Last Updated on October 8, 2022 by Real Men Sow
Egyptian spinach (molokhia or jute mallow) is a leafy shrub of the Malvaceae Family. The Egyptian spinach, despite its name, is not a kind of spinach. It does not look or taste like one. It is part of the same family as okra, durian and cacao, as well as the linden tree. Its leaves look more like ordinary spinach than ordinary. They are large and dark green with a slight serrated edge.
Egyptian spinach can grow to 6 feet (1.8m) in height, producing fibrous stalks and sidevine clusters. The molokhia plant, which is used to make jute fiber in some regions, can reach a height of 13 feet (4 meters) in certain areas.
Growing Egyptian spinach
Egyptian spinach is an annual crop that grows quickly. It thrives in warm weather, unlike ordinary spinach which can only be grown in cold seasons. It should be planted in the spring, preferably at the beginning of summer, to avoid bolting and cold damage. Some areas prefer to grow Egyptian spinach in the summer.
Egyptian spinach can be grown from seeds. Either start them indoors 6-8 weeks ahead of time or you can plant them directly in your garden soil.
To overcome dormancy, seeds must be prepared before sowing. For a few seconds, heat the seeds in water. Next, let them soak in warm water for 12 hours. After the seeds have soaked, it is time to sow them into the soil. The seeds germinate quickly, often in 2 to 3 days.
Growing Inside or outside?
It is best to know the ideal temperature for Egyptian spinach seeds to germinate outdoors. This is 77°F (25°C). This temperature is quite high, especially for spring sowing. It may be best to start them indoors, depending on where they live.
You should not start your Egyptian spinach seeds indoors. They can be sensitive to transplant shock and don’t like being disturbed. There are two choices: keep them growing in a container, or plant them in compostable pots.
It is much easier to transplant young plants outside when they have reached maturity with compostable pots. You will need to dig a hole large enough to hold the pot when the time comes. It doesn’t matter if you take the plant out or risk damaging the leaves. It will eventually decompose naturally if you leave it in the soil for a few weeks.
Planting Egyptian Spinach Outdoors
Pick a place in your garden that gets at least 6-8 hours of sunlight each day. Egyptian spinach should only be grown in full sunlight.
Plant your spinach in nutrient-rich, well-draining soil. The plant can tolerate both acidic and neutral soils. The plant will be happy as long as it is within the pH range of 4.5-8.2.
Make sure to add plenty of compost to the soil when you prepare it so the plants can get all the nutrients they need. As an alternative to compost, you can use well-rotted manure and worm castings.
Place the seeds about a half inch deep. Space them out about 2 inches (5 cm) apart. After each plant has 6-7 leaves, thin them to approximately 15 inches (38cm).
Make sure to water the soil regularly. Egyptian spinach can withstand high heats, but not drought. This can cause bolting. Avoid overwatering as this can lead to root rot or other fungal diseases.
Egyptian spinach does not require a lot of fertilizers to grow. It doesn’t require any extra feeding as long as it has enough organic matter such as compost. You can use a liquid fertilizer solution once per month if your garden is very poor in nutrients.
Container-Growing Egyptian Spinach
You can grow it indoors in containers as early as March and not worry about the cold. The Egyptian spinach seeds should be soaked for at least 12 hours. Next, place 2 to 3 seeds into a compostable pot. Use a spray pump to keep the soil moist and ensure that the temperature does not drop below 77 degrees F (25 degrees C).
Wait a few more weeks until the seeds sprout before you trim the seedlings to one. You can transfer the plant to a larger container once it has six or more mature leaves.
Choose the Right Container
A plastic container that is approximately 10 gallons (38 L) in volume and has drainage holes should be chosen. You will need to fill it with a nutrient-rich, well-draining potting mix. Egyptian spinach requires space to grow so limit the number of plants in each container. Regularly water your plants and apply organic liquid fertilizer at least once per month.
Regular pruning is necessary for Egyptian spinach that has been grown in containers. The bushier the plant will grow, the more you trim the stems. When the stem reaches 12 inches (30cm) in height, trim the top 2 inches. You can enjoy the leaves and stems you have removed raw or cooked.
Egyptian spinach can be harvested seven weeks after sowing or when the plants reach two feet (60 cm). To remove the top 6 inches (15cm) of each stem, use a pair sharp gardening scissors. The cut-and-come again method will encourage the growth of side branches. These will help to produce tender, young leaves.
Egyptian spinach matures in 60 days on average from the time it is sown. The leaves can be harvested all through the summer, and even into early fall.
Flowers and Seeds
In autumn, mature Egyptian spinach plants will bear small yellow flowers. The flowers will dry and develop thin, elongated seed pods. These pods can also be eaten and used in the same way that okra.
Allow the Egyptian spinach pods to dry on their stems before you attempt to harvest them. Next, pick the seeds, open the pods and take them home. The seeds should be small and dark grey. These can be used to plan next year’s crop.
Is it a perennial plant?
Egyptian spinach is not resistant to frost. The plant cannot be grown unless you are in a subtropical or tropical climate. After the harvest season, you can cut the plants and put them in your compost bin.
Egyptian spinach seeds can be self-sown easily and are small. You should cut the seed pods so that the plant doesn’t grow back to the same spot next year. The pods will burst once they are dry and release the seeds onto the soil. They will then remain dormant for the next year.
Egyptian greens are a common ingredient in many African cuisines. This plant has a mild, savory flavor with an aroma that is similar to garlic and coriander. They are full of nutrients and antioxidants. They are rich in calcium, potassium and magnesium as well as vitamins A, B, C, and the vitamin D complex.
Although Egyptian spinach leaves are edible raw, they can be bitter if you don’t like the bitter taste. You can enjoy the bitterness of Egyptian spinach leaves by cooking them. You can use them in the Egyptian molokhia dish, paired with lamb or fish.
If you want something more spicy, add the leaves to a Levantine-style soup with tomatoes, onions, garlic and chili peppers. Egyptian spinach leaves can be dried and used for tea, or made into powder to use in cooking.
Egyptian spinach has been touted for its health benefits since the time of the Pharaohs. It was used to make tea and in cooking. The anti-inflammatory properties of Egyptian spinach were used by ancient Egyptians to improve strength and aid in childbirth. It was half-way around the globe, and it was used in Ayurvedic medicine for pain relief and treatment of tumors.