If you are a plant lover who wanted to grow your own veggies but do not have enough space, perpetual spinach is a boon for you. You can easily grow this plant in the containers within the small place and you can enjoy the crop throughout the year irrespective of the seasonal changes. The leaves and stalks of these plants are loaded with lot of nutrients and have several health benefits.
What is Perpetual Spinach?
Perpetual Spinach is not actually spinach, but a type of Chard. It looks like spinach. It belongs to beet family (Chenopodiaceae family) therefore it is often known as Spanish beet or Leaf beet.
Perpetual spinach is also known as Swiss Chard Silver beet, Crab beet, and mangold. Stalks of this plant can be seen red or white along with large dark green leaves.
Perpetual spinach comes in various varieties. Leaf stalks are of different colors like white, pink, red and silver. The major varieties include Bright lights, Bright Yellow, Lucullus, Ford hook giant, Rhubarb chard, Rhubarb red, Ruby.
The different varieties of perpetual spinach with various stem colors bunched together are known as Rainbow chards due to their bright stem colors. Rainbow chards make salads more colorful and interesting.
This plant is considered as the best substitute of spinach during summer when availability of most leafy vegetables is low.
Also Read: Will Spinach Regrow After Cutting?
Is Perpetual Spinach Perineal?
Many people think that it is perineal, but perpetual spinach is a Biennial. It appears to be perineal because it is long lasting, produces healthy leaves throughout the year even during the hot summer and goes to seeding in the second year while the common spinach goes to seeding during hot summer and barely produces leaves.
How to Grow Perpetual Spinach?
Growing perpetual spinach is easy, but requires frequent trimming, cutting, or harvesting. Trimming regularly gives the chance to produce younger leaves which are great in flavour than older leaves. Now let us see the best climate condition for growing perpetual spinach.
This plant is frost tolerant. This plant grows well even in the toughest winter while other plants get scrambled.
You can extend the season of the crop and obtain good quality winter crop by sowing the seeds in the month of August or September.
This crop continues throughout the winter, summer, and autumn and even in the following year.
Unlike the true spinach perpetual spinach does not bolt in the first year (the process of formation of flowers to produce seeds) of the summer. The flowering starts during the second year in perpetual spinach. The production of leaves reduces once the flowering starts. So, pick the flower heads regularly to encourage the growth of new leaves instead of flowers.
Perpetual spinach grows in most places but grows well in the rich soil with good organic matter and proper drainage. Adding manure, compost and fertilizers boosts the growth of the plant. Most soils in the Utah are suitable for the perpetual spinach production.
- Select the shady place in your garden to sow the seeds.
- Now sow the seeds 2.5 cm deep into the soil.
- The ideal temperature for germination of the seeds is 40 to 70.
- It takes 17 – 14 days to produce seedlings.
- This plant can be transplanted into other containers or ground when the seedling has 6 – 10 leaves.
- Plant seedlings to 2 to 3 inches apart in a row and maintain the distance of 12 inches between each row.
- After 4 weeks of transplanting apply ¼ cup of nitrogen-based fertilizer per 10 feet of row to encourage rapid leaf growth.
- Fertilizer should be applied on the sides of the plant and irrigated into the soil.
- Water requirement depends on the type of soil and temperature.
- Make sure the soil is moist all the time, especially in the dry seasons. This crop needs enough water to produce healthy leaves more quickly.
- Mulching around the plant preserves moisture of the soil and minimises the growth of weeds.
Also Read: How to Grow Spinach in a Pot?
How to Mulch to Conserve Soil moisture?
Mulch is the layer of material applied to the surface of the soil. Different types of organic mulches can be used like shredded or chipped bark of the trees, grass clippings, Straw or Hay, News Papers.
Benefits of Mulching:
- Helps to retain moisture in the soil.
- Supress the weeds.
- Keep the soil cool.
- Improve soil structure.
- Improves nutrient holding capacity as they decompose.
How to Avoid Pests and Diseases?
These Plants in general are not prone to any pests. But occasionally they get affected by Aphids, Slugs and Snails.
Birds may eat seedlings so take proper precautions by covering the seedlings with nets.
Your plant is affected with Aphids if you identify crinkled or curled leaves with Green or black soft bodied insects under the leaves.
To control aphids, use insecticidal soaps or appropriate insecticides. For home gardeners it is recommended to discard the infested leaves instead of spraying the insecticides.
The slugs are soft bodied or shelled Molluscans which chew the leaves of the plant. Your plant is affected with slugs if you identify holes in the leaves.
To control slugs, use appropriate pesticides or traps.
Beetles are black coloured organisms which may kill the seedlings of Perpetual spinach. Small Flea Beetles feed on seedlings, and adult beetles feed on cotyledons and leaves.
To control beetles, use appropriate insecticides when seedlings start to emerge from the soil. Use floating row crop cover that acts as an insect barrier. Floating row cap covers are easily available online or in the nurseries.
For home gardeners it is recommended to simply discard the infested leaves and wait until the new disease-free leaves emerge.
How to Harvest Perpetual Spinach?
Harvesting the outer older leaves first helps the plant to produce new leaves throughout the season. Doing this also avoids the damage to the terminal bud at the centre of the plant.
Younger leaves are more flavoured than the older leaves. The older leaves give slight earthen taste. So, the more you pick the older leaves the more will be the opportunity to invite new leaves.
The leaves taste good when they grow rapidly and mature before the summer season.During summer, the leaves tend to have slight bitter taste, hence watering well during dry summer season reduces the bitter taste of the leaves.
Pick the older leaves from the outer side during summer. This also encourages the production of new leaves in this season.
Like any other green leafy vegetables Perpetual spinach should also be washed thoroughly with water before consuming to remove the traces of soil and debris on the leaves and stem.
- To clean first soak the leaves in the container filled with clean water.
- Clean the leaves gently by using your hands and drain the water.
- Repeat the process until all the debris is removed and water appears clear.
- You can add little bit of salt if necessary,to eliminate the germs.
How to Store Perpetual Spinach?
To store the spinach, pick the leaves from plant, wash the leaves thoroughly, wrap them in a plastic bag and freeze them.
They remain fresh for 3 to 5 days when stored in this method.
Other way to store these leaves is drying. These dried leaves can be used in the recipes if needed.
- Spanish beet can be consumed raw or cooked. It can be sautéed, boiled, or can be consumed in the form of soups. Perpetual Spinach leaves can be enjoyed raw in sandwiches, veg rolls, salad.
- It is better to select young leaves with tender taste when eaten raw.
- People love the Swiss Chard in their salad because of the vibrant and eye-catching color of the plant.
- Medium sized leaves are well suited to cook side dish vegetable. For this you need to sauté the leaves with or without stalks with some salt and spices.
- The big older leaves have a slight bitter flavor. This leafy vegetable loses its bitter taste and gives more refined flavor when cooked.
- Older leaves and stalks taste best when added to soups, boiled, or steamed. The stems take longer time to cook when compared to leaves.
- Perpetual spinach is enjoyed raw and cooked in general. But this leafy green can also be canned, frozen, and dried.
- The dried leaf powder can be used as toppings on baked veggies especially on baked potatoes.
- Clean few leaves of swiss chard and add them into your smoothie.
- Add the leaves of the perpetual spinach into dal and cook in the process similar to spinach dal which is a common Indian dish.
Perpetual spinach is low in calories and cholesterol and has zero fat. Like other green leafy vegetables Perpetual spinach is loaded with lots of vitamins, minerals, and fibre. Adding this to your menu makes it a perfect balanced diet.
- It is rich in vitamin A, C and K and minerals like Iron, Magnesium, Phosphorous, folate, Potassium and Calcium. It also contains Phytonutrients and fiber.
- 1 cup of serving will supply one fifth of your daily requirement of vitamin C.
- It has 3 times the recommended daily intake of Vitamin K.
- Vitamin A helps to improve skin and eye health.
- Vitamin C helps to boost immune system.
- Vitamin K helps in improving bone health.
- Perpetual spinach contains high levels of Nitrates which are shown to lower the blood pressure, reduces the oxygen consumption during exercise.
- It enhances the person’s performance in sports as it helps to maintain the oxygen level in blood.
- This leafy vegetable can help to combat cancer.
- The alpha-lipoic acid present in the Perpetual spinach is found to be beneficial for diabetics. It has been shown to lower the blood glucose levels and increase insulin sensitivity.
Fights against cancer:
In our daily life we eat lot of deep-fried food, food that are grilled at high temperatures. Food, when cooked at high temperatures, especially grilled foods generate harmful Heterocyclic Amines which causes cancer. Perpetual spinach is rich in chlorophyll, consuming any green leafy vegetables that are high in chlorophyll blocks and hinders the effect of carcinogenic agents.
Perpetual spinach is rich in vitamin K. This Vitamin K helps in the absorption of calcium and reduces urinary excretion of calcium. Green leafy vegetables like Swiss chard, Spinach are rich in vitamin K. consuming them adds extra calcium to diet and reduces the risk of bone fractures in the elderly people.
- The foods those are rich in vitamin K helps in blood clotting. Hence people using blood thinning medicines should not consume the food containing high vitamin K without the doctor advice as this vitamin can interfere with the effectiveness of the blood thinning medicines.
- Consuming variety of foods in required quantities as a part of balanced diet improves overall health.
- Hence to achieve a healthy body add more varieties of food in proper proportions instead of concentrating only on a same variety every day.