The red spinach volunteer

How did this get into our garden?

The plant in question – red spinach, I believe – growing in a natural mulch of fruit and leaf debris from the belimbing tree.

I’ve heard other gardeners talk about “volunteer” plants in their gardens, and we’ve had a few ourselves. You know, plants that just start growing without your help – and I don’t mean weeds. Weeds are weeds. Volunteer plants are those that don’t vie for dominance, and more importantly, are (to me) unique, happy “accidents”.

In today’s case, we’re talking about the red spinach plant. It somehow started growing under the belimbing tree, and escaped our radar long enough to grow to the size you see in the picture above.

A closer look at the leaves

A closer look at the leaves

Given the “natural” state our garden can be in, it’s no wonder it has grown this happily. The spot is mostly shaded, and the layer of fallen belimbing leaves and fruits is probably aiding in keeping moisture available for the spinach plant.

I don’t know how many of you have noticed, but the weather in January has wreaked quite a bit of havoc on our plants. Not only have the monsoons finally changed, but the strong winds that have been blowing are sucking the moisture out of the air and soil, even affecting big, deeply-rooted trees. (I shall complain in a separate post…) So I am quite intrigued that this plant managed to grow with no help from us in the aspect of providing water.

If you look more closely at the leaves, however, you will notice that they aren’t in the best condition, with dry spots scattered around them. The stems, though, are thick and waxy.

I’m so very curious as to how this plant started growing here. Did a bird ingest and disperse the seed, or did it get caught in the wind and land here by chance? After all, spinach seeds are quite small. All I can do is wonder…

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