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Lower maintenance alternatives for popular edibles?  RSS feed

 
A.J. Gentry
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Location: Ohio
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This question occurred to me this evening and it is in the same vein as the Eat This Not That book.

Has anyone compiled a 'grow this instead of that?' list?

Example:

Instead of spinach grow Orach. Benefits include: longer season (does not bolt in summer), size (4-6 feet to harvest), lower maintenance than spinach (is it?)
Instead of spinach grow Lamb's Quarters. Benefits include: size (1-6 feet), low maintenance / reseeds easily (I am in zone 6a and even with the cold it comes back), I also thought I read that lamb's quarters has a higher nutritional value than spinach.

A.J.
 
Angelika Maier
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Location: cool climate, Blue Mountains, Australia
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It is so easy to grow usual spinach or silverbeet. While the alternatives are maybe very good eating they are far more work in the kitchen.
There is not much work involved growing far too much spinach than you and your neighbours can ever eat. But still eat the weeds they are good for you.
 
Bill Ramsey
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Location: SW Georgia, zone 8b
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Angelika Maier wrote:It is so easy to grow usual spinach or silverbeet. While the alternatives are maybe very good eating they are far more work in the kitchen.
There is not much work involved growing far too much spinach than you and your neighbours can ever eat. But still eat the weeds they are good for you.
I like spinach but it hasn't really grown that well here. I tried the Malabar spinach once and it grew well but didn't taste very good. I have to say, that is one thing I would like to find a good variety of or a better alternative for in my area. Actually, I haven't even tried to grow it in years so maybe I'll try again this year... with more attention to tailoring the bed for less direct sun. Maybe sow it amongst the mustard or something? Hey, that stuff needs time to go to seed anyway. The last few times it would either freeze if it's planted too early or get baked if planted later. :p no good!
 
Gilbert Fritz
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Grow Matt's Wild cherry tomato instead of regular cherry tomatoes, anywhere blight is a problem, and there can be cool, rainy weather to slow the plants down. It took over my garden, and I couldn't keep up with picking it. It is technically a different subspecies than a regular tomato. And they taste really good. But they didn't work in Colorado. (They took over in Scranton Pennsylvania. They are resistant to blight and cool, cloudy weather.)
 
Walter McQuie
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Location: Northern New Mexico
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I like lambs quarters and it's certainly easy to grow. I let some get to six feet and harvested the seed so I can do successive plantings this year and try to expand the small customer base for it at the farmers market. It takes quite a while for the plants to get that tall; much longer than for a spinach plant to be ready for harvest. And the leaves are small; removing them from the stems would be a lot of work and I'm not sure that the amount would be that much more than from you'd get in less time from the spinach, certainly not when you factor in time to maturity, if that matters to you. On the other hand it works great in my mix of greens that I broadcast and mulch in. This strategy gives an extended harvest season as individual varieties mature at different rates. Lambs quarters is among the first, because at just a few inches tall and three or four sets of leaves the stems are still tender and you can just cut the plant down reducing harvest time and cooking prep. Many people are going to have some difficulties with spinach in mid summer, but lambs quarters should do fine then. So grow both; they each have their own interesting and useful attributes.
 
Peter Ellis
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Angelika Maier wrote:It is so easy to grow usual spinach or silverbeet. While the alternatives are maybe very good eating they are far more work in the kitchen.
There is not much work involved growing far too much spinach than you and your neighbours can ever eat. But still eat the weeds they are good for you.


Experiences vary. My spinach did quite poorly, the lambsquarters came along on their own. I did not notice any particular difficulty prepping it and made a point of spreading the seed liberally in the fall, hoping it will do well again next year.
 
A.J. Gentry
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I was using spinach as one example because I have lamb's quarters growing with zero effort behind my honey locust tree. The first year I noticed it growing there was one plant. And I let it just go. It grew over 4 foot and was touching one of the honey locust branches. I just left it in place over fall / winter to see what it would do without me doing anything to propagate it. The next year I had a cluster of them. I think 7 maybe 8 giants. They grew even taller and were bending up and around the tree's branch. (I should take a picture this spring.)

Being a fan of less, or in this case, no work got me curious. Are there foods we grow that do require lots of work / attention that may have a lower maintenance equivalent? Or a system we could set up to do less work with them?

Corn? Tomatoes? Peppers? Eggplant?

A.J.
 
Angelika Maier
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Location: cool climate, Blue Mountains, Australia
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Bill I think you live somewhere warm because you grow Malabar spinach. Not very nice tasting but very pretty.
English spinach likes cool weather. Silverbeet does not mind the heat, but there are different varieties in all sorts of colours.
The red stalled one does look good in the bed but awful once cookes. And there is a very thick stalked variety too I don't find it very yummy.
I prefer a thin stalked green variety call lucullus or so. You can cut it an it comes back several times.
There is NZ spinach which is perennial, supereasy to grow but a bit more reluctant to germinate. However the leaves are as small as is lambs quarter.
It is a nice groundcover though.
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