New Zealand Spinach

50-70 days. Also known as Tetragonia, this heat-loving New Zealand native was discovered by Captain Cook in the 1770s. He developed its culinary uses to help ward off scurvy. Not really a Spinach at all, it tastes like Spinach and can be cooked in much the same way as Spinach. This is key since it can be used as a substitute for Spinach during the high heat of summer when the real Spinach tends to overheat and bolt. A bit finicky to get started but easy to grow once it germinates, its thick, bright green, 4" triangular leaves thrive in hot weather without becoming bitter. Presoak its irregularly shaped seeds in room temperature water overnight before direct-sowing it in the garden after the threat of frost has passed. Once it sprouts, New Zealand Spinach is easy to grow right up until the first fall frost. (OP.)

Average seed life: 1 year.

One packet of about 100 seeds
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Spinach prefers the cool, sunny weather of late spring and early fall. Direct-sow Spinach in the spring once the threat of frost has passed, and in late summer for fall harvest. Spinach adores rich soil: amend the Spinach bed well with compost and/or manure, dolomite lime and complete organic fertilizer. Keep the bed evenly moist and weeded. Early thinnings are wonderful for spring salads. For the kitchen gardener, it is practical to harvest by using the outer leaves from each plant or by cutting the whole plant, leaving 1" for possible regrowth. Or, broadcast seed and grow as a cut-and-come-again crop of tender leaves. If you simply must have Spinach during summer's dog days, plant the seed deeper, provide partial shade and water copiously. Convert everyone you know into Spinach-lovers with Carole Peck's Baked Penne Pasta with Lobster and Spinach and The Culinary Institute of America at Greystone's Spinach and Caramelized Onion Soufflé.

Average seed life: 2 years.
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