Chinese spinach is an edible plant from the Amaranth family. Also known as Red spinach, Hon-toi-moi, Yin choy, Hsien tsai or Spleen amaranth, it is a native of Asia, Europe and Africa. It may be eaten raw in thoran or cooked in curry, bhajis, stir-fry's and soups. Chinese spinach - Amaranthus dubius should not be confused with the ancient south American grains - Amaranthus caudatus, Amaranthus cruentus, and Amaranthus hypochondriacus.
|Image credit - http://julieskitchen.me/|
Chinese spinach seeds are best sown from April onwards once the threat of late frosts have passed, however it is more important to make sure that soil temperatures are averaging above 16 degrees Celsius. If you wish to sow amaranthus seed earlier then it will need to be under the protection of a small poly-tunnel. Of course, once the weather stays consistently warm the cover can be removed.
Be aware that amaranthus seeds are very small so sow them thinly into rows 12 inches apart with each row spaced up to two feet apart. Cover with a 1/4 inch of soil, firm gently, and keep moist and weed free. When they are large enough, thin the seedlings out to approximately 1 plant for every 3 inches if you are using them for baby leaf. If you are intent on producing mature plants thin them out to 8 inches apart. You can of course eat any thinnings as you would do with baby leaf salad or they can be added to stir fries.
Harvesting Chinese spinach
|Image credit - http://www.etsy.com/|
If you are using the crop for baby leaves, only pick a few leaves per plant. For mature plants, harvest leaves and stem from the top to encourage further side shoots. Remove any flowers as soon as their buds appear otherwise leaf production will come to an end.
Some edible amaranth cultivars can grow to a decent height and will need the support of canes in exposed conditions. Place the canes before the plants get to a size where the roots can become damaged by their insertion.
For related article click onto the following links:
HOW TO GROW SPINACH FROM SEED