About Hablitzia tamnoides
Hablitzia tamnoides – Caucasian Spinach is a very hardy semi shade loving herbaceous perennial climber with mild edible spinach type leaves. Originating in the Caucasus region, it has been grown in Scandinavian countries as an ornamental before making a bit of a renaissance recently by author and plant expert Stephen Barstow. Now permaculturists and forest gardeners as well as those wanting to grow more perennial vegetables are beginning to give it a try as another possible staple that can happily grow in any garden with a shady spot. The young shoots can be eaten as well as pickings from the more mature leaves.
How to grow Hablitzia tamnoides
HABLITZIA NEEDS A PERIOD OF COLD TO GERMINATE AND YOU CAN SOW AUTUMN TO EARLY SPRING. THERE ARE TWO METHODS YOU CAN USE:
COLD FRAME/UNHEATED GREENHOUSE/ OUTSIDE SOWING METHOD ANYTIME DURING AUTUMN/WINTER: Start off with our Hablitzia seed (50 seeds per pack) – you can sow in pots/trays during the autumn and winter 1-2mm deep in fine compost and leave outside over the winter in a cold frame, unheated greenhouse or simply outside in a sheltered spot and the seeds will germinate. Check on them regularly as seedlings can emerge within 3-4 weeks depending on weather conditions.
FRIDGE METHOD ANY TIME BETWEEN AUTUMN AND EARLY SPRING: Alternatively seeds can be stratified for a period of 7-10 days in a fridge ( sow in fine damp compost/or fine compost and horticultural sand mix or damp vermiculite and place in a plastic bag – sow 1 – 2mm deep). This period of cold followed by removal from the fridge helps to trigger germination and you will usually see the seedlings begin to emerge within a week to 10 days. If using the fridge stratification method you can start in autumn through to early spring if you wish. Once germinated leave somewhere light and cool to develop.
In the wild, Hablitzia is normally found in woodlands so don’t expose your seedlings/plants to extreme heat. Seedlings can then be handled and potted on ready to be planted out when big enough. Plant in a spot that gets sun for half the day ideally, but the plants can tolerate sun for up to two thirds of the day. The plants need something to scramble up and can reach 7-10 ft tall. In the late summer they produce very decorative white flowers which eventually turn into tiny black seeds. The foliage dies back and leaves a crown of baby shoots that produce the next years growth. You can collect seed from mature plants and also divide up the crowns if you are careful. Slow in the first year, they really go for it in the second and third. Plant two or more plants together to ensure that you get seed in subsequent years.
How to eat Hablitzia tamnoides
Once established you can eat the late winter/ early spring shoots, snipping off some to eat and leaving the rest to grow. Once the plants starts climbing you can pick an abundance of leaves and use in salads or as a replacement for standard spinach in any dish.
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