it will return to good behaviour as if nothing had happened.
By the end of summer a Perpetual spinach plant has a root as big as a large parsnip and if you have been harvesting regularly it will also have the beginnings of a trunk like a tree fern. Keep on harvesting. Although it does slow down in winter, Perpetual spinach will keep producing leaves unless the weather is particularly freezing.
Snails like spinach, but not so much as to pose serious competition. I grow at least 10 plants so that there’s enough to supply the kitchen at least twice a week, and the biggest headache I have is getting the baby snails back outside before they slide out of the sink and up the kitchen wall.
I am sure one could keep on harvesting into a second year, but I like to renew my plants in Spring. I sow seed in April and pull out the old plants when the new ones are nicely established. If I’m in a hurry for the planting space I’ll pack the last of the old leaves into the freezer and use that until the new leaves are big enough.
In other news, we’ve planted our onions and garlic sets. The garlic has already sprouted too. I’m trying my hand at growing onion and garlic from 2020 seed this year as well. I must get on with planting broad beans next.
Text and Images (C) Claire @theslowfix A slow food devotee, Claire is constantly searching for new ways to enable us all to live sustainably.
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