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How to sow and grow New Zealand spinach

New Zealand spinach is a tasty summer vegetable. It's a lot like the spinach you know and love. It looks and tastes similar, but NZ spinach can handle summer weather better. You can also harvest it for a long time.
Nieuw-Zeelandse spinazie in de Makkelijke Moestuin
New Zealand spinach

What is New Zealand spinach?

New Zealand spinach is an annual plant in the Aizoaceae family. So, it's not actually related to spinach, but it got the name because it tastes a lot like it. 

It's a heat tolerant, slow-growing plant. The long shoots grow thick triangular leaves. Large seeds also grow along the stems.

NZ spinach was brought to Europe from New Zealand in the late 18th century.

Vitamins and minerals in New Zealand spinach

NZ spinach is a healthy leafy vegetable, high in vitamin C, vitamins A and B's and minerals like potassium, calcium and sodium. 

It also contains many antioxidants, like carotenoids. These reduce the risk of cancer, heart disease, Alzheimer's disease, macular degeneration (which causes you to lose your sight), and several other health conditions.

Since it also contains some oxalic acid, it's better to boil or blanch the leaves for a while to break it down. 

NZ spinach retains water and has hardly any calories.
Nieuw-Zeelandse spinazie in een Makkelijke Moestuinbak
Vitamins and minerals in New Zealand spinach

More about our New Zealand spinach seeds

New Zealand spinach is a tasty summer green that you harvest for a long time. The vegetable is very similar to spinach: the leaves have the same taste and can be used in the same way.

NZ spinach plants produce long tendrils, so the best place for them is on one side of your garden box or near your trellis: this way the shoots can continue to grow over the edge or up the trellis. 

The seeds are tough so we soak them before sowing them.

  • Species name: New Zealand spinach
  • Family: leaf
  • Plants per square patch: 2
  • Height: about 25 cm with long shoots
  • Sowing time: April to mid-May
  • Sowing depth: 1 - 1.5 cm
  • Germination: 10 - 18°C in 8 - 18 days
  • Time to harvest: after 8 weeks
  • Sunlight: can grow in sun or shade

We sell the seeds separately, or you can find New Zealand spinach in our seasonal seed pack:

What do you need to grow your own New Zealand spinach?

Here's everything you need to grow NZ spinach:
  • a 30x30 cm patch with airy, nutrient-rich soil mix
  • NZ spinach seeds
  • a place with at least 4 hours of sunlight a day

In other words, an MM-Mini, or a square patch in one of our garden boxes, filled with MM-Mix.

Growing your own NZ spinach in this perfect soil mix is super easy. If you use poor-quality (potting) soil, it's much harder and the results will be disappointing. So just go for the best.
Nieuw-Zeelandse spinazie in een MM-mini of Planty
New Zealand spinach grows great in an MM-Mini

How to sow and grow New Zealand spinach?

Our NZ spinach is included in the free Planty Gardening app. Use it, and you'll get step-by-step guidance from seed to harvest.

Each vegetable goes through a number of stages - we call them levels. The app tells you exactly what to do at each level and checks in when your plants are ready for the next one.

So you don't need to know how to grow NZ spinach in advance: the app takes you through every step.

But if you'd like to read more about those steps, here's what the process looks like:

Level 1 and 2: Soaking and sowing the seeds

First, put the seeds in a cup with water and let them soak for 24 hours. This will help them germinate.

Choose a square patch at the side of your garden box. Loosen up your moist MM-Mix and sow like this:

  • poke 2 holes in the patch diagonally from each other (no deeper than 1.5 cm)
  • put 2 to 3 seeds in each hole
  • carefully cover up the holes with soil mix

After about 8 to 18 days, you'll see something green come up. It depends a bit on the weather.
nieuw-zeelandse-spinazie-zaaien-en-kweken-3.jpg

Level 3: New Zealand spinach seedlings

When you see the first seedlings in your NZ spinach patch, you know it's going well. They probably won't all come up at once, but give it another day.

Then it's time for the next level.

Level 4: Thinning New Zealand spinach seedlings

When several seedlings come up in each spot that you sowed, choose the best and remove the rest: that's called thinning out. It might sound harsh, but it's necessary.

New Zealand spinach seeds are actually small nuggets containing 3 - 5 seeds each. So if they all come up, you'll have too many plants. 

Take a pair of scissors, leave the biggest and prettiest seedling per spot, and cut off the others along the soil mix. The remaining plants will thank you later.
Klein plantje van de Nieuw-Zeelandse spinazie - ongeveer 2 weken oud
Small NZ spinach plant - about 2 weeks old

Level 5: Caring for your New Zealand spinach plants

After a week or 2, your seedlings will become small plants. 

You hardly need to do anything: if the weather's dry, give them some water and remove the odd dead or yellow leaf. Easy 🙂
Medium Nieuw-Zeelandse spinazie plantjes in de Makkelijke Moestuin
Young NZ spinach plants

Level 6: Harvest the leaves and buds

About 7 to 8 weeks after sowing, the little plants are ready for the first harvest.

You harvest the leaves, but not the whole plant.

Leave the center: it will continue to grow and eventually produce flowering stems. Harvest the leaves and the tops of the budding stems. The more you do that, the more the plant will produce new side shoots. 

This way you can keep harvesting all year long - until the frost rolls in.
Bloeiende Nieuw-Zeelandse spinazie in de Makkelijke Moestuin
Flowering NZ spinach

What do you use New Zealand spinach for?

NZ spinach leaves are usually used like ordinary spinach: the taste is almost the same.

Toss the raw leaves into a salad. Or cook them briefly and add them to your mashed potatoes. Also delicious in green smoothies, soups, stir fry dishes, and sauces.
Nieuw-Zeelandse spinazie bij het klimrek
NZ-spinach on the trellis

The last level

As long as the plants still look nice, you can continue to harvest. Harvest often and a lot, because the more flowering stems you harvest, the more new leaves the plant produces.

Until the temperature drops below freezing. Then the leaves get limp and ugly. Time to remove the plants from the patch or MM-Mini, and prepare the soil mix for the next round of sowing. 
Nieuw-Zeelandse spinazie aan het eind van de zomer in de Makkelijke Moestuin
NZ spinace at the end of summer

So: what's stopping you from growing New Zealand spinach yourself?

In the summer, it's a perfect alternative to spinach. If you have a cold frame or greenhouse, you can start earlier and still harvest late into the year.

Plus: with our app and materials, it's pretty much impossible to fail 🙂

Order your New Zealand spinach seeds here or get started with a complete starter kit:
Enjoy!
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