Friday, August 20, 2010
Red Stem Malabar Spinach
A red stemmed cultivar of malabar spinach, it can be grown just like it's green stemmed counterpart. Malabar spinach is in the Basellaceae family, not the spinach family. The taste is similar to spinach. Malabar spinach is grown in Far Eastern countries for the shoots and leaves of the plant. It is a tender and fast growing, climbing tropical vine; growing up to 12 feet tall. This variety has a red stem, dark green leaves in thick heart-shaped; the species is called Basella alba rubra. It is also called Ceylon spinach, Vietnamese Spinach (Mong Toi), Indian Spinach, Emperor Vegetable. It is attractive plant treated as an ornamental vine too.
How to grow
Seeds have hard coating and it is suggested to soak seeds in water overnight or the seed skin be scratched before planting. Sow the seed directly on the soil and cover with thin layer of soil.
The plant is almost insect-free and is very easy to grow.
Full sun / light shade; plant outdoors after last expected frost.
It can be grown as a spring-sown annual. Tolerates high rainfall and is extremely heat tolerant; soil pH 6.1 to 6.5.
The soil must be rich and well drained.
Late spring to early summer
Only the leaves and young stems are eaten; they are used in salads or steamed with tofu and ginger. The taste is similar to spinach. It is usually cooked with noodles or soup, stir-fried. They have succulent mucilage (a thick gluey substance produced by most plants) that is uses as a thickener in soups or stews. In Japan, it is cooked in tempura or braised and topped with a sesame dressing.
High in vitamin A, vitamin C, iron, and calcium; also a good source of chlorophyll and dietary fiber.