Down on the Allotment

What's happening down on the allotment? An intimate account of a passionate veggie grower.

Friday, March 27, 2009

New Zealand Spinach

I have been itching to try growing New Zealand Spinach for a number of years now and finally I bought a packet last week whilst in the USA. Not related to ordinary spinach this type (Tetragonia tetragonoides) is supposed to have been brought back from the Pacific by Captain Cook. It survives hot Summer conditions well, and you just pinch off the tops of the rambling plant and it lasts until the first frosts knock it back. I have seen it growing and I have eaten it and it tastes wonderful. But what a surprise when I opened the packet to see what the seeds looked like!! From the appearance of these seeds I guess that this is not related to the spinach / beet family that we are familiar with here in the UK. Normally a spinach or beet seed is actually 3 or 4 seeds fused in a corky layer. Some monogerm varieties have only one seed per seed. Does anyone know what happens here with New Zealand spinach? Are these strange winged pods actually containing multiple numbers of seeds? or will I get one plant out of each? Answers please.

16 Comments:

At 8:08 PM, Blogger Magic Cochin said...

I think I'd be puzzled too...

this is when botanical latin comes in useful:

Spinach: Spinacia oleracea
Spinach Beet: Beta vulgaris
both of these are in the amaranth family.

New Zealand Spinach: Tetragonia tetragonioides (ice plant family, includes many succulents with fleshy leaves)

;-) C

 
At 11:59 PM, Anonymous Karen said...

No help here, as I'd never even heard of it. Maybe you could email Territorial if you don't get any bites here? Good luck, those sure do look wacky!

 
At 1:30 AM, Blogger Dan said...

New Zealand Spinach has been popping up in a lot of books I have been reading. I am not sure if they are seeds or seed pods you have but it is not part of the amaranth family. My best guess would be they are individual seeds. They are suppose to be very heat tolerant, please keep us posted on the taste.

 
At 11:44 AM, Blogger Carrie said...

Wow, I love seeds, especially love opening packets and seeing a new type for the first time. I have NO idea what these are - 1 or 3 in a pod? But they are great looking - lovely pic.

 
At 12:25 PM, Anonymous easygardener said...

I haven't grown it for a while but I seem to remember that germination can be slow. Do you have to soak the seeds?
I think all my plants got eaten at an early stage so I can't comment on the taste!

 
At 4:16 AM, Blogger Bren said...

I am not sure about those seeds but I love your garden experience you share on your wonderful blog. Can't wait to stop back soon.
Happy Spring.

 
At 4:13 PM, Anonymous kitsapfg said...

Not grown this before but a good friend of mine did - and I recall she was overwhelmed with production from just a small seeding. She was very happy with this plant though and felt it was a nice addition to the food production garden.

 
At 9:38 PM, Anonymous ChickenLover said...

Try contacting mytinyplot.co.uk - she grows New Zealand spinach

 
At 9:27 AM, Blogger Nutty Gnome said...

Whoah, those are odd looking seeds! Never heard of New Zealand spinach before! I hope they taste good - I just love spinach, but have only grow spinach beet or chard. I hope you let us know how you get on with it - and how it tastes!

Thanks too for some great posts - I've just been enjoying catching up on all your exploits!

 
At 10:25 AM, Blogger Maggie said...

We grow Warrigal or New Zealand spinach here in Australia.
It grows really easily from a cutting and once you have it in your garden it always reappears. I have not grown it from seed but I do know some gardeners who have not been able to grow it from seed. It is higher in oxalic acid than silverbeet or spinach so it is recommended that you cook it for 2 minutes then throw the cooking liquid out.
It's frustrating blogging sometimes because you just want to say come round I have some growing.

 
At 2:43 AM, Blogger Carol said...

I've got NZ spinach (maori name - kokihi) in my garden (in NZ!) - those are single seeds you have there, and when the runners are long and leggy they start sprouting those off the side again. I planted mine for a packet but have just harvested seeds from the plant, will try planting them again later on this year.
If I remember correctly, I put them in the fridge for 24 hours before I planted them - I think a book told me to do that, and I always do what I'm told...
The leaves are great, much fleshier than ordinary spinach so hold their volume better when they are cooked. Not good raw though.
I blogged about mine here.

 
At 12:40 PM, Blogger Joe Pulkowski said...

In Jim Crockett's Victory Garden, he says to lightly sand/scrape one side of the seed, then soak over night, then plant. Sprouts in 10 days.

 
At 3:12 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I have been growing this for years when a neighbor gave me some small plants. It is a vigorous grower in the new jersey shore area of the USA. We eat it cooked and raw and love it both ways. I grow it in half wine barrels next to my deck where it get sun for a little over half the day.

I was very excited to see what the seeds looked like as I have been letting it volunteer plants which I transplant into my barrels. I suspected the seeds form in the little flower buds that form at the base of the leaves but I had never tried harvesting them. this year I will.

Plant some. you will enjoy it greatly.
Linda R.

 
At 1:05 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Like your informative blog. I live in Scoltand but as a child in Kenya my mother grew what I now know as New Zealnd spinach tetragonia tetragoniodes. Do you know where I can buy the seeds in UK?

 
At 5:26 PM, Blogger Matron said...

Anonymous - I had been looking for ages for seed, I bought these in the USA this Spring. They have self seeded like mad though, and I have tons left over if you'd like to email me with your particulars I'd be more than happy to send you some. xx

 
At 6:12 PM, Anonymous Janet Ann said...

A friend from New Zealand sent me some of these seeds and I was researching online how to best grow them. When the first reference I found said that the "seeds" are really fruits then I did a Google image search and your delightful blog came up. I will try soaking them overnight and then sprouting them indoors in an AeroGarden. I have grown Amaranth and many of its cousins indoors in water for several years and love being able to harvest the nice clean organic leaves right in my own kitchen to add to a salad, soup, stir fry, or veggie tea. Thanks for the great photo!

 

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