Growing water spinach is very popular as a vegetable, especially in the Southeast Asian region. It is very popular in the Southeast Asian cooking, and it has a nutty flavor similar to spinach. Water spinach grow rapidly and they are among the very fast growing vegetables.
Water spinach (Ipomoea aquatica) is a semi-aquatic, tropical plant which is actually grown as a vegetable for it’s tender shoots and leaves. Today, growing water spinach is much popular and the plant is found throughout the tropical and subtropical regions of the world.
Water spinach is known by many other different names such as river spinach, kangkong, kangkung, water morning glory, water convolvulus, Chinese watercress, Chinese convolvulus, Chinese spinach and swamp cabbage. It is also known by some other local names in different parts of the world.
It’s other local names include Kalmi shak in Bengali, Thooti Koora in Telugu, Kalama saga in Odia, Dagoeblad or dagublad in Suriname, Hayoyo in Ghana, Kalmi saag n Hindi, Vallal in Tamil, Kolmou xak in Assamese, Trokuon in Khmer, Gazun in Burmese, Rau muong in Vietnamese, Kongxincal in Mandarin Chinese, Ong choy in Cantonese, Eng chhai in Teochew and Hokkien and Phak bung in Thai and Laotian.
Water spinach plants grow in water or on moist soil. The plants have long stems, measuring about 2-3 meters or even longer. The stems are hollow and can float, rooting at the nodes. Shape of the leaves typically vary from sagittate to lanceolate, long and broad. The flowers are of trumpet-shaped measuring about 1-2 inches in diameter. The flowers are usually white in color with a mauve center. Propagation is either by planting seeds or cuttings.
Both leaves and stems of the water spinach plants are edible and can be used in many different ways. Both leaves and stems are very nutritious and contain good amount of energy, dietary fiber, fat, protein, vitamins and minerals. And it is very good for human health. But consuming raw water spinach which is harvested from contaminated areas may transmit Fasciolopsis buski (an internal parasite of humans and pigs causing fasciolopsiasis).
How to Grow Water Spinach
Growing water spinach is very easy, as long as the soil is moist consistently. It grows vigorously in East, South and Southeast Asia. You can even start growing water spinach in containers in the non-tropical areas if you can plant the seedlings in sunny location and give them enough water. However, here we are describing more information about growing water spinach organically in home garden from planting, caring to harvesting.
Select a Location
Select a good location in your garden with full sun for growing water spinach plants. Because the water spinach plants require full sun for proper growth and they can’t tolerate shade. Planting water spinach near the edge of a pond or other water bodies will also be good.
Prepare the Soil
The water spinach plants grow well in fertile soil which is rich in lots of organic contents. So while preparing the soil, add as much organic contents as you can. Adding well-rotted aged manure and homemade compost will be very good for the growth of the water spinach plants.
Best Time for Growing Water Spinach
Water spinach can be grown throughout the year in tropical areas. But generally the summer season is the best time for growing water spinach.
Purchase Seeds or Cuttings
The water spinach plants can be grown from both seeds and cuttings. So, purchase either seeds or cuttings for growing water spinach organically in your home garden.
The water spinach plants readily roots from cuttings. So planting the cuttings is the easiest way for growing water spinach. Although you can plant seeds for growing water spinach. Soak the seeds 24 hours before sowing for growing water spinach from seeds. This will help to germinate the seeds faster. Then scatter the seeds in your prepared bed, and transplant later when the seedlings reach 4-6 inches height. Planting the seedlings in rows will be good for additional caring. Plant the seedlings to at least 6 inches apart.
The water spinach plants are very easy to grow and they generally require less care. Although taking additional care will be very good for the growth of the plants. Here we are describing more about additional caring process for growing water spinach plants.
Fertilizing: The water spinach plants are not among the heavy feeders. They will grow just fine if they have access to enough water. So additional fertilization is not required for growing water spinach plants in home garden.
Watering: Water spinach plants grow very well in moist soil. So, regular watering is a must for growing water spinach plants.
Controlling Weeds: Hand control the weeds, because weeds will consume most of the nutrients from the soil.
Thinning: Thin the water spinach seedlings to at least 6 inches apart.
Pests and Diseases
Most common or main pests and diseases of the water spinach plants are stem rot, black rot, leaf beetle, aphids and wire worms. Apply organic methods for controlling all these.
The water spinach plants grow very fast. And you can expect to harvest for the first time 4-6 weeks after planting the seeds. You can harvest either leaves or entire plants. But cutting only a few leaves or entire plant with leaves and stems leaving only 3 inch of growth, will help the plants to grow again.
These are the common ways for growing water spinach in home garden. Hope you have enjoyed this guide! Good luck & happy gardening 🙂