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How to Plant, Grow, and Harvest New Zealand Spinach

New Zealand spinach grow in garden

New Zealand spinach is a perennial grown as a warm-weather annual. Plant New Zealand spinach in the warm part of the year when regular spinach will not grow. The two plants are not related but can be used fresh or cooked in the same way.

Here is your complete guide to growing New Zealand spinach!

New Zealand Quick Growing Tips

  • Sow New Zealand spinach in the garden about the date of the average last frost in spring or later.
  • It can be started indoors 2 to 3 weeks before the last frost in spring for later transplanting.
  • New Zealand spinach yield: grow one or two New Zealand spinach plants per household member.

Young New Zealand spinach
Sow New Zealand spinach in the garden about the date of the average last frost in spring or later.

Where to Plant New Zealand Spinach

  • Plant New Zealand spinach in full sun. New Zealand spinach prefers moisture-retentive, well-drained soil rich in organic matter.
  • New Zealand spinach is weak-stemmed and will appear to trail across the garden.
  • Set plants in hills similar to squash.
  • New Zealand spinach prefers a soil pH of 6.8 to 7.0.
  • Prepare planting beds with well-aged compost.
  • Where summer heat is intense, plant New Zealand spinach where it will get partial shade in the afternoon.

New Zealand Spinach Planting Time

  • New Zealand spinach grows best as a warm-weather annual in temperatures ranging from 60° to 75° F (16-24° C).
  • Sow New Zealand spinach in the garden about the date of the average last frost in spring or later. Start New Zealand spinach indoors 2 to 3 weeks before the last frost in spring for later transplanting.
  • New Zealand spinach is not frost-hardy like true spinach. Plant New Zealand spinach in the warm part of the year when regular spinach will not grow.
  • New Zealand spinach is drought tolerant but the leaves will not be as tender.
  • New Zealand spinach requires 55 to 65 days to reach harvest.

Planting and Spacing New Zealand Spinach

  • Sow New Zealand spinach ½ inch (12mm) deep and 2 to 4 inches (5-10cm) apart.
  • New Zealand spinach grows from seed clusters that produce several seedlings, similar to beet seed.
  • Soak seeds overnight in water to speed germination.
  • When seedlings are 3 inches (7cm) tall, thin to the strongest seedlings, from 12 to 18 inches (30-45cm) apart.
  • Set New Zealand spinach in hills similar to squash. This will allow the weak stem to sprawl.
  • Space hills or rows 24 to 36 inches (61-91cm) apart.

New Zealand Spinach Companion Plants

  • Grow New Zealand spinach with strawberries.
  • Avoid planting New Zealand spinach in the shade of tall plants such as corn or pole beans.

Container Growing New Zealand Spinach

  • New Zealand spinach will grow well in containers.
  • Grow two plants in a 5-gallon (19 liters) pot.
New Zealand spinach plants
New Zealand spinach is drought tolerant but tastes best when the soil is kept evenly moist.

Water and Feeding New Zealand Spinach

  • Keep New Zealand spinach evenly moist; water regularly for rapid, full growth. Do not let the soil dry out.
  • New Zealand spinach is drought tolerant once established but leaves will not be as tender or flavorful.
  • Mulch to retain soil moisture.
  • Prepare planting beds with aged compost.
  • Side dress plants with aged compost at midseason.

New Zealand Spinach Pests and Diseases

  • New Zealand spinach has no serious pest problems.
  • New Zealand spinach has no serious disease problems.

New Zealand spinach leavesHarvesting New Zealand Spinach

  • New Zealand spinach will be ready for harvest 55 to 65 days after sowing.
  • Cut young leaves and tender leaf tips for the best flavor.
  • This cut-and-come-again harvest will encourage new growth and longer harvest.

Storing New Zealand Spinach

  • New Zealand spinach will keep in the refrigerator for up to one week.
  • New Zealand spinach can be frozen canned or dried.

New Zealand Spinach Varieties

  • ‘Maori’ is the most commonly grown variety.

About New Zealand Spinach

  • Description. New Zealand spinach is a perennial vegetable grown as a tender annual. It is a low-growing, weak-stemmed leafy plant that can spread several feet wide and grow to one foot tall. It has succulent, triangular- to oval-shaped leaves that are pale to dark green and grow from 2 to 4 inches (5-10cm) long. The leaves of New Zealand spinach are smaller and fuzzier than those of regular spinach. New Zealand spinach has small yellow flowers and conical capsules.
  • Common name. New Zealand spinach
  • Botanical name. Tetragonia tetragoniodes
  • Origin. New Zealand

Grow 80 vegetables: THE KITCHEN GARDEN GROWERS’ GUIDE

Written by Stephen Albert

Stephen Albert is a horticulturist, master gardener, and certified nurseryman who has taught at the University of California for more than 25 years. He holds graduate degrees from the University of California and the University of Iowa. His books include Vegetable Garden Grower’s Guide, Vegetable Garden Almanac & Planner, Tomato Grower’s Answer Book, and Kitchen Garden Grower’s Guide. His Vegetable Garden Grower’s Masterclass is available online. Harvesttotable.com has more than 10 million visitors each year.

Comments

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  1. I grew New Zealand Spinach last year in boxes as I am short on ground space. All of the plants came up beautifully. I had the Spinach all summer with morning sun afternoon shade. I ate it raw in my morning smoothies. I soaked the seeds over night and them planted them the next day. I had no problems with any part of the whole process. I planted more this year and everything looks good. Thank you Steve and all commenters as I learned a lot more about growing this Spinach. Thank you to Cynthia Shipman for the tip on what to do before adding it to a smoothie. Will do next time.

  2. My grandparents had a big patch of New Zealand spinach growing wild in their backyard in Claremont California this is an inland valley that does freeze during the winter but the spinach always did great. I do see it growing wild along the coastal beach now in central California with no water under the shade of an eucalyptus tree and in full sun along the beach.

    You can eat it raw with lemon juice or vinegar until wilted witch releases the oxalic acid. Mash first under running, let wilt with lemon or add calcium carbonate to smoothie Us old folks remember the hot bacon dressing at salad bars which release the oxalic acid.
    Growing with high nitrogen and ammonia reduces oxylates.

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