Why do we love orach so much? Apart from the absolutely glorious colour of the purple/red variety (if you haven’t seen it before, it's a wonder). Have you ever wondered… while weeding a garden bed - why can’t my vegetables grow like weeds? Well, this is your girl, Atriplex hortensis, she’s known by many names: mountain orach, arrach, saltbush, garden orache, french spinach and sea purslane, and she grows like a weed. That’s probably because orach does grow wild in the UK, and is considered a weed as a consequence. However, this “weed” grows incredibly well during our “hungry period” - the time when very little grows, or is just starting to grow… orach is being bountiful in our gardens.
Purple/red orach is high in antioxidants, a great source of nutrients, orach grows as green or even white orach. While the leaves can be a little high in oxalic acid, so it’s not recommended not eat large amounts of orach raw, it’s a great addition to a salad, and excellent in stirfries.
I just scatter orach through my veg beds early on in the season (September is fine). Then I thin the orach as I plant seedlings in. It helps to suppress weeds and provides fresh vegetables while everything else is establishing.
That’s the beauty of plants like orach, they do lots of jobs in our garden, helping to cover soil, support the growth of other plants and feed you in the meantime. They also make excellent microgreens, because they grow so fast.
Orach has a long history of being cultivated by humans, we’ve been growing and eating it for a very very long time.
The Cygnet Seed Library has plenty of orach seeds at the moment, why not try them out? You can access our seeds, at any time from the verandah of Oura Oura House, 19 Mary st Cygnet.