Say it with me: orach. How did you say it? No matter what, I encourage you to go with it. I’ve heard it pronounced so many different ways that I’ve pretty much decided that no one really knows for sure.
But isn’t it pretty?
Atriplex hortensis is its Latin name. Orach, also spelled orache, also known as mountain spinach and saltbush, is a wild spinach native to the Mediterranean. It’s a cool season plant, tending to bolt in warmer weather. Here in the Houston area, we’ve had a mostly mild winter with a few nights below freezing, but temps generally in the 50’s and 60’s. Our orach has seemed happy throughout.
We don’t have a lot, yet. It was an experiment, but I might plant some more. Recently, we’ve started adding it to salads. It has a very mild, delicate flavor, vaguely like spinach, and entirely pleasant. It looks great in a salad and, best of all, it’s good for us. Like other leafy greens, it’s high in Vitamin K, Vitamin C, iron, magnesium, zinc, and several other minerals. It’s also a good source of tryptophan and dietary fiber.
We tossed some seeds into the bed, raked over them lightly, and watered. That's it. Orach is an ancient plant that grows in the wild. It doesn't require lots of attention.
In case you’re interested, we purchased our seeds from Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds Company. https://www.rareseeds.com/
I plot and plan. I work under dangerous conditions. I am frequently under assault. At times, I might drop everything and run for cover. I strive to work towards the greater good.
Gardening in southeast Texas can be brutal. Heat, humidity, and potentially disease-carrying mosquitoes are problems for more than half the year and a dangerous combination in summer. That’s to say nothing of fire ants and other biting, stinging insects. Snakes, too, although they only make a rare appearance in my little garden. Poison ivy and oak are common and birds sow both generously.
Despite some uncomfortable conditions, I feel very protective of the wild in my garden. It’s important to know friend from foe, for example, venomous from nonvenomous snakes and even then, it’s often not necessary to engage. As for the bugs, it is not fine with us to hurt the good with the bad. Pesticides are banned. So are herbicides. Our beds, whether food or ornamental, are organic. And while our garden isn’t entirely native, we do have plenty of native plants that please the local wildlife as well as ourselves.
While every garden is different, they all offer challenges, pleasures, time with nature. Much like people, they have their good days and bad days, high seasons and low; and they can all be fun and beautiful if you love them enough.