Anyone who has tried to grow conventional spinach in our climate understands the challenge of harvesting the leaves during the summer.
Just a few consecutive hot days will force the plant to bolt and send up seed. When this happens the foliage becomes bitter and inedible.
Red Malabar spinach isn't a spinach at all. It's a tropical vine which produces heart shaped leaves which taste a lot like spinach.
Unlike "real" spinach, this plant loves hot weather, but can't take any frost.
The vines are deep red and the glossy leaves are pretty too. It's a fast climber during the heat of summer.
Malabar spinach produces mild tasting foliage which can be used in any recipe as a spinach substitute. It's wonderful to snack on in the garden too.
This is also a great time to sow some regular spinach seed as temperatures moderate to replace the Malabar when a frost kills the vines. We'll have some hot weather through August, but the cool nights should keep the spinach from bolting. I always sow some seeds now and at then again end of August. Spinach loves cold weather and can be picked through the winter.
Plants which are given a little protection can actually over winter and will thrive in the cold of March and April. It's my favorite way to grow the crop. It hits the ground running in early spring and has a much longer harvest period before things warm up.
Malabar spinach is both beautiful and tasty. Something you might put on your seed list for next spring.