Saturday, August 29, 2009

The credit goes to the rain

The malabar spinach growing in my balcony was grown from a cutting.

(Yes, again, it was given by a kind fellow GCS forummer. Most of my edibles are grown from seeds or cuttings. I'm a bit sceptical about the insecticides that nurseries use.. )

It started growing very slowly when I first got it. For a while, I wondered if I would only be able to taste them only during Christmas! They were growing so slowly!

Then came the rain. For one, two, three and then four days days.

And one morning, after a night of heavy downpour, I went to my balcony and looked at the mess the rain made. And oh, my malabar spinach! I almost couldn't recognise it! It seemed to have just grown up overnight!

To be honest, the gardener in me doesn't quite like the rain. I've lost a fair number of plants to heavy rains - one of my tomato plant snapped and died in a heavy downpour, my basils rotted from the rain... so did my rosemary. Most of my herbs do not appreciate Singapore rain. Plus the rain really makes a mess - splashes of soil on the wall, plants collapsing due to strong winds, water everywhere, etc etc..

So, it's such a pleasant surprise that my malabar spinach does really like the rain!

Actually, the malabar spinach is not a real spinach. It is only a distant cousin of the spinach, if there is such a thing. The leaves though, are spinach-like in taste and appearance, and the pinkish-white flowers are pretty and yes, also edible.

It is high in vitamin A, vitamin C, iron, and calcium. It is also a rich source of soluble fiber and chlorophyll. When raw or cooked in clear soup, it has an earthy taste that I don't really fancy that much. But the pretty purplish colour of the stems make it, visually speaking, a very nice vegetable to add to any salad.

When fried with garlic, it taste a lot less earthy and a lot better.. but then the colour is no longer as bright. So I prefer to add a little of it into my salads. I add just a few well chopped up leaves into my salad and it actually adds an interesting texture and taste to the salad.

(Not that I have harvested any yet, oh no.. but I bought a bunch from the market to cook. And I also plonked some of the stems into a pot and oh.. One of them is sprouting baby leaves after less than 2 weeks! See photo below..)

Baby leaves, growing out of a stem cutting

The malabar spinach is a climbing vine. And now that my spinach is growing well, I'm starting to think about ways to let it start climbing and blooming...

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