Good King Henry
A perennial relative of spinach, lambs-quarters, and chard. One of the first cooking greens of spring and one of the last of fall . Ancient plant used in festive meals, in meat dishes and as a side dish, very popular in Europe before it was supplanted by spinach. Like other leafy perennials in that it emerges in very early spring, before seedling plants are ready to eat. Mild in flavor, very similar to lambs-quarters, with the same silvery underside to the leaf, but the leaves are larger and the plant grows in large clumps. Named not for a historical king, but for a leprechaun-like garden spirit, haganrich (literally ‘king of the hedge,’ a gremlin with goose’s feet that helps around the house and puts things where they belong.. This ancient vegetable is also known by several other names: Lincolnshire Spinach, Mercury, and Fat Hen (Chickens adore both the nutritious leaves and the oil-rich seeds.) Handsome groundcover for shade, with arrowhead leaves.
Prefers rich soil in semi-shady areas. (Full sun only in cool-summer climates). 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 plants can be harvested. If left uncut, center stalks grow to 2½'. Be patient and you will have a bed that lasts for decades.