Monday, September 9, 2013

Garden - Greens and Shade - Malabar Spinach

This post is for those readers who are interested in hearing about my gardening stories. It is always a pleasure receiving messages from readers with requests. So thanks for sending those and please look at the right side bar for subscription options. Use your favorite RSS reader, Facebook, Twitter or email subscription to receive the latest updates.

Coming to my garden. Our house backs to parkland but lucky for us when we first moved here the trees in the park were not huge. They were actually reforested tress after the builder had miscalculated and razed more trees than they should have. My privacy obsessed neighbor moved in after us and in the initial years his tiny pine trees were just starting to sprout. There was plenty of sunshine for the sun loving vegetables plants to thrive provided they escaped the hungry mouths of deers, rabbits, groundhogs and the like.

Fast forward to today, plenty of sunshine is a thing of the past. Fast growing trees in the backyard combined with the gigantic 3 story high pine trees of my neighbor sunshine in my backyard has become a dwindling commodity. So you future home buyers looking forward to having a satisfying and happy garden make sure you take all of this into account.

My requirement for a house backed to park/woods all those years ago is the major source of angst today. Combined with the trees and the shade problems is the wide array of critters and animals that make those woods their home. Deer, rabbits, ground hogs, moles, voles, fox,turtles - you name it it is probably there. Added to that the numerous bugs that visit our backyard it is even a wonder that I can grow anything at all.

I have tempered my desire for growing vegetables but it is proving very hard to give up completely. The cool shady and partial sunshine provided a perfect set of circumstances for growing peas and they did grow well. I have also resorted to growing plants in pots so they can be moved each season to the perfectly sunny spot.

I also read that the rule of thumb is in partial shady areas grown plants whose leaves are the edible parts and full sun for plants that produce vegetables. Swiss Chard, night shade, amaranth and now Malabar spinach seem to be able to grow and produce enough leaves in partial shade.

I was introduced to this spinach through a seed catalog and let me tell you they are pretty plants perfect for just ornamental purposes but as luck would have it the leaves are perfect for cooking. They are creepers and need support for climbing. The also have pretty pink flowers. I harvest the leaves along with the tender stems for cooking. Make sure to leave enough leaves closer to the root and they sprout back just as quickly.

These are heat loving plants and are perfect for the hot and humid DC summers.

A couple of these plants are enough to keep you supplied with leaves throughout its growing season.


  1. These are so very pretty! I love the taste of the leaves, too. Bummer that your garden is more a shade garden but you seem to be making the best of it!

  2. Gardening is like raising a child -- an adventure! ISG I have all faith in your ability to do both.

    btw your papdi beans have sprouted way up north! :)


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