Molokhia (Corchorus olitorius) goes by several names, including jute mallow, Jews’ mallow, and more commonly, Egyptian spinach. Native to the Middle East, it’s a tasty, edible green that grows quickly and reliably and can be cut again and again throughout the growing season. Keep reading to learn more about molokhia plant care and cultivation.
What is Egyptian spinach? It’s a plant with a long history, and molokhia cultivation goes back to the times of the Pharaohs. Today, it’s still one of the most popular vegetables in Egyptian cooking.
It’s very fast growing, usually ready to harvest about 60 days after planting. If it goes uncut, it can reach as tall as 6 feet (2 m.) in height. It likes hot weather and produces its leafy greens throughout the summer. When temperatures begin to drop in the fall, leaf production slows and the plant bolts, producing small, bright yellow flowers. The flowers are then replaced by long, thin seed pods that can be harvested when they naturally dry and brown on the stem.
Growing Egyptian Spinach Plants
Growing Egyptian spinach is relatively easy. The seeds can be sown directly in the ground in the spring after all chance of frost has passed or started indoors about six weeks before the average last frost.
These plants prefer full sun, plenty of water, and fertile, well-draining soil. Egyptian spinach grows outward into a shrub shape, so don’t put your plants too close together.
Harvesting Egyptian spinach is easy and rewarding. After the plant reaches about 2 feet (61 cm.) in height, you can begin harvesting by cutting off the top 6 inches (15 cm.) or so of growth. These are the most tender parts, and they’ll be replaced quickly. You can harvest from your plant like this again and again over the course of the summer.
Alternatively, you can harvest the entire plants when they’re very young and tender. If you plant a new round of seeds every week or two, you’ll have a constant supply of new plants.