Orach is an annual, native to Europe and Siberia, and is one of the oldest cultivated plants known.
It is grown in Europe, especially France, as a spinach substitute. It is also known as Mountain spinach, French spinach, or Giant Lambsquarters (probably because it grows to 4 to 6 feet).
There are red, yellow and green leaved varieties. The red are most used in ornamental plantings. The plant is starting to be used in cut flower trade.
The flavor of the yellow is considered by Europeans to be superior to the others.
Orach is a cool season plant that is more tolerant of heat and cold than spinach. Best flavor and production comes in cooler weather.
Propagate by seed about 2 to 3 weeks before last frost.
Sow seed one quarter to one half inch deep, 2 inches apart, in rows 12 to 18 inches apart.
Prefers well drained, fertile soils high in organic matter, with a pH of 6.5 to 7.5.
Tolerates drought, but has better flavor if well watered.
Harvest when 4 to 6 inches tall, cutting an inch or two above the soil in "cut and come again" style. Or thin plants at this height to 6 to 18 inches apart. Continue to harvest young leaves from older plants as they mature.
Pinch off flower buds.
Plant successive rows to extend harvest.
Post-Harvest and Packing
Sold for the fresh market, similar to lettuces.