There are no two ways about it; the Strawberry spinach plant (Chenopodium capitatum) is one cool plant! For one thing, the entire plant is edible, and how often does that happen? For another, the foliage and resulting berries make for a feast on the eyes as well as the palate. Referred to as heirloom spinach, this info is not precisely correct. So what is it then?
Strawberry Heirloom Spinach Info
These plants are not the same asÂ spinach (Spinacia oleracea), but they are in the same family of Chenopodium or goosefoot, which includes spinach, Swiss chard,Â beets and more. Strawberry spinach tolerates heat much better than the ordinary leafy vegetable and can be used in lieu of spinach in recipes.
It is a centuries old plant, most commonly used in Europe and by the Native Americans. It is indigenous to most of North America and can be found in areas of Europe and New Zealand. Strawberry spinach use had been on the decline, but more recently is enjoying a resurgence due to an interest in subsistence gardening.
Plants attain a size of about 2 feet with serrated leaves that are tender when young, but become tougher as they age. The tall stems bare gorgeous red berries that look nothing like strawberries! Really, the only connection is in their strawberry coloration but, otherwise, they look more akin to raspberries – at least to mea anyway. I haven’t tasted one (though I really want to!) but some accounts say the berries are lack luster in flavor while others declare it to be a sweet, juicy, delicious fruit tasting like Malto Meal”¦sweet and nutty. Really! Apparently, they are great in salads or as a fresh snack right off the plant. I wonder if they would be good preserved? Hmm”¦.
The berries can and have been used as a dye, lending it the name of Indian Ink as well as Strawberry Blite, Strawberry Goosefoot and Beetberry. I don’t know about you, but this plant has me pretty excited and I would like to know more about growing Strawberry spinach.
Strawberry Spinach Growing
This plant is an annual, although its habit is that of a perennial and will, in fact, overwinter in climates with mild winters. Seeds for this plant can be obtained by a number of online seed purveyors. Sow seed outdoors in mid to late spring in moist soil and full sun exposure, 1/8 inch deep. Seedlings will emerge in 5-10 days.
Once established, you can pretty much ignore Strawberry spinach, except when you wish to harvest the tender leaves or vibrant berries. It has a long taproot, so it can subsist on minimal water; however, the more the water, the larger the fruit.
It does self-sow, so be aware that it can be somewhat invasive, but other than that, this is an easy to grow, stunning edible to add to the sustenance garden, or any garden for that matter.