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water spinach

 
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Living in a temperate climate that basically gives us a tropical sumer has it's advantages. one of these is water spinach (ipomoea aquatica). I can get this from a local farmers market, but would rater grow it myself.

My wife puled the leaves off for a meal and stuck the stems into the mud of our small garden pond. They have taken root and put out new leaves. The concern I have is that we got them out to late to get more than another meal or two before it gets too cold.

if citrus can grow in the alps, I should be able to find a way to grow water spinach here. The problem is that this is obviously a frost pocket. I realize that the water will give off heat for a little wile, but the heat will be gone soon after the cold comes. I might try to over-winter some indoors for "seed stock", but it would be awesome to grow it outside all year.

How can I design a system that would allow for that? Any thoughts would be much appreciated. I will try to get some photos up later today.
 
Michael Holtman
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Here's some pictures. The soil is bare right now because we were using ducks in this paddock/garden bed/pond area.
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Location: Southern New Hampshire (Zone 5)
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I grow water spinach year-round indoors in my hydroponic Tower Garden.  It-re-roots easily and grows fast.

I don't have any experience growing it outdoors, but most sources list it as extremely frost-tender, likely will need to maintain above 40F and it will stop or slow any new growth if it gets that cold.

http://tcpermaculture.com/site/2014/01/29/permaculture-plants-water-spinach-kangkong/

You could try some Eliot Coleman-style winter techniques with a plastic hoop over row covers, but I expect limited success with this tropical plant in Tennessee, where it hit 5 or 10 degrees every winter.
 
Michael Holtman
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Yes, I was thinking it may only hold up to around 40 degrees. Like I said, I may have to just find a way to keep it indoors. One of these days I'd like to build a hothouse with a RMH in it.
 
Michael Holtman
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We had some blossoms, and I'd like to be able to get some seed. I don't know how likely that is. Probably pretty slim.
 
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A few years back i've had it in my pond, did ok over the summer heat, flowered but seed wasn't viable. I decided it wasn't worth the effort unless i would find some seed that would be cold hardier. Especially to be able start it earlier in the season would be good, because it would mean at the hight of summer i could harvest every week instead of two times in the season.
 
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I had never heard of this before. Pond edibles excites me, we have a nice size pond which, going by the amount of wild life it supports, is quite healthy, although it does get quite low in the summer. We do get a freeze maybe 2 or 3 times In winter , but our lowest temps are rarely beyond -3°C and then only from 7a.m. till about 9a.m. is this too cold for water spinach?
 
Hugo Morvan
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Hi Mandy, i don't think it will survive -3 Celcius , it freezes. It stops growing before, it's a tropical vine and it's flowers are nice too. It's part of the morning glory family.
I grow spinach in spring that doesn't survive the summer. But then there is mountain spinach/ red orache, but that stop being very nice when it's dry and hot, then this water spinach would be ideal to fill the gap. You have quite a good chance of growing a decent amount of it. It flows on the water and sends out roots when it touches the soil. I think it could be good for a pond that's descending over summer, it can cover wide areas if it's feeling good. It likes nitrogen if i remember right.  
 
Mandy Launchbury-Rainey
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Thanks Hugo. Maybe I could overwinter some indoors.
 
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We grew that in Canada, but only in hot part of summer. Lack of light stopped growth before frost killed it. Very rapid growth when conditions are right.

Yesterday, I read about it as pig forage. Supposed to be good fresh or added to silage. Makes other things more palatable.

I will try it in the Philippines.

For temperate growing, a shallow container of water not connected to the cold ground, allows high water temperature. My farm pond is much too cold,  even at the height of summer. When the water cools, it's over.
 
Michael Holtman
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I suspect It might survive the winter if planted in a spring that stays around 55 degrees Fahrenheit and is protected from the wind. A lot of winter sun might help. I don't think it would grow well at any time of the year at that temperature. If it survived, you could plant it in warmer waters/mud.
 
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I grew this plant for years when I lived in Georgia.  It is one of a small list of what I called "summer salads"...plants that can grow through the hot summer that are edible raw, as salad (The others are Indian or Malabar spinach, Basella; and Surinam spinach, Talinum) Water spinach is related to, and comparable in temperature tolerance, to sweet potatoes....in other words not only is it frost tender, but pretty much shuts down and starts to die at anything below 50-55F. Since it flowers under short daylength, maturing seeds outdoors is also impossible, so I would overwinter it by means of cuttings in a pot indoors.  
 
Michael Holtman
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Yes, that was plan A all along. Any tips on how to do this? Perhaps a wicking pot with fine wood chips?
 
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