Imagine such homegrown vegetables that you could plant once and then harvest a plentiful supply of tasty leaves, shoots, roots, flowers or tubers year upon year with almost no additional effort. Welcome to the wonderful world of perennial vegetables!
One of my favourite perennial vegetables which has been a regular feature on my allotment for the last three years is Hablitzia Tamnoides. Put simply, this is an easier to grow, more productive and perennial alternative to spinach.
What is it?
Hablitzia Tamnoides or Caucasian Spinach is a perennial climbing vine originating from the Caucasus region which is sandwiched between the Caspian and Black Seas. As a perennial edible it was recently relatively unknown outside of Scandanavia until it was championed by the all-round edible plant expert and enthusiast Stephen Barstow.
How do you grow it?
As it grows wild in the dappled undergrowth of the Caucasus Mountains, Hablitzia prefers a shaded or partially shaded location. It is a vigorous and sometimes sprawling climber and so definitely benefits from having either some netting, trellis or canes upon which to climb. Hablitzia can be started from seeds in early Spring but these will need to be stratified by exposing them to a period of cold (put in the fridge!) beforehand to encourage germination. Both BackyardLarder and IncredibleVegetables also suggest that seeds can be sown outside in Autumn and Hablitzia can also be propagated by dividing the roots of an established plant. Once you have an established plant, it will happily produce an abundance of edible young shoots and leaves from early Spring onwards each year.
What does it taste like?
As far as I’m concerned, Hablitzia tastes like a milder version of Spinach. It has a leafy lettuce-like taste but with an underlying hint of mild bitterness. The young shoots and leaves can be eaten from early Spring and the larger leaves can be eaten throughout the Summer and Autumn until they begin to die back in the cold weather.
What can you do with it?
Absolutely loads, use it exactly as you would spinach. Great in salads, pasta, grains and pretty much everything!
Where can you get seeds from?