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Amaranth

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Amaranth

Post  Megan on Fri 4 Jun 2010 - 17:13

As far as I know, no one has tried to grow Amaranth in a SFG before, so I thought I would post here every once in a while to describe my experience with it.

I've never grown it, but when I saw it in the Baker Seeds catalog while dreaming of my SFG for this year, I wanted to try it. Mainly for fun, but also because I was curious to see if I could get a useful amount of grain in a small space. (And I didn't plant any spinach this year, so I wanted to see how closely the young leaves taste like it, which it's supposed to.)

I picked this variety: Orange Giant Amaranth. It is supposed to get quite tall, and I wondered if I could use it as a support for peas and cukes. I didn't find any data on how strong it is, so I decided to plant them next to each other and if I needed to cage the cukes after all, I would.

I direct seeded three squares of Amaranth on May 8. I guessed a minimum of one square per plant.

Here it is on May 12:


That square seemed to grow the best, why I don't know. (It could even be that I accidentally ripped up a few, though I hope not.) I eventually transplanted two of these three plants to another square.

May 24:


May 31:
In this photo, the Amaranth is in the upper three squares of the middle column.


Today (June 3), just under a month old:

The Amaranth is taller than anything in my SFG except for the potatoes and the climbing pole beans. The main stalks are very thick for their height and when I press them between my fingers, they are really tough/resilient, like you would expect of a fairly mature corn stalk. I'm starting to believe they could carry cucumber vines easily, but we will see. The biggest Amaranth, in the middle there, is 17" tall at the highest point. I staked that one for a week or two when it seemed to be leaning, but it has straightened out again.







Some of the leaves have been showing some odd curling / puckering, and I was worried about that at first. Everything else around it is healthy, though, so unless Amaranth has really odd nutritional needs, I think it is okay. I also found some plants in a local nursery that were *completely* crinkled up leaves, so I think it might just be a trait of this plant. If anyone can tell me more about that, I would appreciate it!

Happy gardening (and experimenting!) Very Happy

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Re: Amaranth

Post  1chichi on Sat 5 Jun 2010 - 4:06

I am excited to see you are growing amaranth . That golden one is going to be a knock out. I am anxious to know if they can tolerate a vining plant.

I am growing Callaloo Amaranth in my sfg. I started them from seed in my greenhouse.
They were very tiny seeds, and the seedlings were very thin. I transferred them to the garden when they about were about 2" tall.
For about a week, I kept a wooden crate over them to protect against the wind and rain.
It took the several weeks for them to get going, but now they having taken off, and are rising above the tomatoes. I only have 2 squares of them , they are now about 3' high.

I really wanted a whole patch of plants, but when I directly sowed them in another part of the yard, they washed away in the rain. I only coverd them w/ hardware cloth. I should have covered them with a large tote.

Now, I have to research when/how to harvest them. As I am ready to taste a little callaloo today!

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Re: Amaranth

Post  Megan on Sat 5 Jun 2010 - 4:25

Hurray, we've got another amaranth SFG'er! happy hi Sounds like yours are doing even better than mine are, too... that is fantastic! How many plants to a square are you doing?

My seeds were tiny, too. I direct-seeded just about everything in my garden, and that is probably why one of my squares didn't sprout and had to be transplanted. I think the seed itself germinates very readily. The seedlings were fairly sturdy, though. (That is one thing I've noticed this year.... with one exception, everything I direct-seeded did better/was stronger than the "backups" I started indoors.)

I've read a little about harvesting. The leaves should be cut when they are small, but you can harvest them all season. The seed heads... One thought is that to get the biggest yield you should cut them several times during the season. The other is to just let it go until you are ready to do one big harvest. Using it as a trellis might put some limitations on that?

I need to figure out how to process the amaranth grain. I am guessing you can use it whole or ground, but what do you grind it with?

Does callaloo really taste like spinach?

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Re: Amaranth

Post  1chichi on Sun 6 Jun 2010 - 6:36

Thisis my callaloo. Notice the DAMSEL FLY on top of the green stake on left side of photo. It is following me around the garden , yesterday and today!



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Re: Amaranth

Post  Megan on Sun 6 Jun 2010 - 6:58

Love it!!

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Callaloo?

Post  Wyldflower on Sun 6 Jun 2010 - 7:07

I'm not familiar with callaloo. Could someone let us know more about it?

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What do I do now?

Post  SabraJoy on Wed 23 Jun 2010 - 8:05

I purchased a Jamaican Callaloo plant at my farmer's market and don't know how to space it in my sfg. Help, please?

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Re: Amaranth

Post  Megan on Wed 23 Jun 2010 - 8:53

@SabraJoy wrote:I purchased a Jamaican Callaloo plant at my farmer's market and don't know how to space it in my sfg. Help, please?

One per square seems to be working for me. Mine is a grain amaranth and is not branching so far. (That may change when I nip some leaves off to eat. Will be interested to find out.). I do have 2 plants in one square but they are smaller than the others. May have to pull one.

I am typing from my phone, don't think I can link in a picture but I will tonight. They are big plants.

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Re: Amaranth

Post  kimbertangleknot on Wed 23 Jun 2010 - 8:57

What exactly is it, and what's it suppose to taste like? I can't say that I'm familiar with it at all, and I'm too lazy to search right now (still drinking my cup of coffee). Looks almost like basil to me.

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Re: Amaranth

Post  Megan on Wed 23 Jun 2010 - 14:53

@kimbertangleknot wrote:What exactly is it, and what's it suppose to taste like? I can't say that I'm familiar with it at all, and I'm too lazy to search right now (still drinking my cup of coffee). Looks almost like basil to me.

Here is the Wikipedia link. It is interesting to note that the leaves are high in vitamins and minerals, while the grain is high in protein, fiber and minerals, and the protein is near complete.

I've read / been told that the leaves can be used a lot like spinach, and that article has some other ideas too. I have a neighbor who is familiar with callaloo and she tells me it is not exactly like spinach; apparently the leaves do not wilt down as much and she said she finely slices the stems. I think I am going to give her the first mess of leaves and beg her to cook some for me so I can try it done right! Very Happy

Here are some pictures of my Orange Amaranth, which is a grain type. (Callaloo is a vegetable type.) According to the packet, it's supposed to grow 6-8 feet high. It is about halfway there.

In this first one, there is a big plant just to the right of the cuke cage, and there are two smaller plants in the square to the right of the big plant. (There is another big plant just out of view to the left.) It is important to note that these plants were all started from seed in the same square at the same time. I transplanted two of them to the right when that square failed completely (I think a cat was digging in there or something). So, those three plants were originally all the same size. From this, I take it that Amaranth does not like to be transplanted...that, or I did a poor job of it.





Big leaves.

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Re: Amaranth

Post  1chichi on Wed 23 Jun 2010 - 18:58

@SabraJoy wrote:I purchased a Jamaican Callaloo plant at my farmer's market and don't know how to space it in my sfg. Help, please?

They get pretty big. One per square. I wouldn't even put them in adjoining squares. Maybe put something smaller next to them. I harvested 2 plants about 4' high, and that made plenty of callaloo.
I was dissappointed in the flavor, it was a bit grassy. It wasn't as good as what I had in Jamaica (which was incredible). Maybe I should have harvested it before the seed heads started growing. It could be that altered the flavor.

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Re: Amaranth

Post  Megan on Wed 23 Jun 2010 - 19:03

How do you cook them?

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Re: Amaranth

Post  1chichi on Thu 24 Jun 2010 - 5:58

@Megan wrote:How do you cook them?

prepare
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UsY3ejEG_aQ



cook

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=X_uVs2iI51s&feature=channel

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Agh... wind!

Post  Megan on Fri 25 Jun 2010 - 19:26

Sigh.

I came home tonight from work to discover that my second-biggest amaranth was snapped off about 18-24" above the ground. It broke almost clean through but as it fell it ripped some outer skin off and downwards. I am thinking the wind did it, and immediately staked my other big plant (the one in the pictures I've previously posted.)

It looks like it had only recently snapped, as various wasps were hovering around... I can't tell if it was the moisture they wanted, or sugar. I tasted the exposed sap and it didn't taste sweet to me, but, who knows.

I trimmed off the main stem where it had broken, then tried to fold the peeled back portions of sheathing back against the stem and tie it there. There are a few leaves below the break point, but I have no idea whether it will live.

I did learn that the central stem is juicy... it is not fibrous and sort of hollow the way a mature corn stalk is. (From my reading the mature leaves, and presumably the stalk? are very heavy in oxalic acid so I am not going to try to eat that stem.)

I took a few pictures but I'm just tired now.... will post them tomorrow if anyone is interested.

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Re: Amaranth

Post  1chichi on Sat 26 Jun 2010 - 16:42

So sorry about your amaranth. It may come back, they seem to be hardy plants.
Did you cook it?

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Re: Amaranth

Post  Megan on Fri 9 Jul 2010 - 17:05

I didn't... in fact I have yet to eat some, long story. But it is doing great!

The broken amaranth is sprouting lots of new leaves and doing fine.

The biggest one is now taller than I am. The cucumbers are climbing it very happily, though the vine is stretched fairly taut, apparently the amaranth grew a bit fast for it. The watermelon made a grab at it, too, but I retrained it back to the trellis just in case. I have staked it against the wind, but it is bearing the weight just fine so far.

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Re: Amaranth

Post  martha on Fri 9 Jul 2010 - 19:31

1chichi, I want to know how you know if it is a dragon or damsel fly!

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Re: Amaranth

Post  camprn on Fri 9 Jul 2010 - 19:48

@martha wrote:1chichi, I want to know how you know if it is a dragon or damsel fly!
Dragon or Damsel?
both very cool critters! I welcome them to my yard as they are voracious hunters of pests.

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Re: Amaranth

Post  boffer on Fri 9 Jul 2010 - 19:54

Thanks, Camp, I thought the dragon/damsel question was a he/she question! idk

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Re: Amaranth

Post  1chichi on Sat 10 Jul 2010 - 12:12

@martha wrote:1chichi, I want to know how you know if it is a dragon or damsel fly!

Damselflies are more delicate in appearance, and usually they keep their wings closer to the body. Their eyes don't touch, so when they watch you both eyes are kinda moving independently.

Dragonflies usually have wings opened when they are still. Their eyes touch.
They are both a joy to watch in the garden.

http://www.odonatacentral.org/index.php/GalleryAction.browse

http://www.lrdg.org.uk/articles/intro.php

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Re: Amaranth

Post  Megan on Sun 11 Jul 2010 - 8:43

We had a lot of rain yesterday, and now one of the main stems looks like it blew a gasket. I don't know if it is an issue of insect damage or turgor pressure gone awry.... also, the second tallest one flopped over, too... I have tied it loosely to the big plant to keep it upright.

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Re: Amaranth

Post  WardinWake on Sun 11 Jul 2010 - 17:26

@Megan wrote:We had a lot of rain yesterday, and now one of the main stems looks like it blew a gasket. I don't know if it is an issue of insect damage or turgor pressure gone awry.... also, the second tallest one flopped over, too... I have tied it loosely to the big plant to keep it upright.

OK, OK, I had to find out. Wikipedia says...

Turgor Pressure or turgidity is the main pressure of
the cell contents against the cell
wall in plant cells and bacteria cells, determined by the
water content of the vacuole, resulting from osmotic pressure, i.e. the hydrostatic pressure
produced by a solution in a space divided by a semipermeable membrane due to a
differential in the concentration of solute.
Turgor Pressure is a force exerted outward on a plant cell wall by
the water contained in the cell vacuole.
In terms of plant water potential, turgor pressure is usually expressed as
the pressure component (Ψp).
This force gives the plant rigidity, and keeps it erect.

Wilting

Plants that lose turgidity (lose water from their cells) undergo plasmolysis.
When this happens, cells are no longer rigid and the plant loses
structure, giving the "wilty" appearance. Wilting might not always be
caused by a lack of water, but might be an expression of plants under
salt (salinity) stress or can by caused by ethylene (a plant hormone).
"Plants wilt, not only when they lose water through evaporation, but
also when they are surrounded by an aqueous solution of common salt,
potassium chloride, magnesium chloride, sugar or other substance, if the
solution is of higher osmotic pressure, whereas they do not wilt if the osmotic
pressure is lower."[1

God Bless, Ward and Mary.


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Re: Amaranth

Post  Megan on Sun 11 Jul 2010 - 17:29

Gold star for Ward! Very Happy cheers (Sorry... large vocabulary... )

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Re: Amaranth

Post  WardinWake on Sun 11 Jul 2010 - 18:55

@Megan wrote:Gold star for Ward! Very Happy cheers (Sorry... large vocabulary... )


I still can't believe that I copied and pasted that one! To quote one in-famous philosopher, "I'm so confused".

God Bless, Ward and Mary.

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Re: Amaranth

Post  Megan on Thu 15 Jul 2010 - 16:03

Okay, here we are... it is starting to form a seed head! The biggest plant is about 8 feet tall, but even the shorter ones are showing signs of forming heads. The one that broke is doing fine; it has sent up side shoots from locations I would call a sucker on a tomato plant, just below the break. (Sorry, I am not good at describing these things! Embarassed )












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