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Tetragon

Also known as New Zealand Spinach, Tetragonia tetragonioides, from the Tetragoniaceae family formerly classified with Aizoaceae (ice plant). Tetragon is a half-hardy perennial originating in temperate, subtropical and coastal regions of the Southern Hemisphere. It is a quick-growing leafy vegetable with succulent like leaves and a low spreading habit, often over several feet, which can be left to spread or can apparently be trained to grow over trellising though I have not tried that myself. I prefer to grow it as an edible ground cover crop and I think it is a good choice for forest and perennial gardeners. A useful edible in warm climates as it can stand heat and dry conditions without bolting.

Half-Hardy self-seeding annual leafy edible plant

History An heirloom leafy vegetable that was a popular among the Maori people of New Zealand and first brought to Europe by Joseph Banks in 1771 on his return aboard the Endeavour with Captain Cook.

Site & Soil  Prefers a sunny site sheltered from frost with well-drained, sandy soil rich in organic matter and a PH range of 6.8-7. It is a resilient crop tolerant of very poor soils, high temperatures and maritime exposures but not of frost. Add well-rotted compost to the top 15cm of the soil before sowing.

Propagation Sow 1-2cm deep in fine soil and keep moist until seedlings emerge.

1.        Sow directly in mid-late spring after the last frost.

2.        Sow undercover and set out when 5cm high when all danger of frost has past.

Germination can be slow; soaking the seeds for 24hrs before sowing will help break down the hard outer coating of the seed. Germinates 7-21 days. Crops in 50-70 days

Timing Sow  (March-April) May   Harvest  July-Oct

Care Tetragon needs very little care. Pinch out the growing tips to encourage bushy growth. Hoe to keep weeds down during seedling stage after that the foliage will act as a ground cover and suppress weeds. Water in very dry weather.

Pests & Diseases Tetragon is relatively pest free; slugs and snails don’t even seem to bother it.

Harvest Regular picking promotes new growth and plants can be cut down near to ground level and still re-grow.

Spread  120cm

Storage Will store for several days wrapped in paper in a salad drawer.

Botany and Seed Saving Seeds are very easy to collect. Flowers are produced at leaf axis along the growing stem leaving green buds with small spikes once these buds start to turn brown they are ready to harvest. Finish drying the seeds and store in a paper bags in cool temperatures. Be careful to harvest all the seeds before they drop, unless you want to start a self-seeding bed, as Tetragon is very good at propagating itself. Seed Life 50% germination for 5 years.

Use The tips and young leaves are used in place of spinach or other leafy greens. A particularly useful crop in hot dry areas or in summer when few other delicate greens will grow. In France Tetragon is used to make a quiche like tart with the boiled greens mashed up with egg, nutmeg and Crème fraîche and baked in a pastry shell. It is also steamed or boiled and drizzled with olive oil.

Nutrition Tetragon is high in Vitamins A, B1, B2 and C.

Varieties I have so far not come across any named varieties

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