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Malabar Spinach is taking off

November 07, 2020 — BarryK

I have been taking "before" photos of plants shortly after being planted, with the intention of taking more photos in about a year, to see how they have grown. Here are some earlier photos;

My back yard is a small courtyard with a North-facing wall. The roof eve overhangs the wall, so the wall is shaded most of the day in the summer, the sun does climb up the wall in the afternoon. This is late-spring here in the Southern Hemisphere, so in the winter it will be expected to have more sun on the wall.

There is likely to be one benefit of the roof overhang -- it will reduce likelihood of frost immediately below. Not that we get much frost here, but it can Happen.

About two weeks ago, I planted two Malabar Spinach plants (also known as Climbing Spinach), scientific name Basella rubra. This is a tropical perennial plant that likes hot conditions. It will possibly die if there is frost.

They were very small when purchased, and for the first week didn't seem to be doing anything, but suddenly have taken off. Photo, taken two days ago:


This is the red-stem variety. On the left is a Stevia Sweet Leaf, and in the pot on the right is a Passionfuit plant waiting to be planted.

This morning I bolted a trellis onto the wall, to give the vine something to grow up, but, fascinating, it also makes a great ground cover:

Fascinating also, the entire plant is edible, apparently too, the berries, though one guy on youtube did say might pay to be cautious and not eat the unripe ones.

Stevia Sweet Leaf, scientific name Stevia rebaudiana, has edible leaves and is a sugar substitute. Preliminary observation is that it is not quite so happy in that hot spot -- it remains to be seen how it copes with mid-summer. It was wilting a bit, so put lupin straw around it to keep in the moisture. The Malabar, on the other hand, will tolerate not only the heat, but also dry conditions. 

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