Growing Orach Plants In Your Garden
Looking for an alternative to spinach? the you can choose orach plants, will give it a run for its money. Orach can be used fresh or cooked like spinach. A cool season plant, orach is a warm season alternative to spinach that is less likely to bolt. A member of the Chenopodiaceae family, orach (Atriplex hortensis) is also known as Garden Orache, Red Orach, Mountain Spinach, French Spinach and Sea Purslane. It is also sometimes referred to as Salt Bush due to its tolerance for alkaline and saline soils. The name orach is derived from the Latin ‘aurago’ meaning golden herb. Orach plants are grown much like spinach in USDA zones 4-8. Seeds should be sown in full sun to part shade about 2-3 weeks after the last frost for your area. Sow seeds ¼ to ½ inch deep spaced 2 inches apart in rows a foot to 18 inches apart. With germination temps of between 50-65 degrees F. (10 to 18 C.), seeds should sprout within 7-14 days. Thin the seedlings to 6-12 inches in the row. The thinnings can be eaten, tossed into salads much as any other baby green. Thereafter, there is little special orach care except to keep the plants moist. Although orach is drought tolerant, the leaves will have better flavor if kept irrigated.
This delicious plant tolerates both alkaline soil and salt and is frost tolerant as well. Orach plants does beautifully as a container planting too. Harvest the tender leaves and stems when plants are 4-6 inches in height, about 40-60 days after sowing. Continue to harvest the young leaves as they mature, leaving the older leaves on the plant. Pinch flower buds to encourage branching and continued production of new leaves. Successive plantings can be made until the weather warms and, in cooler climates, mid-summer plantings can be made for a fall harvest.
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