Red Spinach, Amaranthus dubius Mart. Ex Thell is one of the common leafy vegetables cultivated all over the world. It comes under the family Amaranthaceae. It is native to South America and was introduced to Asia, Europe and Africa. Red Spinach grows vigorously in warm climate round the year in well aerated sandy soil. It grows up to 60 cm height with red leaves and bright red stem. Leaves and stems can be consumed as cooked vegetable in fried form. Recently it has become popular as a salad vegetable mixed with lettuce and other vegetables.
Planting: Red Spinach is grown from seeds and they are directly sown in standard raised beds containing organic manure such as dried cow dung/ cow’s urine/poultry manure. While sowing, care should be taken to provide enough spacing (10- 12”) between seedlings. This will prevent the overcrowding of the plants.
They can also be planted in grow bags along with other plants and can be placed on the terraces of buildings where maximum sunlight is available. Red Spinach is a fast growing vegetable during summer season and reaches up to two feet height within 30 to 40 days.
Fertilizer: Relatively very little fertilizer is needed (cow dung/cow’s urine/poultry manure) for proper growth.
Harvesting: Red Spinach matures within 30- 40 days. The harvest must be made just before flowering otherwise it becomes less vigorous. During harvest, the plant should be cut above 6” height from the soil level, only allowing the plant to continue growing for another harvest. At the time of harvest one plant must be kept as a stock plant and seeds are taken from this for the next generation.
Nutritional Value: Red Spinach is rich in Vitamin A, C, iron, calcium, phosphorus, sodium, and potassium and other essential amino acids. It helps in digestion as it contains a lot of fibre.
Pest: Downy mildew is the common fungal disease seen in Red Spinach caused by Peronospora spinaciae. The symptoms are light yellow areas on the leaves. The fungus may be transmitted from infected seeds.
Control measures: By the use of disease resistant cultivar and as well as the treatment of seeds with pseudomonas and Tobacco-soap solution or Neem oil spray, the disease can be controlled.
Dr. A A Prasannakumari
Scientist, JNTBGRI, Palode