Are you trying to grow Malabar spinach? Are you searching for a vegetable that will grow in the shade and is an excellent substitute for spinach! Then you are at the right place! Growing malabar spinach that too in pots is an effortless task and requires little effort
First of all, don’t get confused with the looks of the plant; Malabar spinach doesn’t resemble the regular spinach and has its roots in India’s Malabar region. The foliage of the plant resembles the spinach, which is why the name Malabar spinach.
The plant is a member of the Basellacease family and is also known as climbing spinach, bratana, libato, Ceylon spinach, trapadora, acelga, vine spinach, etc.
Basella alba has green leaves, and the B. Rubra has a red lead that has purplish stems. Now the question that arises is what Malabar spinach is precisely? And how can we grow them in our house!
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What is exactly is Malabar spinach?
The Malabar spinach plant grows throughout India’s tropical parts, especially the area that has moist lowlands. The plants’ dark green leaves resemble the spinach, but it grows in the same manner as a vine plant grows.
The plant thrives in hot temperatures, basically above 32 Celsius. The plant grows annually but only in the frost-free regions.
Once cooked, it tastes like spinach, so in other words, Malabar spinach a fast-growing vine that has edible leaves and omit a spinach-like smell when they are crushed. The spinach can be of two types of pale green as well as red-stemmed.
Mind you! This vine needs a lot of support and plenty of room to grow. Growing malabar spinach is easy as you have to plant the seeds in the ground or pots, all you need is a support of a trellis, and the plant will grow effortlessly. If you are trying to grow it in your balcony, just put the plants against the wall.
The leaves of Malabar are in dark green and have a shape of the heart. The appearance of the leaves is slightly glossy. Even though spinach does turn bitter during the summer, Malabar spinach is thriving and tastes the way they always do. The leaves of the spinach are thicker and have a mild taste of pepper and citrus. The younger leaves of the Malabar spinach are tender in texture and have a tender flavour.
Growing Malabar Spinach
The best time of planting the Malabar spinach is when the spring has begun, and the weather has started to warm up. If you plan to grow the plant indoors, then sow the seeds for about 6-8 weeks before the last frost is predicted. You can grow this plant any time of the year, be it warm of mild winters.
Growing Malabar spinach by using the seeds
- Strew the seeds, and they should be ¼” deep
- The seeds of Malabar spinach usually began to germinate in between 10 to 20 days
- During the summer season, the seeds will grow faster.
- Once the seeds have germinated, thin the weak seedlings and then transplant the stronger ones in the desired area only after identifying the true leaves.
- Tip: -if you want the seeds to germinate faster, then soak them in water overnight and then plant them.
Check this article on Growing Artichokes in Container
Growing Malabar Spinach From Cuttings
Growing Malabar spinach from the cuttings is the easiest thing to do. All you need is a: –
- Cutting from the plant which is 5-6 inches long and has been cut below the node
- Once the cutting is ready, plant it in the place where you want it to grow. Just make sure that it is a well-drained soil
- In about two weeks, the roots will emerge, and the plant will start to grow.
Growing Malabar Spinach in pots
To grow Malabar spinach in pots, here are few things that you need to keep in mind.
- Malabar spinach is one of those vegetables which easily grow in the shade. During the summers, you can grow the plant in direct sunlight. Just make sure that the plant is getting sunshine for about 4 to 5 hours as its ideal for growth.
- During the winters or cold climate, position the plant in a spot that receives sunlight. Choose the warmest part of your garden, balcony, or patio and place the plant there.
Using the proper amount of soil
- While growing the Malabar spinach, keep in mind that this plant requires well-drained soil that has neutral pH. Add about 20% of aged manure or compost in the soil to improve the soil’s texture and richness.
- To achieve the best homemade potting mix, add about 2 part sterilized garden soil, 1 part of compost, and 1 part of peat moss or coco peat.
Fertilizer for your plant
- If you have used compost to enrich the soil, you don’t require any supplemental feeding, but if you haven’t, then use balanced liquid fertilizer once in 4 to 8 weeks, in a frail dose.
Watering the plant
- Please keep in mind that you have to water the plant frequently and regularly so that the soil is moist. The steps of Growing Malabar spinach require you to keep the soil evenly moist.
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Give proper support to the plants
- Malabar spinach is a vigorous climber and needs vertical support. So, attach a trellis or twine to the top of the plant so that it grows easily. The average length of Malabar spinach is about 10 to 15 feet.
Flowers and fruits of Malabar spinach
- The Malabar spinach has deep purple berries as fruits. The juices of these berries are used as a dye and as a food colouring in the Asian countries. So, while taking care of the plant, make sure that you are keeping yourself away from the berries’ juice they can permanently stain the cloth.
Tips that you need to keep in mind while growing Malabar spinach
Malabar spinach is sensitive to environmental changes. While you are growing Malabar spinach, make sure that you are giving through attention to it as it will offer a lot of challenges. Follow the mentioned below tips, and you will have a good harvest.
- Always choose a pot that has a depth of about 12 to 16 inches.
- During the fall season, use dead plants as compost. This will limit the reseeding of the plant.
- Give enough amount of compost and aged manure to the plant so that it receives proper nutrition.
- If you notice that something is wrong with the growth of the plant, use a liquid fertilizer.
- Always clip the buds before they began to flower. The buds affect the taste of the leaves.
Problems you may face while growing Malabar spinach
This plant is very resilient and can quickly grow in the summer heat. During the warmer seasons, the spinach can come back and start growing itself. But during the colder seasons, the plant might end up facing a growth slowdown and, instead of growing, may start to flower the burgundy buds.
The Frost Tolerance of the plant
Since Malabar spinach is a tropical plant, it just doesn’t get along with cold weather and frost. The growing period of the plant ends when the cold begins. If you reside in the areas that don’t frost, then this plant can easily turn into a perennial and start to grow back every year.
Pruning while growing Malabar spinach
To prune the Malabar spinach, you have to cut the leaves, thick and fleshy. While doing so, retain some stems too, start to pick up the buds, especially the ones which flower lately, so they don’t affect the leaves’ flavor. Make sure that you have minimized the flowering and also keep the soil moist throughout.
Keep the pest under control
While growing Malabar spinach, make sure that you are taking care of plant bugs, leafminers, nematodes. Always scout the plant and monitor the population and keep the infestation of insects under control.
Let us take a roundup! While growing Malabar spinach, keep these things in mind
- Always clip the leaves as per your kitchen requirements.
- Continuously harvest the plant as per your kitchen needs.
- You can always harvest the fully ripened the seeds.
- The best flavor will come from young stems and leaves.
- Use fresh leaves as they always taste the best.
Why should you grow Malabar spinach
Malabar spinach is a versatile plant and can be used for many dishes like coconut-based curries, utan, etc. the spinach also goes well with clams, prawns, dried fish, horse gram, etc. Malabar spinach leaves are used for also cooking fitters/pakoras in India.
Nutritional value of Malabar spinach
Malabar spinach is very nutritional. In totality, it has about 19 calories, which is further divided into 3.4 grams of carbohydrates, 0.3grams of fat, and about 1.8 grams of proteins. The spinach is also very rich in Vitamin B6, Vitamin C, Vitamin A, Riboflavin, Niacin. It has a very high mineral composition of zinc: potassium, Phosphorus, Iron, and calcium.
Few other reasons as to why you should be growing Malabar spinach
- Malabar spinach, if chewed raw, can treat mouth ulcers.
- People who have dark spots can mix Malabar spinach’s juice with one teaspoon of turmeric and apply it on the face.
- The decoction of Malabar leaves is known for relieving constipation in pregnant women and children.
- Leaves of crushed Malabar spinach are applied locally for treating pimples, boils, snakebites, scalds, wounds, bruised, inflammation, and burning sensation.
- Because of it being high in vitamin b6, iron, and calcium, Malabar spinach, if taken regularly, helps in preventing the degeneration of bones as well as iron deficiency anaemia in the body
- Consumption of Malabar leaf juice is very beneficial in fluid retention caused By diuretic action.
- The decoction of the roots of Malabar spinach is known as for reliving bilious vomiting
- A thick viscid liquid obtained from the leaves and stalks of Malabar spinach is known for reliving a chronic headache if applied over the headache.
- A mixture of cheese and crushed Malabar spinach leaves is used for applying on burns
- The leaves of Malabar spinach are used for treating hypertension
- The crushed leaves of Malabar spinach, if applied for half an hour before taking a head bath, is known for inducing sound sleep
- The roots of the Malabar spinach in paste form is spread on swellings and reliving the inflammation
- If the fresh juice of leaves alongside the sugar candy is used for treating the inflammation of the mucus membrane of the airways
- The cooked roots of Malabar spinach are known for treating diarrhoea
Health Benefits of Malabar Spinach are
- The Malabar spinach is an anti-aging agent
- The antioxidants present in Malabar spinach as beta- carotene. Zeaxanthin and lutein helps in preventing the aging process by protecting the cell damage caused by free radicals
- It works as a Gastroprotective
- The mucilage content present in the leaves helps in smoothening digestion and prevent the absorption of cholesterol and also helps in evacuating stools easily
- The Malabar spinach is rich in vitamin A
- Since the Malabar spinach is rich in vitamins, a is excellent for vision and improves the body’s immunity and maintains the health, mucus membrane, and skin.
- The Malabar spinach is excellent for treating anemia.
- If Malabar spinach is eaten regularly, they work in preventing iron deficiency, also known as anemia. The body uses the iron content in the spinach for producing red blood cells
- Malabar spinach is used for treating Renal Calculi
- The Malabar spinach is used for treating calcium oxalate stones. A study has concluded that Malabar spinach can quickly reduce the stone’s size and help eliminate the stone from the urinary tract.
Malabar spinach is loved by south Asians and is used in many dishes and treats a lot of issues locally. Growing Malabar spinach is very easy; you just have to keep things in place, and your plant will be with you forever. Just make sure that you are giving enough sunlight, water, and food to the plant.