'Alternative' greens

I’m going to try some new greens this year, with the focus on things that let me be lazy. I need to start cooking greens, not something I really have done. I was curious if anyone had experience with them to share.

Hablitzia - seems really promising. I just got some seeds from Experimental Farm Network bred by Andy Hahn, he used to be active here. Perennial.

Good King Henry - What’s old is new. Anyone with experience with it? I can’t figure it if you need to cook it or if it can be more of a salad green. I see conflicting information. Perennial.

Malabar spinach - again, only cooked or edible raw? Annual.

New Zealand Spinach - looks promising. Annual.

Orach - looks promising. Annual.

Oyster leaf - not much info on it, got seeds from Baker Creek. Perennial.

Perpetual Spinach Chard/Beet Leaf - a milder Chard. Annual.

Anyone have other alternative greens they like? Perennials always preferred.


I’m a huge fan of this one. Reliable cut-and-come-again greens all season. Very tasty! Has sort of a rich, spinach flavor cooked. Maybe a little better than spinach, and I love spinach! Young leaves pretty good in salad. “Verde da Taglio” is very similar, though maybe a touch more tender.


I’ve grown regular Chard a few times. Basically plant and ignore!


New Zealand Spinach is great and will self seed with no effort coming back up next year.

Mâche is a great early season green that self seeds too, and overwinters as tiny seedlings. It rapidly starts getting bigger in March and ready to harvest in April most years with no winter protection efforts here.

Peperomia pellucida needs no effort. It grows as an understory plant in the shade of all my other vegetables, or anything bushy. The plants self seed and come back up year after year. It’s nice in salads, or anything else fresh leafy greens would be used in.


I have mache growing now (well, I assume it’s alive under the snow), I really liked it.

What do you do with NZ spinach?

Have to look up that peperomia, not familiar with it.

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I sauté NZ spinach. It’s pest free too. In fact, those other 2 I mentioned are pest free here too.

I forgot to mention sweet potato greens. Those young shoots are great sautéed or in stir fry.

Have you tried garlic chives, or French sorrel? They’re great perennial greens.


I have garlic chives EVERYWHERE!

Agree on the perpetual spinach. We love it


Escarole, a broad leaved endive, excellent for cooked greens.

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Doesn’t cooking break it down?

Thanks ampersand, that’s good news for me, I can enjoy them again. I’ll actually delete that comment now [about oxalic acid and kidney stones].

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I got to try Malabar spinach in an University garden last summer/fall. I did only try it raw and liked it quite a lot. It’s a thick, crunchy type of leaf. The taste was a bit like a mix between beets/chard (the earthy taste, no bitterness) and spinach. It was quite slimy, which I like but some don’t. The plant was quite vigorous and beautiful.


Hablitzia is a solid choice. It is easy to grow from seed, very hardy, and tastes good all year. I have a bunch of them around the yard, some in full sun, some in part shade and all do well. The shoots in spring are great sautéed and the leaves are good in salads. They taste vaguely spinach-like but they are thinner and less crunchy. I’d rather think of them as their own thing than a spinach substitute.

Good King Henry is also a keeper, but not as good. It grows easily in part shade, which is valuable as that is a difficult niche from which to get good food. I wouldn’t eat it raw but the leaves are good cooked and the shoots and flower stalks are decent.

I’d add to your list, Turkish Rocket, which does really well in dry spots from part shade to full sun. We saute the flower stalks sort of like a broccoli raab and they are delicious.

Sea Kale is pretty good as well, though its cropping season is short. You blanch and eat the shoots in spring, then let it grow out, like asparagus. The bonus there is the plant is very attractive and can be placed in your flower garden.


I was thinking of planting it under my persimmon trees. By the time the persimmons are ready to pick the Good King Henry will probably be dormant.


Good King Henry is like a perrenial lambs quarter (decent steamed and once established and regularly chopped can give decent steamed greens for large part of the year.

Orach is ok when young and tender before it grows tall and seeds…very earthy and comes in cool colours (magenta and lime green etc)

Perpetual spinach is almost identical to chard imo

I like sorrel (nice lemon zing…but from oxalic acid so don’t overdo it) also rocket for some perrenial spicy greens (I also like annual mustards). Bok Choi/PAC Choi are nice for some mild juicy crunch to balance out


Does anybody use small leaved linden for greens?


We grow ashitaba and Okinawa spinach. Lots of phyto nutrients. Chaya is a good green and alligator weed grows in boggy areas. D


That’s funny timing. I got my hablitzia and Good King Henry seeds a couple days ago from the same source.

I tried order Hablitzia last month on Etsy but the guy turned conspiracy-theorist accusing me of being someone who has apparently been harassing him on there so he canceled my order, so I was super grateful to find another vendor in the USA who had it in stock.

I have been growing spinach the last 3 years but I don’t have a shady area in my garden so it quickly got bitter and bolted despite being the slow-bolt variety. I’m hoping hablitzia will be less problematic for me.


The large-leaf selections of purslane, such as “Golden,” are worth growing. Nutritious, tasty, heat-loving and, though not perennial, self-sows like a weed (which I guess it is! :slight_smile: ). Sometimes gets hit by leaf miners here.


I’ve been curious about this. I wonder if linden could be coppiced/pollarded for greens production?