Family: Amaranthaceae

Countries: Americas, Mexico, North America

Huauzontle (also known as Aztec Broccoli or by its botanical name Chenopodium berlandieri) is an easy to grow annual from Mexico.  Due to their similar appearances, this vegetable is easily identifiable as being a relation of the common weed, Fat Hen (which itself is another edible plant).  Huauzontle plants produce edible leaves and teeny tiny flowers, which are eaten as newly formed buds, in a similar way to Broccoli.  These vegetable generate a regular harvest over an extended period, through the summer months and into autumn.

In the UK, we can sow Huauzontle seeds from April to the end of May (from mid spring to late spring).  Huauzontle seeds don’t need any special treatment; these seeds can be sown directly in the soil, or in containers filled with a good quality peat-free compost.

I’ve grown Huauzontle successfully both in my Earthbox, as a container plant, and direct sown, in my border.  This is such an easy vegetable to grow.  Although, I must say that it’s easier to grow Huauzontle directly in the soil if you can, as I found that the plants in my Earthbox flagged during hot weather and required almost daily watering in the heat of summer; whereas my border grown plants didn’t require any additional irrigation throughout the entire growing season.  I’d recommend using a large planter, with a good quality, water retentive peat-free compost, if you want to grow Huauzontle as a container plant.

Although I could sow Huauzontle seeds in April, I usually find I’m busy sowing higher priority seeds at the height of the growing season.  if I decide to grow this vegetable, I usually sow Huauzontle seeds sometime in May.  I’ve found that my May sown Huauzontle plants produced a regular supply of leaves from June or July until October or November – depending on when the frosts arrive.  My Huauzontle plants produced flower buds from the middle of July to September or October (from mid summer to autumn).

I’ve found that Huauzontle plants tend to grow up to around 1.2m (4ft) tall but these vegetables don’t need any support.

Although Huauzontle plants closely resemble Fat Hen weeds as seedlings and they look rather tatty at this stage, these plants take on a more decorative quality as they age.  Being one of those special plants that enables raindrops to sparkle and twinkle on their leaves in the sunshine; Huauzontle is a lovely plant to have around.  In autumn, Huauzontle leaves turn a fantastic cherry red colour and create a long-lasting display, before falling in autumn.

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