By Jannie Vaught,
Orach, Atriplex hortensis also known as Mountain spinach, Red Orach, or French spinach or Sea purslane, saltbush, is a distant cousin to spinach. A cool-season plant is a warm-season alternative to spinach. Touted as an alternative due to its lasting in heat and not bolting as spinach does, giving a longer time to harvest. Here’s more on this ancient now becoming a popular plant. This plant is in the Amaranth family used as a leaf vegetable before spinach came along in popular use. Another name is Goosefoot as the leaves resemble the foot of a goose and saltbush as it tolerates alkaline and saline soils. A hardy annual herb growing to 72 inches in height and with a slight mineral flavor to a hint of fennel. They range in colors from brilliant magenta to chartreuse. Plant in early spring in the ground when the seedlings are about 6 inches tall thin to 12 to 18 inches apart. This is also grown as a micro green, used as a soup and salad green. The leaves are a bit thicker than spinach. This plant has become popular now due to the nutrient-dense quality and ability to last longer in heat. And is now being seen in grocery, farmers markets as an alternative to kale. I have grown this plant for several years and find it outdistances kale and spinach for a continuous garden harvest when the others are simply bolted and tough.
It stands alone for this gardener as “Gotta Grow This”! I find the taste and texture excellent, when it gets older it’s used in stir fry and soup. You will find this plant reseeds its self being in the amaranth family and makes a tall very dense seeded stalk. It will disperse seeds into wild areas with bare questionable soil that has no irrigation and still thrives. A plant that you will see scattered, especially due to its bright colors. This plant is good to grow in zones 4 through 9! What is making this a much sought after plant is its mineral-packed nutrient-dense quality. Good for digestion and full of potassium for good hearth health. And being we are experiencing a cooler rainy spring into summer you may find planting some Orach even now a success.
I do season trials with most new to me plants and find some success and some fail. As with all gardening it is all in the experimenting. Check out this hardy plant and do your own research and trials you may find Orach a good addition to your growing garden.
Growing green with Jannie