Ceylon Spinach (Basella alba)

Written by nickcmack   // January 25, 2012   // 2 Comments

ceylon spinach in pot

You don’t need a green thumb to grow tropical spinach, it is the easiest vegetable to grow.

 

Basella alba

Ceylon spinach will grow either from a piece or from the dark purple fruit.  It thrives in a variety of moist or wet conditions and will grow all year round.  I have it growing in a bath trough in soil covered with bagasse cane mulch in full sun. It is also growing in a water soaked gravel bed in the shade house, where it self-seeds continually.

I have transplanted the young shoots into pots in a standard potting mix and these plants are thriving on the veranda in partial shade.  It does not seem to attract any pests except my chickens will peck the leaves if they can reach them. The plant does benefit from the occasional dose of all-purpose fertiliser which gives the leaves their glossy dark green colouring.

The leaves are rich in vitamins and minerals and can be continually harvested to provide fresh greens whenever needed for cooked dishes and the younger leaves for salads.  Ceylon spinach can be substituted for English spinach or silver beet in any recipe.  When preparing, wash leaves and remove the thickest stalks before chopping and blanching.  Spinach combines well with soft cheeses and pine nuts and is great tossed fresh into Asian stir fries. The dark fruit can be used to colour jellies or as a fabric dye.

For best results, harvest young plants when around 20cm high, then, cut them back to the first node. Allow the vine to keep growing and keep harvesting, pinching out the ends of the vine to make it branch and become less leggy.  The vine can be allowed to ramble along the ground but it is easier to pick the leaves if the tendrils are trained onto a trellis.

Text and photos by Kaye Cronan

 

Basella alba self sows

Basell Alba growing in a pot
Spinach growing in a pot


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Basella alba

Ceylon Spinach


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2 COMMENTS

  1. By fruit, February 25, 2012

    I grow this very easily at cape trib

    • By paulamac, March 4, 2012

      A member from Mackay branch had this growing very well in his back yard in town about 10 years ago

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