Open-pollinated. Perennial to Zone 3. Also known as Lincolnshire Spinach and Fat Hen. Used as a potherb, one of the first greens of spring and one of the last of fall. Harvest the dark green arrow-shaped leaves and use like spinach. Ancient plant used in festive meals, in meat dishes and as a side dish, very popular in Europe before it was supplanted by spinach.
The name comes from the germanic haganrich literally ‘king of the hedge,’ supposedly a goose-footed gremlin that helps around the house and puts things where they belong. (We could use one of those!)
Considered a great delicacy. Gather shoots while they are still tender at about 5" high, peel and boil, then use like asparagus. Or harvest the dark green arrow-shaped leaves like and use spinach. Beloved by chickens, both for the greens and the oil-rich seeds.
Prefers rich soil in semi-shady areas, though will grow in full sun. Stratify seeds: fluctuation of high and low temperatures aids germination. Direct sow in spring or fall or transplant very young seedlings in spring. Once established the plants don’t like transplanting. Requires a year of growth before leaves can be harvested. If left uncut, center stalks grow to 2½'. ①