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How to grow Chinese mallow

If you like spinach, you’ll enjoy mallow too. And you won’t have to worry so much about slugs

I find the pursuit of spinach dull and I dislike slugs. These two factors inform a great deal of my gardening. I understand why spinach rules in the kitchen – 60 seconds’ worth of wilting and the green part of your meal is sorted – but it is a bit of a bore to grow. If the slugs don’t get it, it bolts at the first opportunity, unless you offer it a steady stream of water (which encourages more slugs). Which is why I give you the Chinese mallow, Malva verticillata: a doddle to grow, pretty to look at and far more slug-resistant.

The Chinese or vegetable mallow has been in cultivation for more than 2,000 years, long enough to testify that it is delicious. Sadly, it’s not easy to get hold of outside China, although I have found a company on eBay that sells seed to tortoise owners. (Tortoises, it turns out, love Chinese mallow leaves.)

Related: How to grow perfect turnips | Alys Fowler

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