Friday, April 1, 2016

A is for Amaranth

Let's start off the A to Z Challenge with a plant that does triple duty in the garden!
Amaranth is a beautiful colored plant that adds great drama to your garden, the young leaves are easily harvested for greens and the seeds can be used as grain. We're planting some this year and I hope you'll give it a try too!

Lots of varieties to pick from with lots of brilliant shades of colors, Burgundy, Green and Orange. The seeds are best for a direct sow method just after the last frost of the season. Most varieties grow quickly, can be very tall, some reaching 6 foot and give a good harvest of grains.

There are many types of plants that fall into this category so if you are growing for the grain make sure that you aren't getting an ornamental variety. We chose two kinds Red Calaloo for the greens and Juana's Orange Amaranth for the grain. Check back later in the summer and I'm hoping to have some impressive pictures of my own.

Orange Amaranth from Baker Seed Company
Juana's Orange Amaranth

As I was researching Amaranth, I was surprised to find out this is considered a weed in many parts of the world and it is closely related to what we call "pigweed" here in the southern US, not something you want in your garden. We are trying to learn more about foraging for "good weeds" and other natural products in our area, so while these might not be native we are glad to be able to share some of that information with you.

Harvesting the seeds is said to be easy, once the plant matures, they are cut and hung to dry, which once dry the seeds will fall onto mats or tarps. The seeds can be eaten raw or cooked and have high values of Magnesium and Iron. The leaves are high in Vitamin A and C as well as calcium.

Thanks for stopping by, I'll see you in the garden! Check back tomorrow for something a little more common and I'll have a great recipe for you, Brussel Sprouts.