Cultivating the tree spinach - sowing, care and harvesting

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tree spinach

The name Baumspinat is a bit misleading. Although the edible plant grows up to three meters high, but it is not a tree in the strict sense. In addition, the tree spinach is only remotely related to the vegetable spinach known to us (Spinacia). On the other hand, the tree spinach can be used just like the real spinach in the kitchen. In contrast to the real spinach the tree spinach has the advantage that it grows enormously in the height and thus is very space-saving. So can be harvested over the entire summer again and again from the same plant.
Short profile
  • botantic name: Chenopodium giganteum
  • other names: giant goosefoot
  • Occasionally, buckwheat is also called a tree spinach
  • herbaceous, annual plant
  • Growth height: up to two meters (rarely up to three meters)
  • reddish, upright stems
  • Leaves: stalked, light green, up to 20 cm in length
  • Flowering: June to September
  • Use: as vegetable plant (leaves are edible)
  • occasionally also as ornamental plant
Originally the tree spinach (Chenopodium giganteum) comes from China and Southeast Asia. In India, the tree spine has been in cultivation for a very long time, because in tropical wetlands, the plant grows easily up to three meters in height. Today, the tree spine is found in almost all temperate climates and thus ideally suited for the culture in the garden. However, as a vegetable plant in our gardens the tree spinach is a rather new phenomenon. The leaves of the tree spinach are cooked as raw edible, the seeds are cooked and also suitable for consumption.
In the site conditions the tree spin is quite straightforward. If it has enough light, nutrients and water, it shows itself quite frugal and grows within a single growing season at a rapid pace to over two meters in height and about one meter in width. It is best to have a sheltered location that provides direct sunlight for a few hours a day.
  • sunny to partially shaded
  • sheltered


The tree spinach prospers on nearly all soil conditions, insofar as they are well permeable to water. That's why it can be grown in almost every garden. If the soil is very firm or tends to waterlogged, some sand should be incorporated. This has two important functions. On the one hand, the water can drain better, on the other loosens sand or gravel on the ground, so it is better ventilated. Optimal conditions for cultivation include a garden floor, which has the following characteristics:
  • mean nutrient contents
  • good water permeability
  • good air permeable (loose)
Before a Chenopodium giganteum is sown or planted in the garden bed, the soil should therefore be well loosened and a layer of mature compost about two centimeters thick should be incorporated.
Pouring and fertilizing
Although the tree spinach tolerates dryness, the leaves remain softer and softer when the soil is kept evenly moist. In case of prolonged drought the tree spinach must therefore be watered regularly. If a small amount of compost is incorporated into the soil during planting (sowing) of Chenopodium giganteum, further fertilization during the year is not necessary. Caution is advised with highly nitrogenous fertilizers. The giant goosefoot stores the nitrogen as nitrate in its leaves.
The tree spinach is a very frugal plant and needs no special care measures. It can be planted as a single specimen or cultivated on a whole bed. The more space the plant has, the better it can thrive, grow in height and width. Chenopodium giganteum produces flowers in June and seeds from late summer. If you want your giant goosefoot to simmer for the coming year, you can leave the seeds. Otherwise, it is recommended to remove the flowers early, as the tree spinach then puts its energy into the growth of the shoots and leaves.
Sow in the field
In annual plants such as the tree spinach, sowing seeds in spring is generally recommended. The seeds can be sown directly in the field or alternatively pre-cultivated on the windowsill. For a family of four usually three plants are sufficient, so far as they are sown as a specimen plant at a distance of about 1 to 1.5 meters very early in the year and thus can reach their maximum stature height. Frequently, however, the plants are also sown at shorter intervals and harvested earlier.
  • first sowing (outdoor): from mid-April
  • Distance: at least 50 centimeters
  • in single plants: distance 1 to 1.5 meters
  • late sowing: possible until June
  • Distance: 30-40 centimeters
  • late sown plants are not that big anymore
  • first water garden soil (if the soil is dry)
  • For better dosage, draw a fine line into the ground
  • Insert seeds at a greater distance into the notch
  • do not cover with earth (light germinator)
  • sprinkle only thinly with fine sand or alternatively press lightly
  • Always keep the soil slightly moist until germination
  • after germination leave only the strongest plants
  • remove all others (note distance)
Preculture on the windowsill

Chenopodium giganteum

To give the seedling a head start for outdoor sowing, the seeds can also be sown in pots or a miniature greenhouse on the windowsill. Even a cold frame with glass cover is ideal for early sowing. However, the tree spinach must then later be planted in the field, as it is very fast very large.
  • Time: from the beginning of March
  • Substrate: cultivation soil or cactus soil (low nutrient content)
  • Moisten the soil slightly before sowing
  • Just lay seeds on the ground and press lightly
  • need to germinate light
  • Put the pots in the coaster, add about 1 cm of water
  • Cover pots with foil or glass
  • Temperature: over 18 degrees
  • Germination time: 2 to 3 weeks
  • bright (no direct sun)
  • Plant seedlings into individual pots after formation of the second leaf pair
  • plant outdoors in May
Tip: As a specimen plant in a tub, a tree spinach can also be cultivated very well on the balcony. However, the pot should have a minimum size of 35 to 40 centimeters, so that the plant can develop well.
From June, the harvest season begins, which extends into autumn. There are two different techniques for harvesting tree spinach possible, depending on when the tree spinet was sown and how close the plants are next to each other.
  • 1. Remove individual leaves
If the tree spinach stands alone in the garden and can develop without competition to a gigantic plant, then it is possible to pluck its leaves as desired. When harvesting, always remove the lower leaves. The vegetation zone, in which the plant forms new leaves, must be generously spared. At least 6 to 8 leaves should be preserved, otherwise the giant goosefoot can not continue to grow.
Tip: If the flower or seed stems are broken off, the broad growth of the tree spinach is stimulated. In the armpits, new side shoots form until autumn.
  • 2. Harvest whole plant

tree spinach

If a bed with a row spacing of about 30 centimeters is created, the tree spinach should be completely harvested at a size of about 30 centimeters, since he then lacks the space. After the first harvest a new sowing is possible. In addition, the whole plants are harvested, if this is a late sowing in June. The plants are brought in the fall even before the first frosts from the ground, because at cool temperatures wilts the annual plant and dies.
Tip: The tree spine should not be disposed of on the compost. Since there are usually larger amounts of mature seeds on the plant, next year may well be the whole garden full of tree spinach.
A tree spinach is a great vegetable alternative for the garden. He is fairly undemanding and robust, is rarely ill and needs almost no care except for occasional watering in drought. The plant can be used like the real spinach in the kitchen, but is significantly more space-saving and productive at harvest. Because the tree spinach grows instead of in the width in the air and can be up to over two meters in early sowing and sufficient distance to neighboring plants. Harvesting takes place between June and September, simply by plucking the lower leaves.

Video Board: How to Grow Spinach 101: From Seed, Planting, Pests, Problems, Harvest, to Kitchen!.

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