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  • #16
    DeanRIowa, how did your Amaranth do? Did they produce enough to save seeds or grain?


    • #17
      My Amaranth (Elephant Head and Copper Head) did great in my 2008 season. I had plenty of grain and did try the leaves in salads.

      I have to admit, they are beautiful plants and produce very well, but I did not utilize them (seeds or leaves) as much as I could have. I guess my life is/was just too busy.

      I choose not to plant them again this season, but that does not mean I did not have Amaranth for my 2009 season. I did not understand that they self sow very well. I did not realize here in the corn belt they are considered an obnoxious weed (PigWeed), they came up everywhere in my garden and I figure I will have them for the near future like it or not.



      • #18
        You can pop it like popcorn, also add to soups (will thicken soups a bit too.). There was a grain salad my sister's friend would make. I know she boiled several whole grains until tender then turned it into a cold salad with assortment of veggies and a vinagrette. She had cut grape tomatoes, scallions and red onions, asparagus and some cheese in tiny cubes. It was a chewy kinda texture to the grains, but really good. There was quinoa and wheatberries in the grain mix.


        • #19
          If it's any consolation, Amaranth contains complete proteins. Excellent protein source. While not drought-resistant, the New World Amaranths at least have the ability to revive significantly after collapsing in a dry spell. They're not one of those rare miracle plants like Sporobolus stapfianus (African Inselberg Grass), that can revive and turn green again if totally dried out crispy, but they can do it better than most crops can.

          They are also among the extremely few dicotyledonous plants that know how to do C4 metabolism--as many warm-growing grasses do. That's why Amaranth, and Corn, grow so astonishingly fast in warm weather. Amaranth is weedy even in my decidedly non-tropical climate. It grows so fast once it gets warm.

          One big problem is harvesting Amaranth. The seed heads shatter easily. Traditionally, like Quinoa, it was harvested by (gentle!) hand.

          Another problem is figuring out what to do with a grain that cooks up GOOEY. Dreyadin, I've tried it in soup. If I don't put in too much, my family will eat it.

          It probably works best in small amounts mixed with other things. I've had it in cookies and whole in mixed-grain bread.

          The Aztec way of preparing it wouldn't be acceptable to most people. That's how it got banned by the Spaniards.


          • #20
            Thank you DeanRIowa for responding so quickly! And thank you to everyone else for your additions! I was curious about Amaranth because, from what I have read, it has been mainly grown as an ornamental by North American settlers but it can be eaten ... all varieties? I thought it was called Pigweed but I wasn't for sure. I am, currently, very interested in eating/growing/identifying "weeds" that are both edible and invasive/noxious. Along side the curiosity of growing Amaranth (we live in the same climate/zone) I am also interested in Quinoa. I read, somewhere, that there were trials done in Minnesota and North American Alpine regions and Quinoa did not fair well?

            I like pretty but practical and I rent, meaning I have a much smaller garden area ( I think ) than most of you and I can not grow grain. These were two, probably the only two, alternatives?


            • #21
              I think Pigweed is an Amaranth, yes. It's probably not the kind you want, though. There are basically 2 kinds of Amaranth among any of several species: generally the Old World species are used mostly as a leafy vegetable, and those of the New World as grains. BUT both kinds are capable of, even if not ideal for, either use.

              Grain Amaranths from the New World often have attractively colored flowerheads. Those are what you are probably thinking of. Go to the Thompson and Morgan website, and look up "Amaranthus paniculatus". It's in the annual flower section, NOT the vegetable section, but you can eat the seeds, yes. Several of the types bred as ornamentals are convenient heights, 4 feet or less. Some of their agricultural counterparts are too tall for me.

              Some of the leaf amaranths are also quite ornamental, with colored leaves. The one variously known as "Joseph's coat" or "Summer Poinsettia", of which you can eat tender young leaves, or for that matter, the small leafy Amaranths grown as a substitute for spinach in Asia (where it is too hot for real spinach) have a maroon blotch on their leaves.

              Quinoa does surprisingly well in several climates despite being essentially a tropical alpine. It does great here in the Pacific Northwest. Probably severe heat, and maybe muggy heat, are hard on it. Also, it has a long growing season, BUT it actually varies quite a bit; some varieties are short and go to seed quickly.

              Have you ever eaten both of them? I would guess Quinoa is easier for most people to accept as far as grains go (Amaranth leaf is fairly acceptable to most people; better than spinach); cook it in some broth with a bit of cumin seed, and it makes a fairly acceptable "pilaf". It cooks faster than rice, and is significantly more nutritious. But if you grow your own, you have to wash out the saponins or you will have a soapy mess.

              Quinoa has colored seed heads, but it is not particularly ornamental. In fact, being a member of the Goosefoot family it looks rather like some common weeds--be careful you don't weed it out! It looks a lot like its weedy relations, just taller.


              • #22
                I've grown Quintonil, an amaranth which we first obtained in Tlatlauquitepec, Puebla ( 1 1/2 miles high altitude/cold rain forest climate) in 1990. We've carried it with us and successfully grown it in OH, NJ, OK and the Mexican state of Hidalgo (1 mile high altitude, desert). We have never eaten the seeds, as it is laborious to harvest. But we love the greens in spring.



                • #23
                  Growing amaranths is a passion of mine. I've grown many large amaranths in search of the biggest amaranths in the world. Different amaranths will cross with each other, but the crosses are generally sterile or produce few seeds.

                  I've been trying to create new hybrids to create the largest amaranths. I've grown two very large hybrids using Amaranthus australis (giant amaranth). Giant amaranths are probably the largest amaranth in the world. In 2007, I had a giant amaranth at 23 feet 2 inches in New Jersey that was listed in the 2009 Guinness Book of World Records. It was beat by a friend in New York that had one at 27 feet 10 inches. Our plants were actually the same plant. This year I had one to 24 feet 4 inches, still short of the new record, but beating my personal best. Direct sown in my garden, the best I've been able to get with A. australis is 21 feet tall. A. australis is also capable of producing stalks that are 6 feet in circumference. Some people I sent seeds to in Sweden had a 25 feet 9 inch plant this year. There are probably other really tall ones out there, but those are the ones that I know about.

                  I've been growing crosses of Amaranthus australis with a very similar amaranth named Amaranthus cannabinus, a.k.a tidalmarsh amaranth. Both the giant amaranth and the tidalmarsh amaranth are very similar in appearance, with tidalmarsh amaranths being less stout. They are also both dieocious. I created extremely fertile crosses between these two amaranths with hybrids that generally resemble giant amaranths, but generally intermediate in stalk size, leaf size, seed size, etc. These plants also self-sow in my garden, which I do not see from pure Amaranthus australis. The tallest pure tidalmarsh amaranth I've ever grown was about 18 feet tall and 16 feet wide.
                  Hybrids are generally 20-21 feet tall, but unlike the Amaranthus australis, the hybrid plants grow much faster, but they also go to seed much faster. Generally Amaranthus australis and Amaranthus cannabinus at my house do not cross because they have different flowering times. I've forced flowering, by starting the A. cannabinus plants late in pots and set them out with the giant amaranths when they flower.
                  I do have a few, what I believe to be, tidalmarsh amaranth that may have crossed with some of my red Amaranthus cruentus. These plants are entirely sterile and generally do not do well. I've seen about three of these plants self-sow in the garden.

                  I have also obtained crossed between Amaranthus australis and Amaranthus hybridus. I have a specific Amaranthus hybridus from Zambia that has the exact same flowering period as the Amaranthus australis. I've only see the cross with A. hybridus as the mother. This particular A. hybridus generally grows about 13-14 feet. Very late flowering, and difficult to produce seed in New Jersey. My tallest A. hybridus was this year at 19 feet 2 inches. The hybrid between A. hybridus and A. australis produces plants generally around 18-19 feet tall. However, this year I produced two plants at 22 feet tall. This hybrid is always totally sterile. Plants generally look like giant amaranths, but the flowers are red. Stems are slightly hollow or almost solid, making them much heavier than pure A. australis stalks.

                  I have some videos of some of these amaranth:

                  Here is a link of my friend's 6 feet circumference stalk on a giant amaranth

                  Giant amaranths and tropical corn along the back of my house in 2009

                  One of my twin daughters standing under a giant amaranth in my backyard.

                  22 feet tall Amaranthus hybridus X Amaranthus australis at my garden plot at my job in Princeton, New Jersey

                  Trying to lift this Amaranthus australis up, I ended up snapping off over a foot from the top (thus no flower head on top), but this was 24 feet 4 inches at full height.

                  19 feet 2 inch tall Amaranthus hybridus

                  Patch of Amaranthus cannabinus X Amaranthus australis. Tallest plants are around 21 feet. If you look closely, you can see a 10 ft. ladder in the right of the amaranth patch.

                  Pic of me on my ladder looking up at a really tall Amaranthus australis
                  Attached Files


                  • #24
                    Very interesting thread indeed. It gives me ideas.


                    • #25
                      Good lord, is that corn growing with it?


                      • #26
                        Originally posted by darwinslair View Post
                        Good lord, is that corn growing with it?
                        Yes, what you saw were various races of tropical corn. Best one this year was from Mexico and was 25 feet 9 inches.

                        I also grow sunflowers too


                        • #27
                          I've been considering amaranth myself. I stopped by whole foods and bought some to try out on my family. The grains are cream in color and the size of turnip seed. Do ya'll think they were correctly labeled? I thought they would be the size of pepper corns.
                          Also, do they require full sun, or would partial shade do?


                          • #28
                            Grain amaranth (blond seeds) will cross with two common pig weeds. Quinoa will cross with Lamb's Quarter, another Chenopodium.

                            If you want grains and greens grow two species. Most greens varieties are A. tricolor and they don't cross with the grain varieties. They also don't cross with pig weeds.

                            Amaranth and Quinoa are both super foods but I have chosen to grow Amaranth as Quinoa is a bit more demanding in NW Arkansas. Quinoa is a cool season crop, Amaranth is a hot season crop. It goes from freezing to hot pretty quick around here.

                            Amaranth is an outbreeding crop and Susan Ashworth in Seed to Seed recommends planting 5 plants inside a tomato cage to maintain genetic diversity when growing for seed.

                            When harvesting amaranth seeds for food the ancient technique still works: gently bend the seed head over a large bowl and shake. Blow on it gently to remove the chaff.

                            The easiest way to prepare amaranth grain is as a porridge. Boil the seed in 3X the amount of water for 30 minutes. Think: Cream of Wheat.

                            My favorite grain amaranth is Golden Giant from Baker Creek, beautiful and grows carefree on poor soil.


                            • #29
                              Originally posted by SSE Ian View Post
                              If anyone reading knows of amaranth species that cross with other species, please post!
                              There's some speculation that all amaranths are actually the same species. However, the various species (or perhaps subtypes) don't breed well together - when they do cross, the offspring grow poorly.

                              It's considered safest to only grow one type - and to eliminate wild, weedy amaranths from the same field.