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Atriplex hortensis rubraAtriplex hortensis
Orach

A leafy vegetable many of our ancestors would have eaten, orach should have a place in any witch's garden. An ingredient in the witch's friend, green salve, orach is often eaten together with parsley, lovage, or sorrel, and in Britain, orach was one of a number of plants (borage, burnet, chicory, field mustard, lamb's lettuce, wood sorrel) that country women once gathered in the wild to supplement their gardens. Orach is a native of Western Asia and the Mediterranean that became a popular veggie throughout Europe (introduced to England in 1548) and later, in Africa and North America. It's more robust than spinach. Baby leaves are good for salads; young leaves make good cooked greens and can sub for spinach in most recipes. The purple and red colors will flow into the cooking water and color noodles or rice (these will turn your green salve brown!). Orach is considered a Moon plant, probably because it was once commonly found growing in sea marshes, and Culpeper said it had cold and moist qualities (and it is one of those leafy greens that like lettuce, another Moon plant, doesn't need any additional water to cook), but some consider it Saturn because it likes to grow in disturbed ground and in areas that other cultivated or tamer plants might not enjoy. Also known as melde, meedle, milds (for "meal," from the meal-like pollen), arrach, mountain spinach, arocche bonne-dame, goosefoot, blite, butter leaves, French spinach, giant lambsquarters, saltbush (because it can tolerate a certain amount of saltiness and because it can have a slightly salty taste). My orach seeds are a mix of yellow, green, dark purple, and red plants.

OracheHow to grow Orach
Plant outside in a prepared bed 2-3 weeks before your last frost or in spring. Sow 2 finger-widths apart in rows 12-18in/30-45cm apart. It germinates in 1-2 weeks at cool temperatures ( 50-65F/ 10-18C). Or start from transplants and set out 6-12"/15-30cm apart in full sun or partial shade in fertile soil. You can grow it in containers, but keep in mind that a happy orach plant will get 4-6ft/1.2-1.8m tall and 1-1.5ft/30-45cm wide. Harvest the babies in between the plants you want to preserve when they get about as tall as your palm is long. Harvest the young leaves from plants and leave the old ones on to help the plant grow. If the plant forms buds, pinch them off for more leaves. Orach grows best in spring and fall but can continue to grow through summer, when spinach has become bitter or bolted from the heat. Keep watered for best flavor, but DON'T use any synthetic fertilizers on these plants--they can concentrate nitrates from synthetic fertilizers in the leaves, and these are not good for people. Use natural fertilizers like compost. Don't grow between potatoes, as they don't like each other. It has some tolerance to frost, but it's an annual. Reseeds itself if you let it. Stored seed is viable for 5 years.  General growing info.   Top 

Atriplex hortensis
Aurora Orach
50 seeds $3.50


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Uses in Witchcraft & Magic

Moon Herb
Witch's Veggie Garden
Medieval Vegetable

2014 Harold A. Roth; No reproduction without permission.

Ingredients in green salve: betony, rue, lovage, fennel, sage, stitchwort, savine (Juniperus sabina), tansy, comfrey roots, sclarea, marche, chervil, ravens foot (buttercup), mugwort, oregano, orache, pennyroyal, pimpernel, cinquefoil, valerian, burdock, meadowwort, turnsol (Heliotropum europaeum), bishopwort (wood betony - Stachy betonica), hazel, quince, hedgecliver (cleavers?), groundsel (Senecio vulgaris), brookmint (Mentha aquatica) and other mints, chicken "meat," sweet gale, hedge hop (dwarf variety of Humulus lupulus), costmary, earth navel or asparagus, leaves of nut beam (?), laurel berries, cumin, oil, and wax! - From "Leechdoms, Wortcunning, and Starcraft of Early England" by Oswald Cockayne (1866).