Since I commenced my exploration of the never-boring world of edible gardening, I have struggled to find a green vegetable that replaces spinach (which refuses to grow well here. It beats me!).
Silverbeet is an acceptable alternative but I can’t bring myself to like the taste at all. So I kept looking for that spinach-like plant that would taste good and that would tolerate growing in average soils, in the heat and in the shade. Well I found it!
Please meet Okinawa Spinach, a member of the chrysanthemum family, native to Asia. It has striking green and purple leaves that once cooked have a rather nutty flavour reminiscent to pine nuts. It grows well from cuttings but it is slow to take. Once it has taken up though, it produces an abundance of large leaves that can be lightly sautéed or steamed.
Okinawa Spinach is a perennial plant. So you only have to plant it once. I had two specimen growing simultaneously here at the farm… just to try out: one was planted in the shade, in rich but excessively free draining soils in the top garden, and one was planted in full sun in an irrigated bed in our bottom veggie patch. The one in the shade thrives. The one in the sun withered.