Known as Mountain Spinach, Orach is a heat and cold tolerant green for all seasons, supplying large quantities of mild heart-shaped leaves with a pleasant flavour and texture.
It grows quickly early in the year and holds its flavour well through summer heat, even as the plants mature. Some salad mix growers are finding it to be an indispensable item in their market mix.
The flavour has a nice citrus touch which are great for salads. The young leaves can be eaten raw in a salad while older leaves can be cooked and are a great alternative to spinach.
Orach ‘Scarlet Emperor’ has purple leaves that look great in the garden and on the table. Whether using individual leaves in salad mix, cooked like spinach or as a micro-green, the colour is always spectacular.
Orach is a handsome plant and very suited to growing in the flower garden and are used to great effect in ‘edible landscape’ plantings, mingled with flowers, vegetables and herbs. The tall stems and arrow shaped leaves lend an elegance to the garden, especially when grown en masse.
The tall stems are grown as ‘cuts’ for the flower trade, they are as beautiful as any floral bouquet.
Sown in succession every few weeks from April to June for harvesting May to Sept, the thinnings can be eaten baby leaf size and the rest spaced 20 to 25cm (8 to 10in) apart to grow large leaves and eventually, some stems for cutting.
Colourful Orach is not, as you might think, a modern novelty thought up by an enterprising seedsman. It's an ancient crop, botanically Atriplex hortensis. Its common name derived from the French arroche, which comes from the Latin for ‘golden’. Nineteenth-century authors such as Fearing Burr and Vilmorin-Andrieux described numerous varieties of this once-popular food, in a wide range of colours, as well as different heights and leaf textures.
Sowings from April to September will give young and tender leaves right through the summer and into autumn. Orach can also be sown from October to December with protection.
Sowing for Baby Leaf: Sow All Year Round
The best growing technique for spring and summer crops is to sow direct into prepared seed beds in the kitchen garden or greenhouse border. Grow at closer density for baby leaf. Tip a small amount of seed into your hand, take a pinch and spread thinly along the trench. Cover with soil, label and water. If birds are a problem in your garden, spread netting to prevent them eating the seed. Sow every two weeks for a continual supply of tender young leaf.
For autumn and winter crops, seed can be sown into pots or seed trays which can be grown on the kitchen windowsill or in a conservatory/greenhouse. Use a free draining compost, sow thinly and cover seed lightly after sowing.
From sowing to harvest can be as little as 21 days, harvest using scissors. Although re-growth can be harvested, it is better to sow little and often for continual supply
Sowing for Mature Crops: Sow April to September or October to December.
Orach germinates and grows well in cool weather. The optimum germination soil temperature is 21°C (70°F) and optimum growing soil temperature is 6 to 18°C (60-65°F)
For a summer crop: sow from early spring to the middle of June. For a constant supply, try sowing a new row every three weeks. For leaves to pick over winter, sow spinach in late summer and early autumn.
Spinach may be started in cells or flats indoors, three to four weeks before the last frost in spring. Or direct sow in the garden in spring as soon as the ground can be worked.
Choose a sunny or slightly shaded spot with moisture retentive soil. Dig the soil, remove big stones, weeds and incorporate plenty of garden compost or well-rotted manure. Rake to a fine finish.
Make a trench 12mm (½in) deep with a garden cane and space seeds about 8cm (20in) apart. Cover, water and label. Subsequent rows need to be about 25cm (10in) apart.
When the seedlings are 2cm tall thin out to leave the strongest seedlings plenty of space to grow. Keep free of weeds and water plants when dry.
Spring sowings should be ready to be picked in 40 to 50 days. Harvest in the morning. Take what you need by cutting leaves from the outside of the plant, taking care to avoid damage to the roots.
By picking often, plenty of new leaves will be produced.
Cropping can be prolonged by picking of any seed heads that may appear.
Atriplex is a plant genus of 250 to 300 species, it is distributed almost worldwide from subtropical to temperate and to subarctic regions. Most species rich are Australia, North America, South America and Eurasia. It includes many desert and seashore plants and halophytes, adapted to dry environments with salty soils as well as plants of moist environments.
Many species are edible. However, the favoured species for human consumption is Atriplex hortensis, Garden Orach.
The generic name Atriplex originated in Latin and was applied by Pliny the Elder to the edible orach.
The common name of Orach is derived from the French arroche, which comes from the Latin for ‘golden’
The name common name of saltbush derives from the fact that the plants retain salt in their leaves, which makes them of great use in areas affected by soil salination.
- Additional Information
Packet Size 1 gram Average Seed Count 200 Seeds Common Name Mountain Spinach Other Common Names Orach, Orache, German Mountain Spinach Family Chenopodiaceae Genus Atriplex Species hortensis Cultivar Scarlet Emperor Hardiness Hardy Annual Time to Sow Sow successionally. Germination 7 to 10 days Harvest Harvest using scissors once the plants have become well developed Time to Harvest Cut and Come again.