Tree spinach (Chenopodium giganteum), also called giant goosefoot, is quite an interesting leafy vegetable and suitable for any kitchen garden. I tested its cultivation at my place and almost made the mistake of discarding it as unprofitable, because the young plants were infested with aphids in the first spring and looked a bit more puny compared to the very similar garden melon. But the difference and the peculiarity became noticeable at the beginning of midsummer:
It can only be harvested until the stalks are knee-high. The tree spinach blooms much later. When young, it should be left to grow into a bush over 2 m tall. Then you can conveniently cut the tips of its leaves for the kitchen in midsummer. Constant cutting of the tips delays the flowering of the annual plant. Then, no later than September, Chenopodium giganteum also goes into bloom and ripens abundant tiny seeds until winter. You can harvest the seeds and sow them in early spring (March to April), but it’s easier to let the seedlings drop out. They will emerge on their own in the spring. From these seedlings, place about three in sunny spots in the garden (choose edge spots!) where they can grow and spread.
The special thing about this summer spinach is that it requires almost no care and labor. And with it you make ideal use of the space in the garden, because it grows relatively narrow in height. Tying it to a stick is also not necessary. With the variety ‘Magenta Spreen’ you also have a very decorative plant with dark pink-green leaves in the plot. In narrow allotments, the tree spinach can also be planted as an edible screen against the terrace.
In my case, it took two years before I was able to obtain my own seed that would safely sprout. With some vegetables a safe culture works only with the self-won seed, which proved in this case with me. In the meantime, leafy vegetables have gone wild in my kitchen garden to the extent that I no longer have to worry about propagation. Where the little plants do come up, however, they are not troublesome weeds, but are plucked out and taken as green manure or green fodder for the chickens. Rabbits, however, do not like the tree spinach. If pizza is baked, the leaves are quickly harvested. Otherwise, they are mixed with other types of spinach (for example, New Zealand) in my house. The main purpose for me is actually more for ornamental purposes and as an emergency supply when other types of spinach do not provide enough leaves.
The species Chenopodium giganteum, i.e. the tree spinach or giant goosefoot, actually belongs to the plant genus of goosefoot (Chenopodium). These fit into the plant family of the foxtail plants (Amaranthaceae) via the subfamily Chenopodioideae. These again belong in the plant kingdom to the order of the cloves (Caryophyllales). Through the Betoideae subfamily, the plants are related to beet and chard, and through the Amaranthoideae subfamily, to garden foxtail (Amaranthus caudatus). From the latter we can also use the leaves as a substitute for spinach, and it too is more ornamental than useful plant in home and small gardens.