New Zealand Spinach (Heriloom)
New Zealand spinach, also known as Cook’s cabbage or tetragon, is a perennial grown as a warm-weather annual. Sow New Zealand spinach in the garden about the date of the average last frost in spring or later. It can be started indoors 2 to 3 weeks before the last frost in spring for later transplanting.
New Zealand spinach is not frost hardy like true spinach. The two plants are not related but can be used fresh or cooked in the same way. Plant New Zealand spinach in the warm part of the year when regular spinach will not grow, in temperatures ranging from 60° to 75°F.
Vitamin K 525.6 µg
Manganese 0.947 mg
Vitamin B6 0.427 mg
Vitamin C 28.8 mg
Copper 0.139 mg
Iron 1.19 mg
Vitamin B2 0.193 mg
New Zealand spinach prefers welldrained, sandy soils that are rich in organic matter, with a pH ranging from 6.8 to 7.0. However, in Utah’s typical alkaline soils, New Zealand spinach will still grow well.
Before planting, incorporate up to 4 inches of well-composted organic matter into the top 6 inches of the soil. Fertilizer should be broadcast and worked into the soil prior to seeding, at a rate of 3 lbs per 100 ft² of 10-10-10 fertilizer. If fertilizer is banded at seeding it should be placed along each side of the rows 2-3 inches below the level of the seed and 6 inches to the side of the row. Sidedress with two or more applications of 0.3 oz per 10 ft of row of 10-10- 10 fertilizer.
Seeds can be either directly sown after frost danger has passed; or they may be started inside 3-4 weeks before the last frost date, then transplanted after the danger of frost has passed. New Zealand spinach germinates slowly, but soaking the seeds in water for 24 hours before planting hastens germination. Seeds take up to 2 or 3 weeks to emerge and do not emerge uniformly. Seedlings can be transplanted when they are 1-2 inches tall.
Seeds should be planted ½ inch deep in fine soil. The soil should be kept moist until the seedlings begin to emerge. Plant in rows 3 feet apart, with seeds 2 inches apart within the row. When plants are 1-2 inches tall, thin to 12 inches apart.
Mulches help retain soil moisture and suppress weeds. Plastic is a good mulch because it can increase the soil temperature and make it possible to plant at an earlier date. Lay black plastic down in rows, covering the edges with soil, then punch holes in the plastic and plant seeds or transplant previously started plants. Grass clippings, leaves, or shredded newspaper are other mulch options.
Hot caps, plastic tunnels, and fabric covers can protect seedlings and transplants from cool air temperatures. Row covers make it possible to place plants outside before the last frost date, thereby extending the harvest season because of getting an early start.
Although the flavor is best with consistent moisture, New Zealand spinach will still do well with little water without causing plants to bolt or producing a bitter taste. New Zealand spinach is heat and drought tolerant and does well in the warm summer/fall months when regular spinach will not produce.
New Zealand spinach needs generous fertilization, otherwise it can seed early. Fertilizing monthly at the highest rate will produce the best results. Apply 3 pounds of 10-10-10 per 100 ft².