How to Grow and Use Strawberry Spinach

Blitum capitatum syn. Chenopodium capitatum   Full Sun-Partial Shade   Soil pH: 6.0 to 6.8

Strawberry spinach is an annual edible native North American plant. It produces Spinach , as well as edible berries. It is more heat tolerant than common spinach and is available in warmer weather when other spinach plants are not producing. In reality, is not truly a spinach plant – but a close relative.

In addition to its culinary attributes it has an attractive aesthetic value.

Culinary Uses

It is a 1 – 3 foot shrub with produces multiple branches strewn with edible red berries more similar in apearance to raspberries than strawberries. The leaves are edible, and tasty.

A patch of young strawberry spinach with no berries growing in a garden. Top down view.
Strawberry spinach is grown more for its leaves than its berries – although both are edible.

The berries are sweet, not quite as sweet as raspberry or strawberry, in fact they are somewhat bland. Their mild sweetness serves well in salads and as an ingredient in many recipes. It is not well suited to preserves such as Jelly and Jam.

The leaves produced early in the season are best used fresh in salads, older leaves which are present once the berries appear are better for cooking.

Strawberry spinach (chenopodium foliosum) with red berries growing in a garden.

The berries are high in oxalic acid, although this is not a bad thing, they should be eaten in moderation as in quantity they will interfere with your bodies absorption of calcium.

Planting Strawberry Spinach

Strawberry Spinach performs best in full sun with moist soil. A mildly acidic soil is best, with a soil pH of 6.0 to 6.8. It can be somewhat invasive, once established this plant will self sow itself and needs to be kept in check as it can easily commandeer areas allotted to other crops.

Strawberry Spinach plants can be started by Direct seeding or started indoors for later transplant outside. The plants survival rate when transplanted is not very good, so if you choose to start indoors expect to lose some plants. If using transplant be sure to harden them off for a few days before placing them in the ground.

For Direct seeding – lightly sprinkle the tiny seeds across the surface area you intend for them to grow, Sprinkle some soil over the seeds and water. You can also use the same method of shallow trenching used for other garden vegetables.

If you have a good germination rate, you may need to thin the plants to about a foot apart once they start growing. Keep the soil uniformly moist but not saturated and soggy during the germination period.

A high nitrogen fertilizer will promote better spinach leaves. Soil additives such as fish emulsion are also a good idea.