Kangkong

Kangkong from garden
Kangkong from garden
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Introducing Kangkong

Kangkong (Ipomoea aquatica) is a semi-aquatic tropical plant. It is a water spinach or river spinach that is grown as a vegetable for its tender shoots. It is part of the morning glory family of plants.

This plant is also known as Chinese watercress or swamp cabbage. It originated from Southeast Asia. It is called ong choy (蕹菜) in Cantonese, and kōngxīncài (空心菜) in Mandarin.

Kangkong Growing

Location and Soil

Position your plants in full sun where you can supply water to keep the ground damp or where the ground will be damp naturally.

Propagation

Time needed: 4 minutes.

How to Grow Kangkong from Seed.

  1. When to plant.

    This plant can be grown from seed all year around in the tropics. However, you may want to plant it once the wet season starts, so less watering is required.

  2. Grow in a container

    This plant can be an invasive pest when it gets out of control in the tropics. Therefore, sow your seed either into seed trays or direct into the containers where the Kangkong is to be grown. This will stop it spreading.

  3. Sun and Water

    Plant in full sun and water regularly. Remember, this plant is described as a ‘water spinach’ so it needs a lot of water, especially during the dry season.

  4. Sowing Seeds.

    Sow seeds 1cm deep. Firm down gently and keep moist.

Can kangkong be grown from cuttings?

Yes. Cuttings of three or more nodes can be planted, making sure at least one node is under the soil surface. Keep the area around the plant moist and free of weeds.

Kangkong Vegetable Care

Fertilising 

Kangkong loves to be fed. A liquid fertiliser, chook manure or cow manure will certainly boost growth rates.

Pruning / Harvesting

You need to harvest kangkong before it flowers. Cut off the leaves with a pair of scissors. Leave about 10cm and it will regrow so you can harvest again. Kangkong is a gift that keeps on giving!

Growing in a pot

Growing in a pot, container or raised garden bed is a good idea. Indeed kangkong can become a pest or invasive species if in ends up in tropical and sub-tropical waterways. For this reason alone it is a good idea to grow it in a container that will not allow it to spread into any nearby waterways.

Watering

Kangkong prefers damp conditions. Consequently, it loves the banks of streams and wetlands. Indeed the green hollow stems will float on top of water or creep along damp ground.

Pests and Diseases

Kangkong is more pest resistant than most other leafy greens. Grasshoppers and caterpillars are pests that can become a problem in the dry season. However, healthy planting material and good growing conditions can reduce any impact from these pests.

Regular application of ‘white oil’ can help address some of these pests. White oil is an effective organic pesticide that you can make at home.

Eating Kangkong

kangkong stir fry
kangkong stir fry

You can eat kangkong raw or cooked. Like most greens, it’s high in iron, but it’s not the slightest bit bitter, so you can use it in anything from stirfries to salads.

It is very versatile and can be boiled, blanched, or steamed. Kang Kong has a wide variety uses. Indeed, it can be added into curry sauces, as a soup vegetable or added into a stir fry.

Health Benefits

Weight Loss

Eating kangkong can help you lose weight. It is very low in calories and also increase you feelings of being full.

Fibre

This is a vegetable high in dietary fibres and is known to help prevent constipation.

Immune System

Kangkong is rich in Vitamin A which is known to boost the immune system.

Antioxidants

This vegetable is high in antioxidants, which fight free radicals in the body. Consequently, they help the body to combat heart disease, cancer and other diseases.

Prebiotics

Kangkong contains pre-biotic fibre. This is a type of fibre that must go though you undigested. Further, this is know to improve your gut health and promote ‘good’ bacteria. Consequently, it can also help people who suffer from constipation.

Other Tropical Vegetables

Relevant Content

Tropical Gardening

By Rob Pyne

Quadriplegic, Former MP, Councillor & Political Campaigner: Rob is an Eco Socialist who shares ways to survive & fight capitalism. #socialism #championoftheunderdog Occupation: Online Editor Employer: Champion of the Underdog! Book: Struggle and Resistance in the Far North

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