By in Gardening

Amaranth is Amazing

Did you know that there are about 600,000 seeds in a pound of Amaranth? I got that tidbit from a blogger who calls himself Thoreau. He talks about Amaranth as a grain and features beautiful photos of the lovely but invasive seedpods of this edible plant is this essay called Survival Gardening: Growing Grain Amaranth:

Thoreau's Grain

I grow mine hydroponically. This helps contain what otherwise might escape to become a weed, while allowing me to have a fast growing, edible, and attractive houseplant that seeds itself. There are many varieties of amaranth and some are tastier than others. My favorite is available in seed online at EvergreenSeeds as item number 41501. Of course it is heritage seed so I can let a few of the plants bolt early and collect viable seeds to restart. A faster way of reproducing the plants, however, is by cloning, that is putting leaf cuttings in water to root and make new plants. I plan to write more articles here explaining in detail different easy ways to propagate plants such as these from seed and from cuttings.

I took these photos with my Canon Powershot.

My second photo shows details of different parts of the amazing amaranth plant. The white arrow top left points to the pockets that form when the plant starts to bolt, that is to stop making leaves and start making seeds. Bottom left you see how tiny these seeds are. When the seeds are first starting to form, the pods are still green, but very soon shiny black seeds will start to pop out into the air, where they can travel quite far in search of a place to take root. After while the seed pods turn orange and then red.

All parts of the amaranth plant are edible, except by those people who are chronically dehydraded and/or have been told by a physician to avoid foods such as kale, spinach or almonds, which also contain oxalic acid.

Image Credit » I took this photo of a very healthy young amaranth plant growing indoors in an Aerogarden planter.

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MegL wrote on August 2, 2014, 6:40 PM

What sort of food due you use Amaranth in

Fractal wrote on August 2, 2014, 7:31 PM

High in protein, a good supplement to ..well, just about anyone. Just as you mention. Oddly it is not easily available here in UK, It can be sought out but it requires dilligent searching. It is probably best known as an annual plant called 'Love Lies Bleeding'. Or at least one variety is called thus.
In ancient times the Aztecs loved it.

Scorpie wrote on August 2, 2014, 8:26 PM

Do you use it like lettuce?

JanetJenson wrote on August 2, 2014, 8:58 PM

I mostly use the youngest leaves fresh in salad megl along with other salad greens, and when they are a bit bigger, but still tender, I like them sliced in broth-based soups, sauteed with eggs or potatoes, and usually I put a handful in with chili beans.

JanetJenson wrote on August 2, 2014, 8:59 PM

Yes fractal it is the sam as Love Lies Bleeding but I do not know the story behind that. Do you? I will probably look it up online before the night is over.

JanetJenson wrote on August 2, 2014, 9:31 PM

Yes, scorpie like lettuce mixed in with other greens, but even more like spinach which can be eaten raw or cooked. The leaves are only good when they are young as they toughen up as they mature. So growing them indoors in water, I just keep cutting off and using the fresh new stems and re-rooting them in a new glass or jar. Free food forever.

BarbRad wrote on August 3, 2014, 1:03 AM

I may have to try this sometime, but outside. For all I know It might be growing wild on my Templeton property now. What other names does it go under?

JanetJenson wrote on August 3, 2014, 1:35 AM

If it is growing wild it could take over, as it can become invasive very fast BarbRad . There are many varieties and the ones growing wild may not be the tastiest. Common names can be confusing because there are often several very different plants called by the same name. Pigweed, for example, could be this or something else, depending on who is saying it. It is sometimes known as cock's comb, but that is different from the ornamental cock's comb we see in flower gardens. I have heard it called lamb's quarters, too, but I bellieve that to be inaccurate, as the latter is the same as goosefoot and quite different from amaranth.

BarbRad wrote on August 3, 2014, 3:36 AM

If I grow it, I'll get some seeds so I'll know for sure what it is. What would be the right season for outdoor planting? I don't care if it's invasive - especially if it invades the grasses.

MegL wrote on August 3, 2014, 3:49 AM

Thanks. I must look out for that. I love salad.

Ruby3881 wrote on August 3, 2014, 11:23 AM

I read quite a bit about growing amaranth a couple of years ago, and had wanted to get some to grow before we moved. I had never thought of growing it indoors. Doesn't it get quite large? I'm looking forward to more info on this :)

JanetJenson wrote on August 3, 2014, 9:31 PM

Ruby3881 the one I am showing you here from EvergreenSeeds is a dwarf variety. In my kitchen I kept it pinched back to less than a foot, and when I put it out to bolt it was about 2 feet high including the seed pods and probably would have been taller had I fed it more. Other varieties can grow from four to eight feet high. In addition to keeping it shorter, pinching back makes the plant look nice and produce more leaves, plus it is faster and easier to root the stems for new plants than it is to seed again.

JanetJenson wrote on August 3, 2014, 9:46 PM

I have never grown amaranth in dirt BarbRad because, for one thing, I never wanted to take a chance on it taking over the neighbor's landscaping, and because I think that for most dirt gardening people it is a baby greens crop and they just harvest the whole plant after about 30 days or if they are going for the grain it would be a summer annual.

JanetJenson wrote on August 3, 2014, 9:50 PM

Oh, I did read one article that said in Southern California one would plant the seeds in late May or early June.

BarbRad wrote on August 4, 2014, 12:14 AM

Thanks for the information.

Ruby3881 wrote on August 7, 2014, 11:38 PM

It looks so lush! I'll have to look into the dwarf variety, if I decide to try my hand at growing some.