Botanical Name: Tetragonia tetragonioides
Some other names: NZ spinach, Sea spinach, Botany Bay spinach, Cook’s cabbage.
How to grow it:
Warrigal greens is a low growing perrenial which is very hardy & produces good spinach leaf crops in the warmest of weather It’s also very salt tolerant and can be grown close to the beach – in fact I’ve often spotted it growing on sand dunes at my local beaches.
It doesn’t tolerate frost, so may needed to be planted as a annual in cooler climates, but in frost free climates it will grow all year round.
It will handle full sun or shade equally well and prefers free draining soils, but it still grows in my subtropical climate’s wet season. Will hang in there with less plant growth in drought periods.
It responds well to fertilising and mulching – the leaves will get much bigger if well fed. Can tend to get a bit invasive if it’s happy, but it is also very easy to remove.
Propogation is very simple – just pull up some plants roots and all & replant them into their new position or pots, water them in and they’ll be on their way with very little care. Warrigal spinach also flowers & sets seed late in summer, and if left to, will self seed rapidly.
Grows well in pots – regular pruning prevents the plant spilling over & setting seeds in nearby pots.
I like to have a couple of patches growing in different conditions, and pick from the best one.
Leaves a good source of protein with vitamins A, B, & C, magnesium, calcium, phosphorous & potassium.
Using it in the kitchen:
Warrigal greens leaves are thought to be relatively high in oxalates, which means if you’re going to be eating a lot of them, they should be blanched & rinsed in cold water. If you go to this trouble, the leaves can be used in salads or cold dishes – very nice.
I tend to eat it without blanching in combination with lots of other leaves, and use it mostly in stir fries & omelettes – at the last minute as they wilt very readily. Could also be added to soups, curries & casseroles for it’s nutrition rather than adding any body or flavour to the meal.
A great survival food for it’s hardiness & regular supply of nutritious leaves – especially in summer when many other “spinach” plants are struggling.